Recently, our ALS community mourned the loss of Persevering, a highly proactive three-star member who was known for his unfailing efforts to support fellow patients, record and share data, report website problems and recruit ALS clinical trial participants. Offline, he was also a tireless advocate for ALS awareness and research, attending conferences and lobbying on Capitol Hill. Persevering passed away on September 10, 2012, at the age of 42, and is deeply missed by both our members and our staff.
While we are unable to recognize every member who passes away on our blog, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight how our community responds to loss as well share what happens to a deceased patient’s profile data. When our community managers are notified of a member’s death – typically by a family member, caregiver or another member who was close to the person – they add the date of death to the member’s profile. This automatically updates their icon nugget with a black band to show that the member has passed away. (See image below.)
Also, our members often create a forum thread about the member, to which the tag “In Memory” is added by other members or the community manager so that it is searchable and “followable” using this tag. In these emotional threads, members acknowledge the deceased member’s contributions, reflect on the loss to the community and pay their respects. Essentially, it’s a place for remembering a friend, telling stories, supporting one another, sharing funny memories and sending condolences to the family.
Each month, our community managers update our “In Memoriam” thread in the PatientsLikeMe forum with a list of members who have passed away during the previous month, and they include links to each profile. That way, members who haven’t logged on for a while or may have missed the news of someone’s passing can stay up-to-date. Members can also choose to “follow” that thread if they wish to be notified whenever there is a new monthly update.
As for the profiles of members who have passed, they effectively create a legacy of data on our site, as their profile pages remain accessible to our members in perpetuity. As a result, present and future members may continue to access these profiles to compare and learn from similar experiences. Persevering’s detailed treatment, symptom and disease progression data, for example, will live on as a rich source of information and insight for other ALS patients. What was his experience in the Phase II Study of NP001? Read his comprehensive treatment history here. What side effect led him to stop taking Riluzole? Find out here.
So as you can see, Persevering is still helping others today, and we thank him for that. We also want to recognize his contributions to our recent publication about NP001. We have dedicated this new work to him as it was inspired by his keen desire as a “citizen scientist” to analyze and understand the impact of NP001 on his ALS progression.
As a result of these myriad achievements, Persevering will be posthumously awarded the Stephen Heywood Patients Today Award at the 8th Annual ALS Therapy Development Institute Leadership Summit on November 1st in Boston. Learn more about this beloved and influential ALS advocate by checking out the Facebook page created in his honor, entitled Persevering – You Are a Game Changer.