Jay Nagamatsu (left) and Dorothy Sonja are participating in the June 18 ALS Walk in honour of Sonja's husband Bo Hoglund (right)

Jay Nagamatsu (left) and Dorothy Sonja are participating in the June 18 ALS Walk in honour of Sonja's husband Bo Hoglund (right)

‘Hoglund’s Heroes’ gear up for ALS Walk

South Surrey orthodontist Bo Hoglund will be top-of-mind for a team in the upcoming ALS Walk, next weekend at Bear Creek Park.

A local orthodontist who was “a real rock in the community” will be top-of-mind for a team participating in next week’s 2016 Walk for ALS at Bear Creek Park.

Dr. Bo Hoglund “touched many people” through his work at White Rock Orthodontic Center, colleague Jay Nagamatsu said.

“Bo has treated many, many kids and adults in the Peninsula. Not only did we lose a good clinician, but a good friend.”

Hoglund died April 3, ending his three-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The progressive, neurodegenerative disease robs those it afflicts of their ability to walk, talk, swallow and eventually, breathe, all the while leaving their mind intact.

It’s a “really cruel” disease, Nagamatsu said.

For Hoglund, the first sign something was amiss was in March 2013, when his left hand stopped doing what he wanted it to.

“He would look at his hand – ‘why won’t you work?'” Nagamatsu said. “He knew exactly what to do, how to do it; his body wouldn’t allow it.”

Dorothy Sonya – Hoglund’s wife and colleague – said doctors first suspected carpal tunnel syndrome was at the root of her husband’s troubles. After months of tests that, one by one, eliminated other possible causes, ALS was pronounced.

Hoglund continued to work until July 2014. In the fall of that same year, he was given a glimmer of hope, with word his difficulties could be the result of an immune-related – and therefore treatable – muscular neuropathy.

But after two treatments that would have resulted in improvement if that was the case, Hoglund took a turn for the worse. Hospitalized with pneumonia last August, he died eight months later in Peace Arch Hospital. Survived by Sonya, a son and two daughters, he was 62.

“I really thought that maybe he was going to come home one more time,” Sonya said.

The couple met on Mother’s Day in 1998, at a conference in Whistler. Hoglund had travelled from Sweden to attend and they hit it off. After, they stayed in touch, then married in Sweden on July 1, 2000.

Noting that her husband was always in “such great shape,” and that, to this day, holds the record for the longest field goal in Iowa – a record he set in high school – Sonya said the ALS diagnosis was devastating.

“To have this disease hit you like that and out of left field… It took us a very long time to get our heads wrapped around that.”

She said Hoglund would be “honoured and very happy” with the orthodontic center team’s plan to participate in the June 18 Walk for ALS in his honour, in T-shirts adorned with his picture and the words ‘Hoglund’s Heroes’.

Donations to the team – which is currently the top fundraising team for the Surrey walk, with $2,865 raised so far – may be made at walkforals.ca; click on the link to the Surrey walk, then on ‘White Rock Orthodontic Center’.

For Sonya, raising awareness of ALS and the ALS Society – which supports those living with the disease – is key. She said doctors told her that research is bringing them closer to determining a cause; a finding they feel is still seven or eight years away, and could help unlock mysteries of other diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

“It’s too late for us,” she said. “(Hoglund) fought it in his way, in every way that he could.

“The message in all of this, for me, is just to continue to raise awareness for the disease… help families like we’ve been helped.”

For more information on the Surrey walk or donating, email volunteer@alsbc.ca or call 1-800-708-3228.