In a deeply moving and candid revelation, Broadway luminary Aaron Lazar, known for his remarkable performances in iconic musicals like "The Light in the Piazza," "Dear Evan Hansen," "Les Misérables," "A Little Night Music," and "The Last Ship," has opened up about living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease.
Diagnosed two years ago, Lazar, 47, has chosen to navigate this challenging journey not with resistance, but with a focus on healing and embracing life's moments with courage and positivity. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle control loss that often starts with spasms and weakness in limbs and progresses to affect movement, speech, swallowing, and breathing.
Despite the grim prognosis of a three to five-year life expectancy post-diagnosis and the absence of a cure, Lazar maintains an unwaveringly optimistic outlook.
Lazar's Healing Journey
During his recent interview on The Broadway Show, Lazar shared insights into his personal "healing journey," emphasizing holistic care of mind, body, and spirit.
He recounted the evolution of his perspective, from initially aspiring to "beat" the illness to realizing the importance of facing it with ease, joy, and healing. "It's not a fight," Lazar asserted, reframing his impossible dream to one of comprehensive self-healing.
Lazar's strength is particularly poignant given the brutal nature of ALS, which affects 90% of patients without any known genetic cause or history. The disease is slightly more prevalent in men, with a rising incidence rate as age increases.
While there is no definitive treatment, the FDA-approved Relyvrio has shown promise in slowing the disease's progression, though its overall effectiveness remains under discussion. Lazar first shared his diagnosis in January on the "Carefully Taught: Teaching Musical Theatre with Matty and Kikau" podcast, calling ALS "a divine opportunity disguised as an impossible situation." His openness has garnered immense support from the Broadway community, including accolades like the Essey Spotlight Award from the Golden West Chapter of the ALS Association for his global ALS awareness efforts.