One of the original co-founders of the popular local digital media publisher Clark County Live! recently disclosed that they had been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Mitch Canton, who co-founded the site in 2008 with his wife Melanie and other family members, was originally diagnosed with the disease in the spring of 2021.
There is no known cause for ALS, and at this point there is no cure. ALS is 100% fatal.
“Launching Clark County Live! into this community over a dozen years ago and watching it grow into an incredibly popular community resource has been one of the greatest professional achievements of my life,” said Mitch Canton. “Like the saying goes, ‘love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life,’ well, for me, that has been Clark County Live!”
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurological disorder that damages nerve cells. The disease particularly affects motor neurons, the nerve cells that control voluntary movements, causing them to shrink and die. With the loss of these nerve cells, the brain is no longer able to move muscles or control muscle movement.
“It’s kind of like winning the reverse lotto,” Canton added. “About 1 in 50,000 people are diagnosed with ALS each year. Over 90% those cases are totally random. My number just came up.”
“At this point, all I can control is my attitude. As I’ve already told those close to me, this disease will take my ability to walk, to eat, to talk, and eventually to even breathe. But it will never take my faith, my fight, my hope, or my love. ALS will not define me, only I am in control of that.”
As Mitch Canton was forced to step aside last year to start this new battle, Clark County Live! has been able to continue operations through the efforts of his wife Melanie and a small group of others who have kept it going. But, as for its future, so much is unknown.
“I’m part of a family that runs six generations deep in Clark County. We originally settled here back in the 1860’s. So helping launch Clark County Live! was a dream gig for me. Watching what was once a small project grow to over 40,000 local newsletter subscribers makes us incredibly proud. We know we have a loyal and highly engaged community of users, and that loyalty goes both ways. We will continue to do what we can to publish stories about the people, places, and events that resonate with our community,” Canton added.
Meanwhile, the Canton family and those around them gear up for a brutal battle with a ruthless terminal disease.
Canton said he hoped to be a vocal and visible proponent for ALS patients, caregivers, and families. He said he hoped to document some of his challenges along the journey, and work to bring a better awareness about the cruelty of this fatal disease.
“Look, I’ve done the research. I know the numbers. I’m aware of the final outcome. I have this radical acceptance of my situation. It is going to be the ugliest, most stressful, and most expensive fight we’ve ever come across. So be it, it’s the hand I’ve been dealt,” Canton concluded. “I have this guiding philosophy. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. This may sound somewhat strange, but I feel incredibly blessed to know that I have a limited amount of quality life remaining. It gives me the opportunity to live like I was dying, and I tell you what, I’m not going quietly.”
Because of the extensive medical and physical accommodations needed to care for patients, ALS is one of the most expensive health battles a family can face. A National Institute of Health (NIH) report showed that the average ‘disease duration’ cost of ALS related care to be over $1.43 million dollars. While much of that is covered by insurance, many medical care costs, home health care, and almost all of the physical accommodations expenses are borne by the patient and their families. To help offset some of the significant expenses associated with ALS care, friends of the Canton family have set up a GoFundMe donation account for the Canton family where donations can be made to help the family in this battle.