Cathy Cummins lives a full life despite ALS diagnosis

Cathy Cummins, DC was diagnosed with PLS in 2005 and ALS in 2008

She was a busy chiropractor, helping students and patients while pursuing her dreams. Like many people with active professional and personal lives, she often overworked her body.

Before her diagnosis, Cathy competed as a hopeful for the 1992 U.S. Judo team for the Barcelona Olympics until she broke her arm. She became a competition body builder.

She continued her post-doctoral education to become the best she could be in her profession while continuing to work.

When Cathy was diagnosed she knew, as a holistic healer, that one could accept the diagnosis without accepting the prognosis. She enlisted the help of her partner, also a chiropractor, and other health professionals, including a highly skilled naturopath to help her plan and adjust her program.

As a medical professional, Cathy knew the importance of nutrition, supplements and detoxification. She also knew that rest, stress reduction, staying positive and keeping mentally and emotionally healthy were an essential part of healing.

Cathy used all the tools at her disposal, including traditional medicine. She took a prescription muscle relaxant and had a medication pump
implanted into her spine to help her with her cramping. With her own research and the help of other professionals she experimented with supplements and protocols she knew were low risk that might possibly help her symptoms.

Despite all of her best efforts, Cathy’s physical condition continued to worsen. However, she knew she was on the right track and she knew that holistic protocols take time to be effective, so she persevered and made the best of whatever state her body was in.

During this time, Cathy remained in her job as an assistant professor teaching chiropractic on a part-time basis. She thoroughly enjoyed her work and it took her mind off of her diagnosis. She used a van with a lift and an electric wheelchair to get to, from and around campus.

Cathy’s diaphragm and voice were very weak, working at 50-60% of normal, so she used a ChatterVox and micrphone at work so that she could be heard while teaching.

While experimenting with various treatments and working part-time, Cathy knew her emotional well-being was just as essential to healing, so she made sure to include fun in her life. She kept up her annual trips to Mexico with her family, even though it meant sometimes being carried by friends when things were not wheelchair accessible, even once using a luggage rack for transport.

Cathy joined a competition-level singing group, despite only being able to stand for short periods, needing a machine to amplify her voice, and sometimes needing assistance breathing. Cathy was very excited to be able to sing the National Anthem at a ball game with one of her quartets. She also took up wheelchair curling for recreation.

With all this, at times Cathy’s symptoms were scary. At her worst, she needed a respirator at night and her partner wondered if she would even make it until morning. She had an Ambu Bag with her at all times on her wheelchair since she had passed out a few times from a lack of oxygen and over exertion. Cathy needed help cutting up her food and needed her wheelchair both in and out of the house. Friends and family prepared for the worst, while hoping for the best and never giving up.

Finally, after years of experimenting with various protocols, mostly holistic, Cathy’s symptoms turned around. She got so good at wheelchair curling she made the 2014 Sochi Paralympic team as a the women’s alternate. Unfortunately—or fortunately—shortly after the Olympic trials she was disqualified from the paralympic team because her symptoms improved so much she no longer qualified. She was no longer “disabled enough”. Fortunately a rule change allowed her to stay on the team.

Today, Cathy is slowly giving away the equipment she has accumulated over the years such as canes, walkers and wheelchairs. If she overworks or overstresses, her ALS symptoms worsen. To maintain her health, she needs to rest, exercise, watch what she eats and take supplements. She continues to tweak her protocol.

Cathy is a poster person for ALS reversal. Her courage, determination and perseverance have paid off. She was not afraid to enlist help from her partner, family, friends and colleagues, all of whom helped her heal. She sought professional help from a naturopath
and other experts, even though she was a professional herself. She took the time and effort to maintain her emotional and mental health throughout the process. She made sure she had fun and came up with fulfilling things to do to enrich her life, at every stage of her disease, no matter what the level of her disability.

Today Cathy celebrates her improvement. Thank you Cathy, for showing others what is possible.