Dress The Heroes

51 SURPASSING ALL HER DREAMS Catherine Gural C atherine Gural is raising three children with her husband, has a challenging career in wealth management, volunteers her time doing advocacy work, and is the dep- uty mayor of her town, Montgomery Township. A far cry from the horrific storyline her physician project- ed for her life two decades ago. At that time, Catherine had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis after her foot went numb and felt like it had fallen asleep, though she couldn’t wake it. During the next several weeks, the tingling and numbness travelled up her leg until it reached her abdomen. A trip to a hospital emergency room near her home in the Princeton area led to her diagnosis. “It was horrible – the doctor in the ER didn’t tell me what was wrong until I called him several days later, after my arm suddenly went numb and I almost dropped my infant son,” Catherine said. “I was 24 years old and didn’t know if I was going to die. I knew nothing about MS and was worried who would take care of my son. The doctor didn’t explain anything.” The neurologist Catherine found was more forthcom- ing, albeit gloomy, painting a bleak picture of life filled with physical and mental restrictions. With each visit, Catherine heard increasingly disheartening news until finally, the doc- tor said she hoped Catherine wasn’t planning to have more children due to the disease. Catherine knew she needed an- other doctor. Then she found Dr. Mary Ann Picone, Medical Director of The Alfiero & Lucia Palestroni Foundation Multiple Sclerosis Center at Holy Name. “I fell in love with her and the Center,” Catherine said. “It was so nice to be in a place where this was their entire focus. The whole staff is really tuned in to what I need. And they are constantly doing research, which gives us patients access to therapies we might not get somewhere else.” Catherine enrolled in a clinical trial at Holy Name in 2009, which enabled her to use Lemtrada. She received this 2-time infusion therapy that year and in 2010, and hasn’t had a flare-up since. “Everyone at Holy Name is so great – when I had the infusions they did everything to make me feel comfortable,” Catherine said. “Even when I go back for MRIs, the staff is very sensitive to all the patients, whether you’re needle pho- bic or whatever concerns you have. It’s worth driving from Princeton for this type of care.” Today, Catherine, 43, is living a life that far surpassed anything she could have imagined. In addition to raising her family, her job and volunteer activities, she earned her bachelor’s degree recently. “I can’t say how important it is to have a good doctor when you have a disease like MS,” Catherine said. “Dr. Picone and the whole staff know me, and they’re so sup- portive. If I can do something, I’m going to do it until I can’t anymore. My body will tell me when it’s time to stop. Until then, I’m going to keep doing all I can.” MS PATIENT STORY