• Joni Ganguzza

New Season, New Treatment

It’s the season of Advent in the Catholic Church. 4 weeks of preparing our hearts and minds for the new birth. A baby born in less than ideal surroundings to a teenage girl who put her full trust in God. “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done according to your will”. Mary said to the angel that told her she would be the Mother of the Son of God. (Below if “Mother of Life” by Nellie Edwards - it hangs in my kitchen and you can buy it here)


Mary’s total submission and trust in God is what I reflect on tonight during this advent season. Unfortunately, I find myself again as a patient at Methodist reflecting on putting all my trust in God.

3.5 weeks ago I felt great and returned to work. Putting my focus on caring for others and having a plan of monthly IVIG infusions, I thought I could put this paraneoplastic encephalitis behind me. Unfortunately, I have had a slow downhill ride the past few weeks. I got a little improvement after the booster dose of IVIG but it wasn’t enough to carry me for 4 more weeks. So each day I worked over Thanksgiving weekend I got worse and worse until Sunday I came to work dizzy, with slow speech, a weak right side and of course my continued double vision so rather than working, I became a patient.

Disappointment and frustrating can be consumers of hope and joy. So today I decide to focus on Mary. If she can deliver a baby as a teenager with no family and no epidural in a manger, I can certainly face whatever is thrown at me.

This time around, in addition to 4 days of IVIG I am also starting a chemotherapy infusion called Rituximab. This is fortunately not the type of chemotherapy that targets rapidly growing cells which would cause hair loss; rather, it will target my B cells and destroy them so my B cells can’t make antibodies. The good news is that it will kill off B cells creating onconeural antibodies against my brain causing this reoccurring encephalitis. The bad news, it kills off the B cells that fight infection like influenza, bacteria, and viruses, which is less than ideal since I work in an ER full of sick people and a house with 9 other people who all bring home germs. So you likely will see me rocking a face mask in public this flu season.

I continue to be inspired by Mary, and if she can put her full trust in God, so will I.

#raisingseven #mommyblogger #momblogger #catholicblogger #catholicmom #womeninmedicine #physicianassistant #advent #christmas #handmaidofthelord #motheroflife

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