- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Stephen Hawking – A Brilliant Mind
At the young age of 21 Stephen was diagnosed with ALS "Amyotropical lateral sclerosis." When the doctors gave Stephen the devastating news, they only gave him two years to live.
ALS is a type of neuromuscular disease that gradually weakens muscular strength and the nerves of the spinal cord. Naturally, Stephen was traumatized and depressed by his diagnoses, and he began to withdraw from life.
A magical moment happened that changed Stephen’s life forever. He met Jane Wilde; she encouraged Stephen to resume his studies at Cambridge University where he became a Phd student. He was very enthusiastic about completing the research work for his PhD. He put his heart and soul into studying cosmology.
During his two years at Cambridge University, the effects of his ALS had been getting worse. The disease made it hard for Hawking to walk, and he began to use a cane but worst of all his speech became severely affected making it nearly impossible for anyone to understand him; Stephen earned his PhD degree in 1962.
The Grand Design
Love of His Life
Spending time with Jane kept Stephen's mind off of his disease, and he remained focused on his studies. They fell in love and married in 1965 and have three children.
Stephen is a brilliant scientist and at the age of 35, he won the highly prestigious”Albert Einstein Award.” Stephen has such an unusual brain; he is compared to Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac and Newton. From 1979 to 2009, Stephen held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663.
I'm fascinated like most people about his brilliant mind but more so I am intrigued by his longevity since his devastating diagnoses. I'm familiar with ALS and know there's no reason he should still be alive at the age of 72 after being diagnosed at 21. Most patients with ALS—also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, for the famous baseball player who succumbed to the disease—are diagnosed after the age of 50 and die within five years of their diagnosis.
What makes Stephen Hawking different than most who have this devastating disease? Perhaps the fact he was diagnosed at such a young age? Maybe it's a different version of this devastating condition? These are some of the questions I am curious about when I think about this brilliant man.
I would love to think that his love for his wife, and his family has kept him alive despite his many limitations. I imagine he has come to terms with it and has a good outlook on life beyond his disability.
I feel attitude goes a long way in terms of health and longevity for someone with a profound disability. I also feel he probably gets excellent medical care, which helps with extending his
life. I’m sure having such a brilliant mind absolutely plays a role in his long life.
The powerful message and legacy that Stephen Hawking is giving the disability community is that no matter what your struggles are you can rise above and have a meaningful life no matter what you face.