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Stephen Hawking beat the odds with ALS, and then some

The fact that physicist Stephen Hawking lived for decades with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, is remarkable.

That's according to the executive director of the Upstate Chapter of the ALS Association, Elizabeth Krisanda.

“The average life expectancy for someone with ALS is two to five years since diagnosis.  So for someone like Stephen Hawking who lived for 50 years, that is incredibly rare,” she said.  “In our chapter, we have patients who may live 10 to 15 years, and that’s still exceedingly rare.”

Krisanda says nobody knows why Hawking was able to live so long with the disease.

But he could be an inspiration with others living with ALS.

Stephen Hawking lived for over 50 years with ALS

“Stephen Hawking embraced continuing to live, as best as he could.  As his physical body deteriorated, he was able to embrace the use of technology so that he could continue to be productive," she said.

Krisanda says the ALS Association tries to help people continue to live their lives as best as they can, given that this disease is going to continue to progress.

The Upstate Chapter served 325 patients last year.

But Krisanda says for as many people who find them each month, the same number pass away.