Villager’s chance encounter with ‘angel’ inspires her after ALS diagnosis

March 30 was a dark day for Village of Mira Mesa resident Carole Lynch. After months and months of doctor visits, tests and trips to see specialists, the diagnosis was official Carole has ALS ~ Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was full of despair and kept the news to herself for a time. Admittedly she had thoughts of suicide.

“I’ll know everything that is happening to me and eventually I won’t be able to talk or move,” she said.

She wasn’t sure she could handle it.

A brief encounter with a stranger at Starbuck’s changed her outlook and Carole wants to share her message of hope. She and her life partner of 25 years, Roy Decker, were sitting outside Starbucks. Roy struck up a conversation with a man walking with a cane; asking him if he had had a hip or knee replacement. He responded that no he was using a cane because he had MS. Carole said he must have seen the sorrow on their faces because he said, “it is the best thing that could have happened to me. I am on disability so I stayed home and watched my kids grow up and I’m in no pain.” He smiled and continued on his way.

Carole said, “When I woke up the next morning, it hit me – God had sent me an angel! I thought about what he said and thanked God for that man. He saw the good side of his illness instead of the bad.” Putting pen to paper Carole started finding the good side of her illness.

She came up with the following:

All of my life I wished I could stop dieting and eat all the fattening foods I loved. NOW I CAN.

I wished I was thin. NOW I AM.

Carole Lynch with her longtime partner, Roy Decker.
Carole Lynch with her longtime partner, Roy Decker.

Carole’s first symptoms as it turns out started last August. She had what she thought was a case of laryngitis that just wouldn’t get any better. She also felt herself getting weaker. There was a big change in her health from January to March. She has lost about 15 pounds which the doctors want her to put back on. She is doing it with protein shakes, but also points to some eclairs and other treats in her refrigerator that normally she would never allow herself.

I wished I had a lot of friends. NOW I DO.

I wished I could have more visitors to my home. NOW I DO.

Referring to her friends, she says “They are coming out of the woodwork, and I love it! I had forgotten how many I had.” One friend mails her a card every day. A group of friends rotate and make sure she is not alone whenever Roy has to be away. Her home is filled with cards and flowers. “I don’t have time to be depressed.”  One thing that scares her she says tearfully is that eventually her friends will forget about her. “Right now it is all new and everyone is reaching out but as time goes on . . .” she trails off. However, some of her friends have already assured her they will be with her.

I wished Roy and I could do more together. NOW WE DO.

Roy hardly ever leaves her side. In fact she had to insist he get back to his water volleyball team. Roy is on one of the top teams that participated in the Senior Games, and she really did not want him to give that up.

I wished Roy and I could go to church together. NOW WE DO.

And my biggest wish is that my son Brett would come to Florida and visit. AND NOW HE DOES.   

As her condition was worsening without being able to find answers locally her son Brett came for a visit and made the arrangements to get her to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville where she got the proper tests and diagnosis. Carole has lived here 15 years and it was Brett’s first visit.

Carole Lynch in New York on New Year’s Day 2016 with her daughter Lorraine, son Brett and Roy.
Carole Lynch in New York on New Year’s Day 2016 with her daughter Lorraine, son Brett and Roy.

“He has a high-power job with Citigroup and never takes time off,” said Carole. He now reaches her by text daily and is on the hunt for clinical trials and whatever else might be out there. He also now visits her regularly. She is also in constant touch with her daughter Lorraine who lives in North Carolina.

“God found a way to give me all of these things and with no pain – just like the man we met at Starbucks. Thank you Lord. I am going to fight this!”