THE ADVOCATE 343
VOL. 79 PART 3 MAY 2021
FROM LAWYER TO FIGHTER:
HOW I BECAME AN ADVOCATE FOR ALS
By Greg Gowe
T his is an article I never wanted to write. This is a story I never
wanted to be mine.
In May 2019, I was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
(“ALS”), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In the two
years since then, my life has changed completely. Once a practising lawyer
and active father and husband, I can no longer walk, carry a cup of coffee
or pick up my children. ALS is now even taking my ability to speak.
But I’m sharing my journey with you, the B.C. legal community, because
I am now one hundred per cent committed to ALS advocacy. By sharing my
story with you, I am hoping you can join me in ending ALS for good.
With everything I have, I am working to help build a movement to
#EndALS. I’ve helped found a patient-led organization, ALS Action Canada,1
with families impacted by ALS from all across the country.
For the first time ever, ALS patients and their loved ones have real hope
in the form of promising new drug therapies. At ALS Action Canada, we are
working fiercely to bring these therapies, new clinical trials and research
investment to Canada.
But this was never my plan. Or my family’s.
HOW IT STARTED: A DEVASTATING DIAGNOSIS
For almost 20 years, before ALS came crashing into our lives, I was a lawyer.
Called to the bar in May 2002, my first job was at Lawson Lundell in Vancouver,
where I had articled. I practised labour and employment law there
for several years.
At that point, my wife Adrienne and I didn’t have children. We knew we
wanted kids, so before trying to start our family, we decided to take a year
off work and just travel together, our last big trip as a couple before the
responsibilities of parenthood.
So we saved some money, quit our jobs, packed up our VW van and took
what ended up being the trip of our lives, driving all the way down to the
Panama Canal and back again. We hit what felt like every deserted beach,
taco stand and small town along the way.