News & Stories

Living Well with PLS: Alice McGrew

I recently met Alice McGrew at her home in Vancouver, WA, along with her service dog Cindy Lou. From the table in her dining room, we enjoyed a serene view of a lush backward, even catching a chance hummingbird sighting. 

Alice noticed symptoms of primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) for at least ten years before her official diagnosis in the Fall of 2018. She first noticed weakness in her left side, which kept her from being able to put her hair in a ponytail. She noted that she had always been clumsy, and in many ways was already adjusting to life with PLS many years before her official diagnosis – for example, she avoided holding babies just in case she might trip. 

Growing up, Alice loved gardening – a practice she still enjoys today. Throughout high school and college, Alice was involved in music; first with the oboe, and later as a soprano in her college choir. She went on to maintain an extensive career in Child Protective Services, and by the time she was diagnosed with PLS, she had already retired.

(Image: flowers in Alice’s dining room)

Today, Alice excels at using adaptive strategies to fulfill current goals and interests while maximizing her energy. She still gardens with some modifications and hires additional help to fully maintain the yard. She’s also deeply creative and enjoys fashioning unique decor with beads, using Amazon’s next day delivery service for crafting supplies to avoid the hassle of personal transportation. Alice is also grateful for her community of support, including her neighbors, two surviving siblings, three children, and ALS Northwest Care Services Coordinator Susan Pennock.  

Alice is deeply appreciative of ALS Northwest, paying her gratitude forward with a donation to our annual ALS Gala. The Gala is one of several community-building fundraising events. She considers her Care Services Coordinator Susan “an angel” and notes that “ALS [Northwest] has been really helpful” throughout her disease progression. “ALS [Northwest] has been my anchor in the storm… they’ll listen, talk, and laugh with me… they’ve been a huge, huge support.” 

Learn More: 

Support Groups for people diagnosed with PLS 

Full suite of Care Services 

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