ACTON – Together at their dining room table, Belinda Paul sees her team. There’s so much love in this Acton home, and laughter; A family to quite literally, lean on.
“Last Tuesday, that’s when they said it’s ALS,” Belinda said.
The progressive neurodegenerative disease steals the ability to move, and breathe, and speak. It’s that gift of speech that Belinda has given to so many. She’s been a speech and language pathologist for 20 years, now working with special needs students at the Daley Middle School in Lowell.
“When I got out of my car that next morning, a coworker came over, gave me a big hug. Said ‘I love you.’ From that moment it’s just been incredible. The team of people I work with. They’re just amazing,” she said.
Belinda’s colleagues have created an online fundraiser – hoping to raise thousands for future care and modifications to her home. She calls them amazing – but Belinda shows them the way, with her incredible courage.
“I know that it’s going to get a lot worse. Right now, I know these are really kind of the happy times. Every day I just have to be grateful that I can still walk, I can swallow, I can eat. I can breathe. I’m really trying to take this one day at a time,” she explained.
Belinda profoundly says the diagnosis gives her a better understanding of her students with disabilities. The ALS drugs make her tired, but they are medicine for her spirit.
“This is why I want to keep going,” Belinda said. “For them and the kids.”
As Belinda processes this devastating diagnosis with her husband and three teenage children, she is also seeking advocacy opportunities to increase awareness of the disease. The ‘Support for Belinda Paul’ fundraiser can be found online. You can also visit www.als.org to learn more about research, treatments, and the race to find a cure.