Affiliated Organizations
  HN Medical Partners   School of Nursing   HNH Fitness   Villa Marie Claire   Simulation Learning   Haiti Health Promise
Medical Partners Offices
Cardiovascular Specialists University Orthopaedic Pulmonary Specialists Obstetrics & Gynecology North Jersey Heart North Jersey Surgical Surgical Specialistss Primary Care Specialty Assoc. Urologic Specialties Women's Health Care

Catherine Gural

Surpassing All Her Dreams

Holy Name MS Center - Catherine Gural

Catherine Gural is raising three children with her husband, has a challenging career in wealth management, volunteers her time doing advocacy work, and oh yea, she's the deputy mayor of her town. A far cry from the horrific storyline her physician projected for her life two decades ago.

At that time, Catherine had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis after her foot went numb in the shower and felt like it had fallen asleep, though she couldn't wake it. Over the course of 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 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 forthcoming, albeit gloomy, painting a bleak picture of life filled with physical and mental restrictions. With each visit, Catherine heard increasingly disheartening news. Finally, when the doctor saw Catherine pushing her son in a stroller and said she hoped Catherine wasn't planning to have more children due to the disease, Catherine knew she needed another doctor.

When she only had limited success with another neurologist using various medications, she knew she needed a specialist. That's when she found Dr. Mary Ann Picone, Medical Director of the MS 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, they're always wonderful. The staff is very sensitive to all the patients, whether you're needle phobic or whatever concerns you have. It's worth driving from Princeton for this type of care."

Today, Catherine, 42, is living a life that not only makes her initial neurologist's words seem foolish but has far surpassed even her own hopes and dreams. In addition to marrying and having two more children, she transformed the knowledge she gleaned from having MS to help shape her volunteer work, relaunching an employee advocacy network. She earned her bachelor's degree this year and is the deputy mayor of Montgomery Township – the only elected official she believes to have MS in New Jersey.

"I can't say how important it is to have a good doctor when you have a disease like MS," Catherine said. "Dr. Picone knows me, the whole staff knows me and they're so supportive. My philosophy is 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."

Learn more about MS Center at Holy Name