Dear Mr. Rodriquez,
I know that, at the moment, you're in a difficult spot with the media and that you've suffered numerous injuries throughout your baseball career. However, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge your recent comments about "fighting for your life." I would like you to understand what that profound, emotional claim truly means.
I have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the famous New York Yankee. I, like thousands of other people with ALS (pALS), am fighting for my life every single day. In fact, I have been fighting for more than eight years.
For background, ALS is a deadly disease with no known cause or cure. It is fatal and most people are given only 2-6 years to live after diagnosis. ALS systematically destroys motor neurons in the body, gradually robbing a person's ability to move, walk, talk and breathe. The cruel irony is, the brain is generally not affected, so pALS literally become "buried alive" in their own bodies. I have lost the ability to lift my arms or walk on my own. I use a pointer strapped to my head to communicate on my iPad. I am not complaining -- I am fighting.
With all due respect, I assume that you made your public statement under duress. That said, I need to set the record straight in terms of what "fighting for your life" really means. Whether it's cancer, heart disease or ALS, there are millions of people living in the world today who are truly fighting for their lives with every single breath they take. There are millions more who have lost this same fight.
As unfortunate as your circumstances appear to be right now, I hope in the future you choose your words more carefully. You can breathe without a respirator. You can eat without a food tube. You can walk and talk. You can cough without a machine to assist you. You can bathe yourself. You can get out of bed every morning and walk to the window and look at the sunrise. Most pALS can't do any of these things because they are actually fighting for their lives every single day.
My fight has yet to break me of my spirit or loyalty to fight -- and beat -- ALS. As part of my symbolic support for the fighting spirit of the great Lou Gehrig, I am wearing my Boston Red Sox cap and T-shirt. I encourage other pALS to share their fighting photos on the Facebook page of the ALS Therapy Alliance, as we are all brave spirits fighting together.
In closing, Mr. Rodriquez, I thank you for the opportunity to add truthfulness to your statement and to allow me to offer my real-life story and meaning to the words: "fighting for my life."
I truly hope you eventually find peace after you get through your current situation. Whatever happens, count your blessings and maybe try to learn more about fatal diseases like ALS. Many people within the pALS community would be thrilled to have your support in whatever way you can show it such as raising awareness and driving support to end ALS.
To everyone out there facing a horrible disease like ALS, remember to continue being brave and keep fighting for your life! #breathroughals and #ALSfightformylife
Consummate ALS Fighter and 2013 national campaign chair of Breakthrough ALS for the ALS Therapy Alliance