In 2001, Patricia and Oran Hamilton welcomed their son Patrick into the world. As Patricia started this new chapter in her life, she knew that she wanted to cherish every moment of motherhood. Over the years, she watched as her son grew, encouraging his love of learning.
When Patrick was 11, Patricia started experiencing weakness in her hand, and went to a neurologist who gave her three different diagnoses. In March 2014, she was finally diagnosed with ALS.
Working as a Forensic Accountant with the Department of Justice, Patricia had a flexible schedule so she could attend every school play, musical, and party, as well as Boy Scout activities and baseball practices and games. As Patrick transitioned from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, Patricia’s energy level had decreased, and although she continued to support his desire to attain Eagle rank, she wasn’t able to participate in any activities that required expending a great deal of energy. She had to miss camping and all the activities that groom young boys to become independent adults.
One of her favorite subjects in school was math, and Patricia encouraged Patrick to love it too.
“We played games to make it fun,” Patricia said. “When he earned the math award in middle school, I was so excited and proud. ALS was in the process of robbing me of so much, but it did not hold a candle to the joy of that evening.”
While in middle school, Patrick joined the band and currently plays the alto saxophone for the Atascocita High School Military Marching Band in Humble, Texas. He also performs with the concert band during University Interscholastic League competition.
“I am probably biased, but he is a good saxophone player, and watching him perform makes me a proud parent,” Patricia said. “I love good music, and it gives me an opportunity to focus on something positive and enlightening.”
Since retiring in October 2016, Patricia finds herself focused on activities she cannot perform.
“As a mother and wife, I try unsuccessfully to hide my disappointment in this devastating disease,” Patricia said. “Being negative is so exhausting and as difficult as it is, I try to remember my husband’s advice to focus on the things I can do and forget the ones that are difficult.
Patricia spends time every day researching ways she can contribute to ALS awareness and fundraising to help with research for the cure. She serves as a captain for Pat’s Angels, her Walk to Defeat ALS team. Her family and friends are supportive and committed to fundraising and volunteering in whatever capacity is needed. She has 50-60 people on her Walk team and hopes to see it grow this year.
Patricia and her husband attended the ALS Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., where they learned about ALS advocacy and research, as well as met with Congressional staff to share about their journey with ALS. Patricia and her husband met numerous ALS patients, their caregivers, and ALS Association employees.
“The highlight of the conference was when we went to Capitol Hill to tell stories about our ALS journey and to stress the urgency for continuation of research funding and elimination of the five-month waiting period to receive Medicare benefits,” Patricia said.
Patricia offered a final word of advice to anyone battling ALS:
“You always think that these things happen to someone else, not you,” Patricia said. “There’s always something to learn, and this has led us in a direction we didn’t think we’d ever go in. You’ve got to keep your chin up and be active and do the best you can.”