Faces of ALS: Anita Forté

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Anita Forté – Fighting ALS with Positivity and Gratitude

After having dealt with multiple ailments the past few years, along with ALS, there’s no doubt that Anita Forté is a fighter. She wakes up each morning and starts the day with positivity and gratitude. Anita says, “I am a miracle. The fact that I am here to tell people my story despite what I have been through, is a miracle. I am deeply grateful for life no matter what it looks like.”

Anita was diagnosed with ALS in August 2019. Prior to her diagnosis, she was falling quite a bit and suffered from neuropathy in her left foot. Following a series of tests, Anita was referred to the Lois Insolia ALS Clinic at the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine for a second opinion where it was confirmed that she had ALS.

At the clinic, she met her team including clinic director and neurologist, Dr. Senda Ajroud- Driss and pulmonologist, Dr. Lisa Wolfe.

“Dr. Wolfe is amazing. She cares. She takes her time, listens, and makes recommendations on my care that are appropriate for me.”

Although Anita’s primary caregiver is her husband Tyrone, their daughter Danielle spends a lot of her time caring for her mother. For Danielle, seeing her mother no longer enjoy activities that she once participated in has been difficult: “Prior to my mother being diagnosed, she was very active. She volunteered, was very active in her church, loved cooking, and testing new recipes. Although she can no longer do these things, I try my best to keep her spirits up and help make her life easier. My mom has the difficult job of battling ALS, and I will do everything that I can do to make it a little bit easier. My mother is strong. She’s a fighter. With liver cancer and with ALS, she continues to push every day, but I know that it’s not easy.”

In addition to her family, Anita finds comfort and assistance from her ALS Support Services Coordinator, Julie Stowell, RN. She says, “Julie is so full of information. I can tell her about something that I need and if she doesn’t know the answer, she will research it and get an answer for me. Julie recently connected me with a therapist for which I am thankful. She listens to me and makes constructive suggestions. She keeps me informed about what’s going on at the Foundation.”

Anita is fortunate to have the support of her family, friends, and her medical team; however, many people of color, and especially women, in need of medical assistance and resources, continue to face challenges. ALS does not discriminate – it can impact anyone, regardless of race, gender, creed, or social status. Anita says, “I don’t know how I got this disease or what caused it. It’s obvious to me that anyone can get it, no matter your race or gender.”

Danielle adds, “I’m a licensed mental health therapist. Healthcare for people of color is harder to obtain, especially in areas where services and resources are just not available. With the pandemic, this issue is even more apparent. My mom had experiences where she was in a lot of pain and not feeling well, but her symptoms were dismissed. And that happens a lot, especially in our community, and especially with women. After being dismissed repeatedly, women begin to distrust the healthcare system. This impacts (women) overall because we aren’t getting the quality care that we need and deserve. Fortunately, we now have more telehealth options, so more doctors are accessible. Because of this, people have more opportunities to reach out to them and start the conversation.”

Anita continues to persevere and face each day with positivity and gratitude: “All of these challenges play a role in my attitude daily. I have my faith in God. I have my family and close family friends. My church and my pastors are there to help me through this journey. It’s tough, but I stay strong and try to stay positive.”

Join us, along with Anita and the rest of the ALS community, to honor Dr. Lisa Wolfe at our 2022 Hope Through Caring Gala on May 21. For more information on the Gala, visit hopethroughcaring.org. We will also be premiering our latest Foundation video featuring Anita and her family. Come check it out!

 

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