Andrew Debogorski and Myriam Paquin have married at Yellowknife’s St Patrick’s Parish Church.
Andrew proposed to Myriam last October, in Hawaii.
Yellowknife has been packed with the extensive Debogorski family and their friends for the past few days, while messages of support flooded in online – including from fans of Ice Road Truckers, the TV show in which Andrew’s father, Alex, starred.
Andrew was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease – in June 2017. Since then, a September fundraising event and an online campaign to fund his treatment and medical travel have raised tens of thousands of dollars.
A week before Saturday afternoon’s wedding, Andrew’s sister, Julaine, said Andrew now “needs help all hours of the day” as his condition deteriorates.
“His walking, speech, and hand movements have rapidly declined, so it takes a tremendous amount of effort to complete simple tasks (with assistance),” Julaine wrote on Facebook.
“His speech has become increasingly slurred, which limits his communication abilities, especially when fatigued. This is a source of major frustration for Andrew, but luckily he has been learning to use an eye gazer system which is being rented from the ALS Society of Alberta.
“Andrew says that all of these changes to his body and abilities have a serious effect on his mood, but for the most part he is still able to maintain a happy demeanour and always a sense of humour.”
‘Two big milestones’
ALS is a disease causing gradual paralysis as the brain loses its ability to communicate with various muscles.
Diagnoses typically come with a life expectancy of two to five years following the onset of symptoms, though the ALS Association says five percent of those diagnosed live for a further 20 years or more.
In her online update, Julaine Debogorski suggested Andrew and Myriam are expecting a child in August.
Last year, speaking to CBC North, Andrew said: “You have heard the age-old adage, what’s the point of living a long miserable life? I might be gone five years from now, and that’s a possibility, so why would I be sad?
“When you are faced with a big, massive challenge like this, the regular stresses that all of us go through, it’s easier to slough off.”
The family says online donations have helped Andrew to access the newest medication for ALS, which is reported to decrease symptoms in some cases by up to 30 percent. Treatment for Andrew involves regular hospital treatment, physiotherapy, and massage, along with costly appointments in Edmonton.
“Andrew has insurance coverage to help pay for a part-time registered nurse to support him at home, if you know of someone who has experience in this area, please let us know,” Julaine wrote in last week’s update.
“With the condition of Andrew’s body and the disease constantly progressing, his needs are growing, and we continue to lean on our community for whatever support they are able to provide. If you would like to put money toward specific therapy session, such as physio, reach out and we can give you additional info.
“Soon we will be thinking about more fundraising efforts for the next year, but for now we focus on the two big milestone days coming up for Andrew and his family: getting married and welcoming a new baby into the world.”