Sands took on ALS with positivity

Water well in Africa will drilled in his honour this year

Mike Sands died earlier this month after four-year struggle with ALS

Mike Sands died earlier this month after four-year struggle with ALS

Mike Sands, a Maple Ridge father whose experiences with ALS were chronicled on a blog, has passed away, four years after being diagnosed with the disease.

Sands, 52, died Jan. 5.

Based on his wife Nadine’s account of the disease, which slowly robs people of the ability to move, speak, eat or breathe, Mike was a model patient.

She said he always looked on the bright side, focused on what he could do and never asked why it was him who had the disease.

“He just never complained, right to the end. He just stayed really positive.”

His wife was the main caregiver and said her husband wasn’t angry or mad or depressed.

“He made my job a lot easier because he wasn’t mad.”

Nadine said Mike spent two nights in the hospital and on the second day was improving and plans were made to take him home.

“That day, he just passed away. It just kind of happened quickly.”

Nadine chronicled the progress of the disease on her blog, ALS With Courage.

Her writings are now forming the basis of a book she’s writing, Hold On, Let Go.

Nadine refers to the obituary that followed his memorial service, which took place Jan. 16 at Maple Ridge Baptist Church.

“His chains are gone, he’s been set free. He’s doing cartwheels now with Jesus and enjoying steak dinners and fettuccine.

“Talk is cheap, so walk the walk. Be generous. Never give up.”

Sands ran for Maple Ridge council twice unsuccessfully and worked at Riverview Hospital as a psychiatric nurse. He was up on all the issues and wrote letters to the editor.

Through Project Wellness, Sands also went on many trips to Malawi, Africa to help drill wells for clean water.

However, the disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, slowly robbed him of the ability to communicate.

“That was the hardest part for him, to lose the ability to speak.”

When that happened, he used a device that attached to his head which allowed him to move a curser on a screen.

But in the last eight months, he didn’t have the strength to move his head. Then he had to identify each letter of every word he wanted spelled out by raising his eyebrows.

“It took a long time to get out those sentences.”

Nadine is grateful for the help of friends and family and church.

“Just the community rallied around us. We’re so thankful and grateful for all the support.”

Instead of flowers, donations were accepted for Project Wellness. One of those wells will be drilled in Mike’s name in a few weeks in Malawi.

Nadine said last year’s Ice Bucket Challenge did a lot to raise money and awareness to fight ALS.

“You continue to hope for others obviously, because you just don’t want anyone else to have to endure this illness. It’s pretty terrible.”

Mike Sands is survived by his three children, Erin, Nathan and Madison.