St. Charles Herald-Guide

Hahnville native in good spirits despite Lou Gehrig’s diagnosis

By Kyle Barnett - September 6, 2013

It was 2008 when Hahnville-native Patricia Costa Hoffman, 44, began experiencing health issues.

Hoffman, a 1987 graduate of Hahnville High School, started getting unexplainable aches and pains and began having problems walking.  

“In the beginning, she was losing her balance and falling and her legs were hurting her. That is what caused her to originally go to a doctor,” Cheryl Mahler, Hoffman’s older sister, said.

Hoffman and her family knew something was wrong, they just did not know what it was. She would spend the next year in and out of doctors’ offices undergoing a battery of tests to determine the cause of her mysterious symptoms.

A year later, she was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also know as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a terminal illness that shuts down a person’s ability to control their muscles over a number of years.

Hoffman is now in her fourth year since being diagnosed with the disease. Although she can no longer walk and her speech is slurred, the disease doesn’t seem to be progressing as quickly with her as with some other patients.

“When they diagnose you they usually give you two to five years to live. Some people live much longer and some people live much less than that,” Mahler said. “Everybody is different and it just depends on how the particular patient is progressing. So she is going on four years now and I personally don’t foresee her leaving us in the next year, but you never know. Things could change at any moment.”

Mahler said although Hoffman’s ALS is not progressing as rapidly as it could be, the disease has been difficult for her family, including her 21 and 10 year old sons, to deal with.   

“It devastates me because she is not old enough to be gone. It’s hard in that respect to know that you are not going to have that much longer with her,” she said.   

Hoffman has kept on living her life as normally as possible despite going through the different stages of the disease.  

“She did clerical work,” Mahler said. “She was still working when she got the diagnosis and she continued to work as long as she could. Once it got to the point where she was no longer able to drive then she couldn’t get to work anymore.”

As her ALS has progressed, Hoffman has continued to stay as active as possible.

“She seems to be in good spirits with it. It doesn’t seem to have brought her down any,” Mahler said. “She still gets around. She has a powered wheelchair and she’s got a lift van. She is still doing and going to the things you and I would be able to go to.”

Allison Badgerow is Hoffman’s niece and goddaughter. She said watching her aunt go through the illness with such courage has been inspiring.

“Everything she is facing she still faces it with a smile. I don’t know how she does it to be honest with you. She is always laughing and smiling and there is never a dull moment,” she said.

In order to help Hoffman with medical expenses, Badgerow and the rest of Hoffman’s family have a fundraiser planned.

The event will take place at the VFW Hall, located at 140 Angus Drive in Luling, on Saturday, Sept. 14 from noon to 3 p.m.

Tickets are $5 and the benefit will feature a 50/50 raffle, a parade of prizes and drinks. Also, sweets will be for sale.

Badgerow said although the family has done other benefits for ALS as a whole, such as the ALS walk at Zephyr Field and other smaller scale fundraisers, this is the first time they will be doing something solely for Hoffman.

“Since she has been diagnosed we always did things that went straight to the cure, so we wanted to do something just to help her out with medical bills,” she said.

For more information, call (504)430-0797.

Patricia Hoffman was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2009. Four years later she is unable to walk, but her family says she remains in good spirits.
Patricia Hoffman was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2009. Four years later she is unable to walk, but her family says she remains in good spirits.