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Bryan Randall, the longtime partner of actor Sandra Bullock, died over the weekend from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The 57-year-old photographer “passed away peacefully” on Aug. 5 after a private battle with the neurodegenerative disease, his family said in a statement given to NBC News on Aug. 7.

How long did Bryan Randall have ALS?

Randall battled ALS for three years, according to the statement from his family. “Bryan chose early to keep his journey with ALS private and those of us who cared for him did our best to honor his request,” his family said.

“We are immensely grateful to the tireless doctors who navigated the landscape of this illness with us and to the astounding nurses who became our roommates, often sacrificing their own families to be with ours,” the statement read.

In an Instagram tribute to the late photographer, Bullock’s sister Gesine Bullock-Prado wrote, “ALS is a cruel disease but there is some comfort in knowing he had the best of caretakers in my amazing sister and the band of nurses she assembled who helped her look after him in their home.”

When did Bryan Randall get ALS?

Randall was diagnosed with ALS three years ago according to a statement from his family. The statement did not specify exactly when he was diagnosed, but his three-year battle means he was diagnosed in 2020.

In 2022, Bullock noted that she was taking time away from acting to spend more time with her family, including Randall, though she didn’t share any information about his medical condition.

“I take my job very seriously when I’m at work,” the actor, 57, told “Entertainment Tonight” at the time, adding that it is a “24/7” job. “And I just want to be 24/7 with my babies and my family.”

She’d previously spoken about co-parenting with Randall during an episode of “Red Table Talk” in November 2021. “We share two beautiful children — three children, he’s got his older daughter. It’s the best thing ever,” Bullock said.

What is ALS?

ALS is a rare neurodegenerative disease which affects the motor neurons, or the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord which control voluntary muscle movements, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Examples of voluntary movements include walking, talking, chewing, swallowing and moving the hands and arms.

The disease is progressive, meaning it gets worse over time. As the motor neurons degenerate and die, they stop sending messages to the muscles, which start to weaken and atrophy (waste away), per the NIH.

Eventually, the brain will lose its ability control the muscles, making voluntary movements impossible, per the NIH. Over time, ALS patients will also lose the ability to breathe on their own.

ALS does not affect a person’s mental functioning or their ability to see, hear, taste, touch and smell, per John’s Hopkins Medicine.

Is ALS fatal?

Yes, ALS is a fatal disease of the motor neurons. There is no known cure or effective treatment to stop or reverse the progression of ALS, according to the NIH. However, there are ALS treatments including medications and supportive care which can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Most people with ALS end up dying from respiratory failure, typically within three to five years after symptoms first appear, per the NIH. However, about 10% of ALS patients will survive for a decade or longer.

What are usually the first signs of ALS?

ALS often starts in the hands, feet, arms or legs. Then it spreads to other parts of the body, per the Mayo Clinic. It is generally not painful in the early stages.

According to the NIH, early symptoms of ALS may include:

  • Muscle weakness affecting an arm, leg or the diaphragm
  • Twitching of the muscles in the arms, legs, shoulders or tongue
  • Cramping of the muscles in the hands, feet or limbs
  • Tight or stiff muscles
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing food

Over time, ALS will affect a person’s ability to do daily activities, and they will no longer be able to walk, speak or eat on their own.

The disease can affect people of all ages, but symptoms most often develop in people between the ages of 55 and 75, per the NIH. The exact cause is unknown, but genetics are thought to play a role in some cases.

There is ongoing research into the possible causes of ALS and potential treatments to reverse progression of the disease.