In memory of Mike Cimbura

someone we've lost to ALS


We all have to deal with death and disease, but it is how we deal with it that matters.

My name is Mike Cimbura. Not so long ago, I was a thriving business professional in the Denver community. I had lived a good life. House in the suburbs with a family, dog included. Had one kid going off to college on a merit scholarship, another heading into high school to play freshman football, my baby just going into seventh grade. I was having trouble with exercise-induced asthma. This had slowed my running and amateur cycling, but I was pushing fifty and the kids had more going on that used to be training time. It all made sense.

I am a father. I am a son. I am a husband. I am a brother. I am an athlete. I am a PALS which is a person with ALS. I can no longer move any part of my body, just my mouth, and eyes. I traded my speech for the ability to breathe when I got my trach. I have a beautiful family. My wife and three kids have taken great care of me. I have caretakers that manage my needs when my family is at work and school. My life is more limited than it was but my wife and kids keep me fighting and I won’t give up as long as they are willing to have me.

Caring for me is not easy. I am a big blob of dead weight. It takes at least two people to move me anywhere. I have a ceiling lift at home but that doesn’t help much when I leave my bedroom. I can do nothing for myself. Someone has to wipe my nose, dress me, scratch my itch, etc. It isn’t fun, but I am learning to deal with it. Talking is my biggest challenge. I can’t do it without a special computer which was recently upgraded by Team Gleason. Thank you Steve and team, you have made my life better.

I was officially diagnosed with ALS on January 22nd, 2015. It started with some weakness in my left hand that I noticed while trying to clip my fingernails. I hadn’t seen any symptoms before this. I went in to the doctor and was told that we should be able to figure it out with blood work. It came back fine. In fact, I was told I had the blood of someone in their early thirties. I was sent to a neurologist and he said that I was fine, but returned a few weeks later as I continued to lose function.  After another battery of tests, I was told “To start smelling the roses.” and was referred to another local neurologist who told me “I had ALS and would likely be dead in two years.”  While these other appointments were in the works I also opted to make an appointment with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester where they confirmed my ALS diagnosis.

I was in shock. I finally got to a point where I accepted my condition. Now what? Life goes on. I got used to my changing body as fast as I could. It has been a struggle. I am not gonna lie. I am most concerned about my family. It seems to be the hardest on them. They have done a lot to adjust. We live each day as it comes just like before, loving one another fiercely,  celebrating successes, calling one another out when we screw-up, and tackling the rest of the challenges life throws your way.

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