MDA: Mom finds strength in her fight against ALS

10:26 PM, Sep 1, 2010   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

O'Fallon, MO (KSDK) -- By at least two accounts, the best mom in the world lives in this O'Fallon house.

"She's the best," says eight-year-old George Gump.

So when George and his six-year-old sister, Emily, sit down to make their mom a card, instead of crayons, they use their hearts.

"Every day they just exude such sweetness," says mom Jessica Gump.

The best time for Jessica Gump has always been family time.

"It fills me with such joy," she says.

Keeping busy was never a problem what with the kids, her full time job as a computer programmer and her exercise routine.

"I was a runner and I was hoping someday that I would be able to run a marathon," says Jessica.

But when she got pregnant with her second child, she started having trouble walking.

"I noticed a limp and that was pretty much the only symptom," says Pete Gump, Jessica's husband.

"Being pregnant, I thought, 'oh, it's just my body,'" says Jessica.

At first doctors thought it was just a pinched nerve, but tests revealed something far more serious. Jessica got a devastating phone call telling her she had a progressive, usually fatal illness called ALS.

"My first thought was about the kids," says Jessica. "What is this going to do to them?"

ALS attacks the nerves causing muscles to break down and there is no cure.

"I wanted to be their pillar. I thought I'm going to be their pillar. I'm going to be the one person they can always count on," says Jessica. "And so if I'm not here, that's scary to think about. "

So if the kids were the most important thing then Jessica decided that attitude would be everything.

"She never complains. You wouldn't think anything is wrong. I mean she just keeps going," says her longtime friend Lisa Kuhn.

With the love and support of close friends, family and the Muscular Dystrophy Association,
instead of letting ALS attack her Jessica attacked life.

"People are just amazed with what she's facing how she can smile and go on," says Pete.

The children know that mom is getting weaker but others see an inner strength. And while half of all ALS patients die within three years of their diagnosis, Jessica recently passed her five year anniversary.

"I can still use my arms to hug them," says Jessica. "I can still say I love you. And those things are just really important to me."

So to George and Emily, Jessica truly is the best mom in the world and their reasoning is sound.

"I know why," says George. "She loves us."

It's true that time is more precious to those who have less of it.

One mom and her family believe that the time to worry might come tomorrow but never today.

"It's hard to feel sad," says Jessica, "when you're surrounded by so many good things."



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