Pittsburgh Steelers

Former Steeler Tunch Ilkin diagnosed with ALS, plans to ‘fight’

PITTSBURGH — Tunch Ilkin revealed Thursday that he has been diagnosed a week ago with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Ilkin, the Steelers' former right tackle and still the team’s radio color commentator, made the diagnosis public in a video interview done for The Bible Chapel, a non-denominational church with locations throughout the Pittsburgh region, where he’s the Pastor of Men’s Ministry:

Doctors at UPMC made Ilkin’s initial diagnosis, then sent him to the Cleveland Clinic, where the diagnosis was confirmed.

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ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease which attacks motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in the wasting away of muscle and loss of movement. According to the ALS Therapy Development Institute, there are an estimated 30,000 people in the United States living with ALS at any given time, most people live 3-5 years after the first sign of the disease, and 10 percent live at least 10 years.

Ilkin acknowledged experiencing headaches and other physical discomfort as long as a year ago.

“I want to fight this thing,” Ilkin spoke in the video to Ron Moore, Senior Pastor at The Bible Chapel. “With the help of Jehovah Rapha, the Lord, my healer, with the help of God. You know, I’m not gonna lie down and take this lightly. I’m working out four days a week. I’m walking. My prayer walk, an hour every morning. I’m jumping on my mini-trampoline for a half-hour every day.”

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