Giselle R.

Giselle R.

As a musical theater major at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, 19-year-old Giselle spends her days singing, dancing and acting. Watching her perform, you might be surprised to learn that there were times Giselle could hardly catch her breath, let alone belt out a song.

Giselle suffers from severe allergic asthma. For her, exposure to a slice of birthday cake or a friend’s pet is potentially deadly and in her early childhood being sick was routine.

“She’d been hospitalized 40 times by the age of 4,” Giselle’s mother, Sally, recalls.

Both Giselle and her mother credit her longtime allergist, the doctor she has seen since age 2, with giving them the tools to allow Giselle to live a healthy, normal life. Instead of letting allergic asthma hold her back, when Giselle was a child her parents and allergist encouraged her to stay as active as possible. With their support and the right medical care, she participated in soccer, swimming and competitive figure skating.

Giselle manages her disease through a treatment regimen that includes allergy shots and allergic asthma medication, in addition to eating a balanced diet and getting the right amount of sleep.

Today Giselle has her disease under control. “My allergist has had a huge impact on my health and life,” she says. “Ten years ago I never thought I’d be in college and living alone. It’s really a miracle.”