AUSTIN, Texas, — When Nayelly Gonzalez, a 25-year-old counselor working with underprivileged children in Los Angeles, was diagnosed this year with a rare and debilitating condition requiring the amputation of her left leg, she turned to the internet for help. This holiday season, her online fundraising request has been fulfilled with a major gift from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP), the largest association of nurse practitioners (NPs), and "The Doctors" television show, which will air her story on Friday, December 20. AANP's contribution provided the remaining funds needed to purchase a fitted prosthetic leg for Nayelly and to help cover the medical expenses resulting from her diagnosis with pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS).
"When 'The Doctors' show approached AANP with Nayelly's story, we knew we wanted to help her secure a prosthetic leg," said Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, President of AANP. "Deciding to go forward with amputation is an extremely brave decision for any patient, and Nayelly's courage and her commitment to her community inspire us. It's our hope that this donation allows Nayelly to get back to the life she loves and the children she serves in her community."
Nayelly first noticed a bump on her left ankle a little over five years ago and initially thought it was related to a sprained ankle. The bump grew larger and more painful over several months. She saw a specialist and was diagnosed with PVNS, a disease found in the body's joints and characterized by inflammation and overgrowth of benign tumors. She was given two treatment options: undergo chemotherapy to target and shrink the tumor or amputation. She opted for chemotherapy and for four months tried to sustain treatment, but the tumor continued to grow. The side effects of the chemotherapy were also severe, causing Nayelly to consider moving forward with amputation. In August of this year, she underwent the procedure and was fitted for a prosthetic leg just weeks ago.
"This has been a long and painful process, but I am glad it's almost over. Thanks to AANP, I can now begin working toward a full recovery and returning to my daily life," said Gonzalez. "I was on disability, had limited access to funds for daily life and was unsure if my GoFundMe page would get any attention — but it did, and I am so thankful for 'The Doctors' hosts and crew, as well as all the amazing NPs out there. It's because of these big hearts that I can now give more of mine back to my community and return to the work that I love. Moments like this restore our faith in one another, and I am glad to have my tough situation serve as an example that even complete strangers can come to your aid and offer a helping hand."
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of the more than 270,000 licensed NPs in the U.S. AANP provides legislative leadership at the local, state and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NPs' patients and other health care consumers. As The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, AANP represents the interests of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered health care. For more information and to locate an NP in your community, visit WeChooseNPs.org.