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Inside Sandra Bullock's inner circle of support: How A-list friends including Jennifer Aniston, Octavia Spence
2023/08/09

had the unwavering support of her closest friends within the acting community as long-term partner Bryan Randall fought a secret three-year battle with motor neurone disease.

, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease, behind closed doors - with Bullock serving as his primary carer. 

The Hollywood star has since been praised for the 'amazing' way she nursed the photographer, whose death was confirmed in statement to  magazine on Monday. 

Taking to Instagram, : 'I'm convinced that Bry has found the best fishing spot in heaven and is already casting his lure into rushing rivers teaming with salmon.

'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.' 

Tragic: Sandra Bullock's long-term partner Bryan Randall died aged 57 on August 5 after a secret three year battle with motor neurone disease

Close: Bullock has maintained a close friendship with Jennifer Aniston, who recently shared numerous tributes to the actress as she celebrated her 59th birthday in July

Over recent months the actress has also been supported by a raft of celebrity friends, among them Jennifer Aniston, Octavia Spencer, Ryan Reynolds and Demi Moore. 

On July 26 - less than a month before Randall's death - former Friends star Aniston led a chorus of Hollywood A-listers in wishing Bullock a 'Happy Birthday' as she turned 59. 

Aniston, 54, shared three photos and a video that expressed her love for the Hollywood legend, among them a shot of Bullock giving a thumbs up as she drinks coffee from a promotional mug for Apple TV+ series The Morning Show. 

Captioning the post, she wrote: 'Happy Birthday Sand-a-La!!'

Later in the day, Aniston shared footage from a baking session with Bullock and their friend Sean Hayes - best known for his role as the acerbic Jack McFarland in Will & Grace. 

The actress also shared a selfie of herself with Bullock, former Friends co-star Courteney Cox, and three unidentified female friends during a night out at a restaurant.

'WE LOVE YOU!!!' Aniston exclaimed.

Tribute: Less than a month before Randall's death, former Friends star Aniston led a chorus of Hollywood A-listers in wishing Bullock a 'Happy Birthday' 

Group love: The actress also shared a selfie of herself with Bullock, former Friends co-star Courteney Cox, and two unidentified female friends during a night out at a restaurant

Although Bullock and Aniston have yet to work together, the two have been friends for years, and grew closer over the last decade.

Besides Aniston, Ryan Reynolds and Octavia Spencer were also among the stars who wished Bullock a 'Happy birthday' on social media.

Reynolds, who starred with Bullock in the 2009 romantic comedy The Proposal, shared on his Instagram a clip of their chaotic nude scene from the film.

'Happy Birthday to the inimitable and stunning Sandra Bullock! For your birthday this year, I got us both intimacy coordinators. And an HR department. And clothing?,' Reynolds joked in his caption.

Meanwhile, Spencer posted two photos on her Instagram account of herself and Bullock, in which she gushed about the Blind Side star's 'aura, kindness, and joy.'

Friends: Actress Octavia Spencer (right) was also among the well-known names who wished Bullock a 'Happy birthday' on social media

Oscar Sunday: Spencer shared a photo of the pair at the 84th Academy Awards ceremony in 2012, during which Spencer won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress

One of the photos was of the two Oscar winners at the 84th Academy Awards ceremony in 2012, where Spencer won her first (and so far only) Academy Award for her supporting role in the 2011 film The Help.

Bullock and Spencer have maintained a close friendship since they worked together on the 1996 film A Time To Kill, which was marked Spencer's film debut.

In March Bullock was joined by fellow actress Demi Moore for her first red carpet appearance since attending the launch of her film   in March 2022. 

The two friends were in attendance at the star-studded pre-Oscar CAA bash at the Sunset Tower hotel in West Hollywood, where they were joined by CAA agent Kevin Huvane - who represents Jennifer Lopez.

Pretty ladies: In March Bullock was joined by fellow actress Demi Moore for her first red carpet appearance since attending the launch of her film The Lost City in March 2022 

Pals: The actress is also close to music producer David Foster and American chat show host Jimmy Kimmel (both are pictured at her 55th birthday party in 2019)

In attendance: David Foster's actress wife Katharine McPhee was also in attendance at the Hollywood event 

The actress is also close to American chat show host Jimmy Kimmel, music producer David Foster and his actress wife Katherine McPhee. 

All three attended Bullock's star-studded 55th birthday celebration in 2019 at the exclusive $4,200 a year, members-only clubhouse - San Vicente Bungalows - in Hollywood. 

The event took place months before COVID-19 sent the world spiraling though two-years of enforced lockdown and would be one of Bullock's last public appearances with Randall.

The Hollywood actress first met Randall - a model-turned-photographer - in 2015, after he photographed her son Louis's birthday. It came five years after her messy divorce from TV personality Jesse James. 

During their last public sighting together, in July, 2020, the former model was pictured gazing adoringly at his love as they arrived to an intimate gathering in Studio City with her two children.

Old times: The event took place months before COVID-19 sent the world spiraling though two-years of lockdown and would be one of Bullock's last public appearances with Randall (pictured at the event)

Last family outing: Bullock and Randall were last seen out together in Studio City in July, 2020 along with her two adopted children Louis, 13, and Laila, 11 

Heartbreaking: The photographer, seen beaming here three years ago, wanted to keep his journey with ALS private, his family shared on Monday 

'It is with great sadness that we share that on Aug. 5, Bryan Randall passed away peacefully after a three-year battle with ALS,' his family shared to PEOPLE on Monday.

'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.'

'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 family statement continued.

'At this time we ask for privacy to grieve and to come to terms with the impossibility of saying goodbye to Bryan.' The statement was signed off by 'His Loving Family.'

There is no cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - ALS - and the disease is fatal, but it progresses at different speeds in patients.

People with ALS are expected to live two to five years after the symptoms first manifest, although 10 percent of sufferers live at least 10 years. It is also known in some countries as motor-neurone disease.

The disease is also referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease after the US baseball player, who was diagnosed in 1939 at just 36 years of age.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Details of fatal disease there is no cure for

What is it? 

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurogenerative disorder which impacts the nerve cells in the spinal cord and the brain, according to the . It gets progressively worse and causes significant muscle control loss in people who have it. 

Treatment 

There is no cure for ALS and the disease is fatal, but it progresses at different speeds in patients. 

Symptoms

The first signs of ALS are twitching of the muscles, weaknesses of the limbs and problems with swallowing and speaking. Progressively, it deteriorates muscle control and impacts an individual's ability to breathe, move, speak and eat.

ALS symptoms correspond with where nerve cells deteriorate in each person, and could lead to issues walking, tripping, and weakness of the knees, ankles and hands.

It can also lead to problems with muscle cramps and twitching in areas including one's tongue, arms and shoulders. People with ALS have experienced untimely spells of laughter, tears and yawns, as well as changes to one's thinking process or behavior, according to the clinic.

Risk factors 

Among the risk factors researchers have established for ALS include genetics, as about 10 percent of people diagnosed with it were passed down a gene from a relative, which is called hereditary ALS, according to the clinic. Kids of people who have hereditary ALS have a 50 percent chance of having the gene.

Age is also a factor as the risk of getting the disease trends up toward the age of 75, with the most common range of people who have it between 60 and 85. In terms of gender, men are diagnosed with a higher rate of ALS prior to the age of 65, according to the clinic.

Other factors that have been linked to ALS include smoking and exposure to toxic substances. The clinic reported that military personnel have been diagnosed with ALS at a higher rate.

Causes

There is no known cause of ALS, according to the Mayo Clinic, and heredity plays a factor in a small number of cases. 

Lou Gehrig was one of baseball's preeminent stars while playing for the Yankees between 1923 and 1939. Known as 'The Iron Horse,' he played in 2,130 consecutive games before ALS forced him to retire. The record was broken by Cal Ripken Jr. in 1995 

Lou Gehrig's Disease

As well as being known as ALS, it is frequently referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Lou Gehrig was a stalwart first baseman for the New York Yankees between 1923 and 1939. He was famous for his strength and durability, earning the nickname 'The Iron Horse' with a record-setting streak of 2,130 consecutive games.

In a July 4, 1939 speech on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium, the ballplayer famously said, 'For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.'

His popularity and fame transcended the sport of baseball. He died two years after his diagnosis on June 2, 1941.

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