Ottawa Tavern event to help UT student with lupusWritten by Joel Sensenig | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mia Gonzalez has a lot on her plate.
The 27-year-old is a second-year law student at the University of Toledo. She is just finishing a round of chemotherapy. She is tired more often than not. She gets hot flashes frequently because of the temporary menopause she’s going through.
She has lupus.
Sick for months before being diagnosed with the systemic lupus erythematosus form of lupus, Gonzalez has been undergoing a number of medical treatments and processes which are taking a financial toll on the student, whose law school schedule does not allow for a full-time job.
The Ottawa Tavern is hosting “Lupusoid,” a night of entertainment Nov. 6 to help Gonzalez with her medical expenses. Beginning at 6 p.m., the Downtown bar is featuring a full night of fundraising activity, including food, music, a silent auction and dancing. A portion of the night’s proceeds will also go to the Lupus Foundation of America.
Gonzalez said balancing her life has been a whirlwind since she discovered her kidneys were failing and was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease this summer.
“I went from being a healthy person to a person taking 13 pills a day,” Gonzalez said in a phone interview between a law school training session and a medical appointment. “I now know what makes me so tired every day. I’m still learning how to deal with it. With lupus, you look fine. But when they do blood and urine tests, I’m not fine. I’m not OK, you know? When I’m really tired, I need to rest or I could get bronchitis.”
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body, including the skin, joints and organs. As the immune system fails, the body’s ability to fight viruses, bacteria and germs is thrown off. With lupus, the body can no longer identify foreign invaders and healthy tissues and creates antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue, causing inflammation, pain and damage to various parts of the body. The disease is most prevalent in women of childbearing age, and affects up to 2 million people in the U.S., with 16,000 new cases reported annually in the country.
Gonzalez said she wants to educate others about lupus, and has taken to writing a blog titled “The Legal Lupusoid” to document the treatment process, and how she is responding to her new life as a young woman living with lupus. She admits to going from feeling pessimistic about the turn her life has taken to being hopeful about better days in the not-so-distant future.
“I wrote earlier about my luck running out, (and) I am feeling that time might be soon,” she wrote in an October entry. “I had to drop my internship due to feeling so behind. I am not sure how I am going to live my life around feeling so brain dead at times, but I will learn, and you will all be the first to know how I figure it all out!”
In the meantime, Gonzalez is faced with the very real prospects of handling the financial ramifications of the disease. In addition to diagnosis expenses, she recently had to receive three shots to protect her ovaries during the chemotherapy sessions, at a cost of $2,000 apiece. Insurance is not covering the cost.
The fundraiser will help Gonzalez to focus her energy on her school life, she said. She’s worried that any bad credit developed from being unable to pay her mounting bills will prevent her from being able to take and pass the bar exam in the future.
“It will allow me to not have bill collectors calling me, and give me an opportunity to educate others about lupus,” she said.
To help her own cause, Gonzalez is going to be pitching in at the fundraiser during the “Raising the bar” portion of the evening, in which she and friends will be bartending and collecting the tips. This portion of the event will run from 6 to 9 p.m.
Music during this portion of the event will be performed by Marcio Zip and Tyler, Rachel Richardson, Sarah Cohen and Ruben Zukowski. Later bands will include 33 1/3, the Faux Paus, The Forest, Analog Graveyard and a Cake cover band called Frosting.
Despite the potentially life-threatening status of lupus, Gonzalez is intent on staying positive.
“My head is spinning and the world keeps on a-moving. I think this is the hardest to grapple with,” she wrote in her blog. “There are some days I feel odd and need to sit down, but of course, time, people, places keep happening. I am dreaming that one day this will be a faint memory and I will be laughing around the table with friends over wine and dinner.”
The Ottawa Tavern is located at 1817 Adams St. Gonzalez’s blog can be found at mia-thelegallupusoid.blogspot.com/