BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Longtime WAFB news anchor Donna Britt has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, she announced Thursday.
"Donna is the heart and soul of our newsroom," said WAFB News Director Robb Hays. "Our prayers are with her and we know that she takes great comfort in knowing the prayers of the entire community are also behind her."
"I plan to continue working until the quality of my work suffers," Donna said.
Donna is currently using a wheelchair.
ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
According to the ALS Association, recent years have brought a wealth of new scientific understanding regarding the physiology of this disease. There is currently one FDA-approved drug, riluzole, that modestly slows the progression of ALS in some people, the group says. Although there is not yet a cure or treatment that halts or reverses ALS, scientists have made significant progress in learning more about the disease.
"Just know that I am treating ALS as a part of living," Donna said. "I won't be dying every day. That's not my way. You will survive longer if you meet each challenge, figure out how to cope, and keep going. It's kind of like surfing and not letting the waves take you out."
Donna has been very open about her illness, doing frequent live updates on her station Facebook page about her medical treatment. She has been experiencing muscle weakness for the past nine months but doctors were unable to give a diagnosis until this week when she underwent an extensive exam in Houston.
As a breast cancer survivor, Donna knows how important it is to have a strong network of support.
"There's nothing like that kind of cheering section with people spontaneously saying, 'You can do this,'" she said. "And it's good that they understand that I'm going to do it."
Britt began working at WAFB in January of 1981.