A Time for Celebration

Micaela Aguiar was home enjoying a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend with her family when, suddenly, her entire body went completely haywire. Fever, muscle aches, inflammation and uncontrollable itching overcame her. At first, she thought it was some kind of allergic reaction, but her condition became increasingly unbearable.

Micaela contacted her fiancé, Joel, and described her symptoms. It was a holiday, so their doctor’s office was closed. The only other option was their local hospital in Mississauga, so off they went.

After an initial misdiagnosis, doctors proceeded to run a number of tests to determine the source of her discomfort. It was a mystery. And it marked the beginning of an extensive health-care journey punctuated by a series of visits with specialists whose results consistently came up inconclusive.

Her symptoms persisted, often fluctuating dramatically from one day to the next. Micaela and Joel found themselves pinned between the glass panes of revolving doors—hopping from one doctor’s office to the next over a two-year stretch. At the end, they were no closer to a diagnosis or treatment plan. Micaela was physically and mentally exhausted from always feeling sick. She and Joel somehow managed to hold things together at home while keeping pace with the daily demands.

Then, one day Micaela reached out to her best friend who listened as Micaela detailed her struggles to cope with an undiagnosed health concern and her fears of unexpectedly leaving her family behind. That’s when her friend informed her of an article she read about an allergist and immunologist at St. Michael’s Hospital who specializes in treating one of her symptoms, known as Angioedema. She said if anybody could help her, it was him. Finally, a glimmer of hope!

We’ve decided to ask our guests to make a donation to St. Michael’s Foundation in lieu of gifts as a way to show our appreciation. — Micaela Aguiar

Micaela asked her family doctor for a referral, and less than a month later she met Dr. Stephen Betschel. That’s when he started to work his magic, as she puts it. Dr. Betschel assembled a first-rate team of experts that included Dr. Martina Trinkaus, a hematologist and Dr. Jeff Mosko, a gastroenterologist, who performed a series of comprehensive tests.

After a long, two-year struggle, Micaela was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, which is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body.

“We are a multidisciplinary team of physicians and researchers who care for patients facing a range of immunity issues,” said Dr. Betschel. “One of the most common shared experiences among those living with immune diseases is how long it takes to get a diagnosis and proper treatment. We are going to be following Micaela for the rest of her life. If things change and she needs something, we’ll see she gets it.”

“St. Michael’s reaffirmed my faith. They listened and would not rest until I was on a good, stable path. And what’s more, I now know what it means to be taken care of. I can’t wait to see Joel standing by my side on our wedding day and watching our three beautiful children, Isaac, Eva and Gabriel, walk down that aisle. We survived together. Now it’s time to celebrate together as a family. Please know how very grateful and appreciative we all are, for everything that St. Michael’s has done for us. We’ve decided to ask our guests to make a donation to St. Michael’s Foundation in lieu of gifts as a way to show our appreciation. We feel the finest gift is one which helps others live longer and healthier lives."

To donate to Micaela and Joel's campaign for St. Michael's, visit Micaela's fundraising page or call the Foundation at 416.864.5000.

Planning a wedding or celebration? If you would like to request donations to St. Michael’s Foundation in lieu of gifts, please contact Cynthia Collantes, Director, Gift Planning, at CollantesC@smh.ca or 416.864.5879.