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Fireside Chat 

Dr. Jeff Sutherland

Please find the unanswered questions from Dr. Sutherland's fireside chat below.

I am able to have inner strength because of the loving relationships that I am surrounded with. 



I wish that I knew when first diagnosed that the best way to deal with an ALS diagnosis was to keep living and not to start dying. 


ALS is a horrible diagnosis for anyone. When you are first diagnosed, it seems like everything is taken from you. Your friend first needs to grieve, the enormous losses. Hopefully as they can then accept, adapt and move forward to finding out that it is possible to live without being physical. It is a big journey but if your friend is in loving relationships, does not feel like a burden, financially and to their family, there is a path forward. 


First, sorry to hear about your stroke but I am so happy for your sharing your unique story of hope to others. My first audiences were with my home town, church and the ALS community and then with the bereaved community. Start with your communities and the rest will manifest. 


Great question Greg, Thanks! 

I know that people have to have 'something' to be resilient for and like all things takes work. 

Like a patient quitting to smoke, as clinicians, we show them the evidence of how it will help them but ultimately they have to put the work into making it happen. Building skills of resiliency takes work. It also takes resources which are just becoming more available as research shows the benefit of choosing positive coping strategies on mental and physical health. I think that this is the 'buy in' for people struggling with chronic health problems, they need to know that by learning to become resilient they are helping their future health. 

If helping their own health is not reason enough, research is starting to suggest through epigenetic studies that tragedy and chronic stress in a home can not only effect others in the family mentally but also change chromosomes and can be passed on to future generations. For students, I believe that well being skills need to be taught in medical school. With physician burn out on an increase this is even more important.  If one looks at the factors that increase resiliency they are habits of well being : physical exercise, mindfulness, surrounding yourself with positive positive loving relationships, optimism, altruistic acts, and knowing what are positive coping strategies and what are negative coping strategies. As students develop their own tool box of strategies for well being, they can more readily call upon them during times of stress. 


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