Welcome to my blog. I have had ALS for 10 years now.

Since I started this blog in June 2008 I've had amazing feedback. Family, friends, people from all over North America, Australia, Scotland, England, and places I can't recall, have commented, encouraged and corresponded. I had no idea when Cynthia taught me how to set this up, how much I would love posting and how many people would read it. I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who has helped propel this therapeutic exercise into a daily routine. All of you, both friends and visitors, are now part of my blog family. Welcome.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Proudfoot says good-bye

December 15 2010 Last updated at 07:03 PM ET

Tony Proudfoot, ALS-Stricken CFL Legend, Bids Farewell in Open Letter

Tony Proudfoot Editor's note: The Montreal Gazette has graciously allowed FanHouse to publish an excerpt of Tony Proudfoot's heartfelt farewell. The entirety of Proudfoot's final message can be read on the Montreal Gazette Web site. Donations can be made to "The Tony Proudfoot Fund" in conjunction with The ALS Society of Quebec.

The last time I wrote for The Gazette, in April 2010, I was anticipating that I might not make it to another Christmas. Here it is, early December, same year, and my circumstances are certainly clearer. As the Walrus says, "The time has come" literally and figuratively, and I would like to "talk of many things."

Why has ALS come into my life? What can I do with my body as it slowly deteriorates? When will my time actually be, given that ALS is a definitive death sentence? These are all thoughts that come to mind.

Who Is Tony Proudfoot?

Tony Proudfoot is a legend of the Canadian Football League and, specifically, the Montreal Alouettes. Over a 40-year professional relationship with the Alouettes, Proudfoot carved out a special place in the hearts of Montreal football fans, first as a player over nine of his 12 CFL seasons -- two of them as a CFL All-Star defensive back -- and later as a coach, game analyst, broadcaster and, in his own words, cheerleader.

In May 2007, at the age of 57, Proudfoot was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Characterized as bulbar onset ALS, this type of ALS first targets the motor neurons that control speech, swallowing and breathing.

Shortly after his diagnosis, Proudfoot penned a first-person story for the Montreal Gazette detailing the path ahead of him and his "bucket list," the goals he wanted to focus on in the 3-5 years doctors told him he had left to live. Those goals revolved around the love of his family, his relationships with the people around him, making a difference in the fight against ALS and perhaps most importantly, enjoying every day he had left.

Since then, Proudfoot has written periodic updates for the Gazette, often during the holiday season, updating fans and readers on his battle with ALS. On Wednesday, just over 3 1/2 years since his diagnosis, Proudfoot penned his final letter in the Gazette, saying goodbye and bidding farewell to his legions of fans, supporters and admirers.
Focusing on my next breath requires all of my energy. I am starved of air and oxygen and need to rely on a ventilator just to feel stable, just to live. I am now on my ventilator up to 22 hours per day, often going off one, to walk slowly to another room to attach myself to another.

At the beginning, without any answers and none forthcoming, I chose to take the high road and be as positive as I could possibly be and live the life I had left to the fullest. I also worked hard to raise awareness of ALS and support research into its cause and elimination. To date, more than half a million dollars has been raised for the ALS Tony Proudfoot Fund that may some day help the thousands of people in Canada who are dying. Unfortunately, there are no concrete results that can help me yet. Research efforts have moved forward significantly. I am very proud of that.

So, in the twilight of my life, I've been asked to reflect on my plight.

First, let me say how great the Alouettes were this year, Grey Cup champs once again and a huge part of my "up" days and enjoyment. They are a hard habit to kick, and my 40-year association with them in a variety of capacities, from player to coach, game analyst, broadcaster and now chief cheerleader (I wore my good luck Als tuque from the '74 Cup, during this year's game) has been a fantastic run.

I want to thank the Alouettes for everything they've done. You have no idea how much of a booster they have been to me. What can you say about people like Marc Trestman and Ben Cahoon, who came to visit me independently, just days after winning the Big One, to share their excitement and thoughts on the game and the whole experience? Ben even gave me his Grey Cup Champion hat! My broadcast partner Rick Moffat stopped by with a Grey Cup football, excellent!

They all knew I so wanted to be there with them, and to partake in their joy. Those who visited let me do it through osmosis. How about the support of special people like Anthony Calvillo and Davis Sanchez and literally dozens of others, way too numerous to name, but not to forget?

I know this will be my last December update. Right now, I'm hanging on for Christmas, and it's a tough slog and not a guarantee.

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