Prayers and community support strengthen daughter Norwin in her health battles
When North Huntingdon’s Mia Gill underwent surgery in mid-August to remove a benign brain tumor, it was hoped it would end months of debilitating health problems. But she ended up with migraines, tremors, dizziness and problems with sensitivity to light that baffled doctors looking for a cure.
Throughout this time, Gill, the 18-year-old daughter of Kevin and Trina Gill, received overwhelming support from family, friends, their church and the community. Mia, who graduated from Norwin in 2021, had to postpone attending Grove City College and playing lacrosse until the next school year.
âThe people have been wonderful,â said Trina Gill. âWe couldn’t have done it without everyone’s prayers. “
Mia’s Miracle Facebook Blog was created by Angela Mazur, English teacher at Norwin High School and sister-in-law of Trina, with the goal of amassing as many Prayer Warriors as possible.
âWe wouldn’t function today without everyone’s prayers and acts of selflessness,â said Trina Gill.
Mgr. Paul V. Paul Fitzmaurice and St. Agnes Roman Catholic Parish in North Huntingdon hosted a community prayer vigil and led rosaries and other group prayer sessions on Mia’s behalf.
Reverend John Moineau, priest of Immaculate Conception Parish in Irwin, struggles with his own cancer diagnosis. He dedicated his chemotherapy sessions and morning masses to Mia, Gill said.
Friends and strangers prepared meals to allow parents to spend more time with Mia, her four siblings – Lauren, 20; Kyle, 17; Eva, 15 years old; and Claire, 12 years old. Some have even volunteered to spend the night in the hospital with Mia to give her parents a rest at home, Gill said.
The Norwin Lacrosse Club, of which Trina had been president and Mia played, offered gift cards to local restaurants.
A local family friend took in their youngest child to make sure she had a stable and stress-free first week of school, said Gill. Mia’s three best friends have spent time with Mia as well as countless hours of prayer and mobilizing their college campuses to pray.
Another friend has created “Mia’s Miracle” bracelets, which will soon be distributed to local businesses and schools, said Gill.
The family will also benefit from the Norwin High School Women’s Volleyball Team’s Pink Out fundraising game against Hempfield Area, scheduled for Thursday at Norwin High School. The junior varsity match starts at 6:00 p.m. The varsity match plays at 7:00 p.m.
Mia said she has also received tremendous support from the Grove City women’s lacrosse coach and her future teammates. They held prayer vigils, and college staff and other sports teams sent out cards.
Their Lincoln Hills community designed signage with the help of Mia’s former high school lacrosse coach Mandy Pane, Gill said. The signs, asking for prayers, can be seen throughout Mia’s neighborhood and beyond.
âEveryone’s support has really helped me stay positive and faithful,â said Mia, who will donate the proceeds from the bracelets and garden signs to her local youth ministry group and the organization at non-profit “Hitting For Hope”, started by one of his best friends, Ryan Scavnicky.
Signs of health problems
Looking back, the Gills now recognize the telltale signs that something was wrong with Mia this spring.
During her senior lacrosse season, Mia was unbalanced, suffered injuries and fell on the court. She said her vision was blurry, she had a lot of headaches, and she couldn’t sleep. The symptoms were rationalized as being the result of online schooling, the sight on his computer screen, the awkwardness and stress of the past year.
A few days after graduating on May 28, Mia’s demeanor began to change dramatically. She was working at the State Farm insurance office in Irwin and taking online summer school at Grove City College when she began to pass out and couldn’t focus on her duties.
âI was an A level student with honors. I knew something was seriously wrong, âMia said.
A series of medical tests and examinations failed to uncover the source of his health problems. The doctors were baffled.
âEveryone has indicated that my insomnia is the cause,â Mia said. “I couldn’t sleep for months.”
At Mia’s insistence, doctors finally ordered a CT scan in early August. He revealed a large tumor – a rare choroid plexus papilloma – filling part of the back of the brain.
The National Institutes of Health claim that the ventricles in this region of the brain produce fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Fewer than 200 people are diagnosed with this tumor each year, the majority being young children, said Gill. Based on the calcification of the cells, the rare tumor had been growing for a few years, Mia said.
âMia’s case is very unique,â ââsaid Gill, who has conducted extensive research into the disease to find doctors, hospitals and specialists across the country.
Doctors were hopeful that Mia would recover quickly from her August 18 operation due to her health and youthfulness. Instead, she started to descend lower after she got home. She began to suffer from neurological symptoms which sent her back to the hospital. She continues to struggle with daily headaches and migraines, dizziness, tremors, dysfunctional heartbeat, confusion, sleeplessness, tingling in the limbs, sensitivity to light and eye movements. .
Even the simple task of writing a letter or looking at your phone is almost impossible.
âThe hypothesis is that the removal of the tumor triggered something in the brain,â said Gill.
For exercise, Gill said they try to take a walk in Indian Lake Park in North Huntingdon, but it’s often a struggle, especially if the weather is nice, which bothers Mia’s eyes.
Mia and her parents went to the Cleveland Clinic last week for an appointment with an autoimmune neurologist. Mia has been accepted as a patient at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, where she will be seen by the head of the neurology department in November. She is also awaiting appointments at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Gill said.
Mia is expected to have more tests for possible autoimmune neurological problems, but they must wait until treatments with intravenous immunoglobulin – antibodies taken from donated blood – no longer impact her system, a his mother said.
Strong faith in god
Through all the struggles, Mia remains steadfast in her faith. She can study theology or biology in Grove City.
âI witnessed and felt the miracles that resulted from the power of prayer,â Mia said.
Her favorite Bible verse is from 2 Corinthians 12: 9. âMy grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness,â Mia recited, saying that it glorifies God in your weakness.
âEven when you are in pain, there is something to be happy about,â she said.
Those who want to follow Mia’s prayer warriors and follow her recovery can head to the @MiasMiracleNetwork Facebook blog.