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A Beam of Hope for the Gonzales Family

Beam Signing

A Beam of Hope for the Gonzales Family

When it feels like the sky is falling and the earth is swallowing you up, it’s the gratitude that gets you through. It’s being able to say, “We have a lot to be thankful for” during those dark times of uncertainty and distress. John Muir Health is one of the blessings my husband and I are extremely grateful for.

Your support of John Muir Health is another!

Through the penning of this letter, I want to express my gratitude for you and your continued, generous contributions to the people, programs, and services of John Muir Health.

My name is Girlynda Gonzales. I am the Vice President of Inpatient Care Services at John Muir Health and have been a nurse here for over 28 years. My husband, Ed,
enjoys his work in commercial real estate and we have two beautiful daughters, Alexis and Isabella.

We never saw this coming… 

It was a typical Saturday morning for Ed and me. We had planned a day of relaxing landscaping. We had just arrived at Home Depot when he suddenly became disoriented and had trouble walking. Ed had to use the flatbed cart I had secured for our shopping trip to sit and gather his strength. When he looked up at me and said, “Something’s not right,” we quickly headed straight to John Muir Health’s Emergency Department.

I was trembling with fear but thankful that I was driving on auto-pilot—to my workplace, my second home—and grateful that my brilliant colleagues would be there to greet us and to provide comfort and care.

An MRI was immediately performed. When the neurosurgeon walked into our room not long after, I remember thinking to myself, ‘He must be in the wrong room—why would Ed need a neurosurgeon?’

At that very moment, it was as if the earth had stopped.

We learned that Ed had a cancerous brain tumor that would need to be removed immediately. How could this be? My incredibly healthy 50-year-old husband, whose daughters affectionately refer to as “Irondad,” was diagnosed with Diffuse Midline Glioma, a rare form of Glioblastoma.

In my wildest dreams, I never imagined we were going to hear news that Ed’s condition was something terminal.

Ed’s surgery was successful and John Muir Health Neurosurgeon, Terence Chen, MD, retrieved ninety percent of the precariously located tumor. We will forever be indebted to Dr. Chen and his incredible team of caring and compassionate clinicians whom we unequivocally trusted.

We traveled to and from UCSF over the next 6 weeks to receive Ed’s 5 days per week, fifteen-minute radiation treatments. We left the house each morning at 8:30am and arrived back home by 11:30am…when Ed would then head to work.

No matter how you slice it, the trek to San Francisco was taxing on Ed. By Friday, he was run-down and fatigued. The care he received was absolutely top-notch, but receiving treatment closer to home, near family, friends, and work would have provided a tremendous amount of relief and respite for us.

For all these reasons and countless others, we are thrilled that John Muir Health has partnered with UCSF to build a world-class, state-of-the-art Cancer Pavilion right here in Walnut Creek!

We are new members of the cancer community, so for my family and for all members of this tight knit community, this new Cancer Center has profound meaning for me. Ed and I are committed to doing everything we can to make the experience for cancer patients and their families in the East Bay exceptional. Our vision is that patients feel deeply cared for, receive personalized treatments and feel heard and seen. We hope to facilitate seamless care that will provide patients and families with much needed comfort and reassurance.

Recently, Ed and I were privileged to attend the Cancer Pavilion’s Topping Out ceremony. We watched in awe as the final beam, which we had both signed, was raised into position atop the three-story, 155,000-square-foot building -- a beam of hope, light, and gratitude.

We have our sights set on walking through the front doors together hand-in-hand when it opens in February 2024!

Today, I hope you will join my family in amplifying the impact the new John Muir Health Cancer Pavilion will have on East Bay cancer patients, like our Irondad, Ed.
John Muir Health was built by the community we so proudly serve. Join us in building what will become the premier Cancer Center in Contra Costa County.

Ed, Alexis, Isabella and I are deeply grateful for you.

Girlynda Gonzales

P.S. Gratitude inspires hope and healing. Please consider giving the gift of health, life, and hope to cancer patients in Contra Costa County.