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Caregiver says ALS diagnosis changes entire way of life

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(WTRF) – It’s a tragedy that turned a sports legend’s career upside down.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Tunch Ilkin recently announced he’s retiring to focus on tretatment for ALS.

He played on the field for 14-years as an offensive lineman, but now the former broadcaster is also taking a break from the radio.

Longtime Steelers broadcaster Ilkin retiring to fight ALS

ALS caregiver Lisa Radick says after diagnosis things become different, not just in career but also in everyday life. She witnessed it first-hand in her own patients.

ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Radick explains it’s a degenerative disease that takes a toll on your body. Everything begins to shut down; your hands, arms, legs, and eventually it could take away your ability to talk.

It is fatal. There’s no cure for it. Radick says everything a patient lived for goes away in a matter of three to five years.

However she explains that doesn’t take away from who Ilkin is to his family, friends, and fans.

You got to remember who he is, what he’s done and what he’s lived through. He’s an athlete. He’s a star. He’s a champion in the minds of many. He’s a role model, but now he’s got this degenerative disease where all the things he’s done, all these things he’s lived for, he’s not gonna be able to do anymore. Little by little, it’s going to go away until it’s gone.

Lisa Radick, ALS Caregiver

Ilkin’s accomplished a lot in his time on the field. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler who played 13 of his 14 NFL seasons in Pittsburgh. The last 23 years of his career he spent it as a broadcaster for the team.

Radick said we must remember him as the sports legend he was. To his family and friends, she says be patient and pray.

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