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Providence ALS specialist accepts nephew's challenge

Doctor sees ice bucket challenge craze as big boost toward finding a cure


While everyone and their brother, sister, neighbor and Facebook friend, it seems, is getting in on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon, at least one Portland-area amyotrophic lateral sclerosis specialist took a moment from her medical pursuits to join in the action.

Dr. Kimberly Goslin, medical director of the Providence ALS Center in Northeast Portland, which includes a number of Beaverton-area patients, shared her excitement around the Ice Bucket Challenge along with her hope that a cure is in sight for ALS, a nervous system disease that causes muscle weakness and affects physical function.

Like anyone who’s spent more than two minutes online or watching TV in the last month, Goslin was well aware of the challenge, in which friends and relatives challenge each other to create a short video of him or her being doused with ice water from a cooler or bucket. Each person who takes the challenge, in turn challenges another, with the goal of raising money and awareness to benefit research into ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Of the many challenges she received, it took a young relative to tip the proverbial ice bucket.

“I did it about a week ago,” Goslin said. “And it’s funny, as an ALS specialist, I got many, many challenges, hundreds of challenges. And then my nephew, who’s 5 years old, did the challenge and sent me a challenge, and so I had to do it.”

The reaction from those in the ALS community is one of extreme enthusiasm and encouragement.

“Everyone is talking about it, and I see lots of patients and my ALS patients are talking about it, and even my non-ALS patients are talking about it,” she said. “I think there’s just a true happiness that they’re finally being recognized and their struggles are acknowledged. And I think for the first time in a long time there’s a real genuine sense of hope that this new funding and this new awareness is going to really lead to a cure. It’s a really exciting level of hope in the community.”

Calling ALS a “devastating” and fatal disease, Goslin said research developments are to the point where the disease’s progression can be slowed and patients’ quality of life improved. Despite what she calls an “explosion” of “exciting” research in recent years, there remains no cure.

“ALS has traditionally and consistently been underfunded, and so having this influx of funding at this point where there’s a lot of exciting things happening is just amazing,” she said. “I think (the challenge) really has the potential to push toward a cure.”

Recent breakthroughs, she emphasized, make that goal a “step or two” away, with the recent burst of awareness and fundraising only accelerating the momentum.

“I think (with) this higher level of awareness where people are really talking and communicating about it, it may not be that far,” she said. “It may be years, but I think the hope that it is within the lifetime of the patients who have it.”

Hearing stories of the special sensation that is ice water poured over one’s head, Goslin made sure she had a trusted companion, her husband, do the pouring, while holding out for the best weather conditions.

“The thing that I said and that everyone says is ‘Wow, that’s really cold,’” she said. “It’s so much colder than you think it’s going to be, but it’s over fast, and I did it on a hot day.”

To be fair in helping to spread the word, Goslin got to douse her husband after challenging him.

Clare Cross, a registered nurse and care manager at the Providence ALS Center, said it’s only natural Goslin would take time from her schedule to join in on the Ice Bucket Challenge.

“She works with patients through their blood, sweat and tears, so she would do this,” Cross said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she took this challenge every day.”

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