Mary Vicencia knows what it’s like to be sick as a dog. For a while, she was basically an expert in feeling downright bad.
In fact, she’s a lot like the 250,000 other people in the United States who suffer from prolonged sickness. Mary has common variable immunodeficiency disease (CVID), a debilitating and frustrating type of primary immunodeficiency (PI).
The disease means Mary has very low levels of immunoglobulin, which is a part of blood plasma that’s needed to prevent or keep infections at bay. Unfortunately, Mary went 20 years without a diagnosis. It’s not uncommon for doctors to treat PI symptoms as allergies instead of infections.
Many PI patients (roughly 80%) go years being mis- or undiagnosed; on average, it takes them 12 years to receive an accurate diagnosis.
After years and years of miserable, endless infections (like bronchitis and sinusitis), Mary longed for a CVID treatment that might make her feel better. Thankfully, several years after developing symptoms, she finally got the chance.
Mary takes HyQvia, an immunoglobulin replacement that she began in October 2014. The treatment offers “temporary protection” for the immune system, keeping her healthy more often than not. Before she began taking HyQvia, Mary would get sick for a month at time, roughly five times a year.
Now, she’s only enduring infections a couple or three times a year. And even better? Her recovery time has been cut in half.
Today, Mary feels empowered. She has been asked to be a HyQvia Ambassador and spends a lot of her time encouraging patients and bringing awareness to primary immunodeficiency diseases.
“I’m trying to pay it forward and give back,” Mary said.