About ALS Warrior Jenn

My name is Jennifer Schroedl. I'm a 47-year-old single mother who is living with ALS. Here is my story and why I've decided that ALS no longer stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis but instead, Always Laughing and Smiling.

At 10 years old I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. I remember doctors telling me at 13 years old, you’ll end up in a wheelchair, you’ll be unable to have children and will more than likely need assisted living. Even at such a young age, I recall looking at the doctor and saying “I don’t know who you’re talking about, but surely it isn’t me!” for the next 32 years, I went on to live a wonderfully independent life. I had a successful career, I got married, and my biggest accomplishment...I became a mother. Little did I know the tenacity and grit I found within myself at such a young age, was going to help me become the warrior I am today fighting the epic battle against ALS.

My ALS story began In 2017. I was suffering from what I thought was a pinched nerve in my right shoulder. I was no stranger to the aches and pains of arthritis. I wrote it off as such and just powered through each day. But as it continued to worsen, I decided to seek out medical attention. After a year of seeing doctor after doctor with no definitive solution or explanation I was sent to the neurology department at the University of Washington. On December 13, 2018 my entire world was flipped upside down. The ultimate sucker punch was delivered to me on that day. I was diagnosed with ALS and given 2-5 years to live. Although the day is a bit of blur, I remember clearly telling the doctor “I can’t have this! I’m a single mom! My daughter needs me."

Since my diagnosis, I have experienced several layers of emotions. I had to grieve my former life. I would experience a roller coaster of emotions on a daily basis. Anger, denial, depression were regular visitors that I became oddly comfortable with. Even today, two years post-diagnosis, I'd be lying if I said I'm not still visited by those feelings. The difference is I've learned to embrace them. I've learned to acknowledge them, pat them on the head and send them on their way. I give myself grace on the bad days and thank God for the good ones. I soak up every last drop of laughter that comes out of my daughter's beautiful smile. I treat every day as a gift and now, more than ever, understand that tomorrow isn't promised. I've had to dig deep into my past to lean on that little 13-year old girl's tenacious personality and become the warrior I am today. I fight for my daughter. I fight for my family and friends. I fight for every ALS patient out there becoming the warrior they never knew they had in them! Until my last breath, I will fight this beast called ALS...And i'll do it Always Laughing & Smiling!