Bob Goffin

Bob Goffin

ALS walk helps Saanich family heal

For Shanna Juszko, the hardest part about losing her mother is not being able to hear her voice.

For Shanna Juszko, the hardest part about losing her mother is not being able to hear her voice.

“I used to talk to her three times a day,” Juszko says.

Juszko’s mother, Dianna Goffin, passed away from amyotrohpic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, in July, after a short, seven-month battle with the disease.

“For me, it’s (remembering her) every day. I wake up in the morning and think, ‘Oh, I haven’t talked to mum in awhile, I should call her.’

“Then I realize…,” she says, her voice softening as her eyes grow damp.

ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s, is a fatal neuromuscular disease. It attacks the body’s nerves, used to send messages from the brain to the muscles. Eventually, those diagnosed with ALS lose all mobility, including the ability to speak, swallow and breathe. However, the brain often remains healthy and alert.

The average life expectancy for people diagnosed with ALS is three to five years.

Born in Comox, Dianna spent most of her life in Campbell River and lived in Courtenay for the past six years. The active 64-year-old loved hockey, golfing and knitting. But most of all, she loved her family.

“She just loved life, and travelling, and spending time with family and friends,” her daughter says.

After retiring, Dianna spent the next 11 years travelling throughout B.C., the Yukon, Alberta, and the western United States with her husband, Bob Goffin.

The couple of almost 45 years spent winters down south. But this past winter, their trip was cut short. After leaving their Courtney home last October, Dianna knew something was wrong.

“Her muscles were twitching and she just generally didn’t feel all that great,” Juszko recalls.

By the end of November, the Goffins returned to Saanich, convinced by their daughter to stay with her.

Dianna was diagnosed with ALS on Dec. 5, 2011. “She was angry,” Justzko says. “She was really angry. And for the first little while (asked), ‘Why me? Why did this happen to me?’”

In January, her health took a downturn. During a family outing, Dianna experienced a foot drop, a common sign of ALS where the muscles in the foot become too weak to lift the leg.

She learned let go of the anger, and Dianna started enjoying the time she had left with her family.

The Goffins even hosted a family barbecue, with about 25 guests, at their home the night before Dianna passed.

“We didn’t realize it was going to be that fast,” Juszko says. “She actually came outside and sat with everybody for the barbecue.”

That next day, on July 10, Dianna’s breathing got worse. And within 45 minutes she passed away with her family by her side.

“She decided she wanted to go gracefully, with as much dignity as possible. She fought it right till the end.”

Juszko, her father, and almost 30 family and friends will participate in the Victoria Walk for ALS on Sunday, in memory of Dianna. It’s their first year walking to help raise funds for the ALS Society of B.C. – which goes towards equipment and support for families affected by ALS, as well as research to find a cure.

Besides supporting the Goffin family, the society also provided Dianna with much-needed equipment and care, which costs an average $137,000 per patient.

The Victoria Walk for ALS takes place Sept. 16, 12:30 p.m. in Lot 6 at the University of Victoria. The walk around Ring Road starts at 1 p.m.

Last year’s event raised $28,000. This year, organizers aim to raise $35,000.

To register for this year’s walk, see walkforals.ca. For more information, email victoriawalk@alsbc.ca.

Grim facts of ALS

About 3,000 Canadians currently live with ALS and each day, two to three Canadians die from the disease.

There is no known cause of ALS, nor is there a cure. Ninety per cent of those diagnosed with ALS die within five years.

editor@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read