Who hasn’t heard the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.”? Whether you're guffawing at a sitcom on television or giggling at a video on social media, laughing clearly does everyone good and arguably has some health benefits like helping to relieve stress, depression and anxiety, just to name a few.
No one knows this better than social media star Brooke Eby. Diagnosed with ALS in March 2022 at the age of 33, Brooke is using her innate sense of humor and positive outlook on life to help raise awareness and funding for ALS research. “Levity is my superpower,” she shared during a recent interview with Savannah Guthrie on the Today Show. “It’s really how I’m bringing my story to the world; I’m trying to use humor and really let ALS be heard.”
It all started in 2018 when she noticed a slight limp and was having difficulty pushing off her left foot. “It was slapping on the ground, and I assumed it was some sort of workout injury. I was like, ‘wow, I must be really in shape if I am starting to limp from a basic workout,’” she shared on a recent Connecting ALS podcast episode. After an arduous four-year process visiting different doctors and undergoing numerous tests, she was finally diagnosed with ALS.
Speaking for herself, Brooke admits she thought ALS was something that just affected older people, largely male, and never pictured it to be a disease someone like her would ever be diagnosed with. “I think we just have this idea in our head of what someone with ALS looks like, and it's not a young woman who seems very much alive,” she said.
Brooke recalls after her diagnosis she went home and crawled into bed crying with a party-size bag of M&M’s. “I was in such shock that I almost, it was just survival,” she said. “But as I started coming out of that, I think my natural inclination to making jokes about it just kicked in and I was like, ‘there's so many comical things that happen when you get a diagnosis like this when you're young.’ Imagine trying to date when you're like, ‘by the way, I'm using a cane now.’”
“I don't think a lot of people want to watch; they want to turn away when they hear about ALS. That is natural human instinct, just this is devastating. I don't want to consume more content about this,” she said. “So if I make it a little bit lighter, I find that people are more eager to ask questions and to have conversations about it and hopefully carry on conversations outside of just TikTok and Instagram.”
Brooke continues to attack ALS head-on, driving awareness through her growing social media channels. “Knowing that I still have my voice, I still have a slow progressing case, ‘knock on wood.’ I was like, I think it's my responsibility to share my story and hopefully people will start caring more. It's such an easy thing to look away from because you're like, ‘I don't want this. I don't want to hear sad news. This isn't happening to me, so I can just turn away.’ But once you see someone like me who could be your daughter or your sister or your friend or your mom, depending on your age, you can start saying, ‘wow, this might actually affect me. So I'm going to care a little bit more.’”
When asked what was on the horizon for her, Brooke shared that she’s still working fulltime and is just living her life every day, enjoying spending time with her boyfriend and her dog, and family and friends, while using her voice to make a difference. “I'm just trying to control the piece that I can, which is rallying people, getting them to donate, getting them to call their congress person,” she said. “It's just like wherever the wind takes me when it comes to social media, I'll wake up with an idea and hope that it works and post it. But yeah, just like living my life beyond that.”
Special thanks to Brooke Eby for allowing us to share her inspiring story. If you would like to follow her on her journey with ALS, you can find her online HERE.
To listen to the Connecting ALS Podcast, “A Conversation with Brooke Eby,” CLICK HERE.