Teen who lost father to ALS searching for ICU nurse who made an impact on her

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – A Providence woman is searching for an ICU nurse whose words helped her through one of the most difficult times in her life.

Angelina Antonizio lost her father, John, to Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) six years ago.

“He was diagnosed when I was seven, and it was a very, very quick decline,” said Antonizio, who’s now 19. “He started losing control over his movements and emotions, and he was having a hard time walking and picking things up. And then it quickly progressed to where he was paralyzed and could no longer talk or breathe on his own.”

Her dad passed away on August 10, 2015 at the age of 56 at the VA Medical Center in Providence. Antonizio was just 13.

Shortly after her father died, she said a nurse in the ICU took her aside and said something to her that she’s held onto for the last six years.

“She said something along the lines of, even though this happened, you have to keep living, even though your heart is heavy. I don’t think she realized the weight that those words had, and I would love to honestly find her and just talk to her now and see where she is.

“She basically just took me into another room and said that to me and it stuck with me for so long. I never caught her name, just cause it was so quick, but she did have dark hair, I know that, she might have had glasses and she was about my height at the time,” Antonizio said.

The nurse also lost a parent at a young age, she said.

“I remember that she told me her mom passed away when she was young and she had a hard time living without her. That was the reason she took me aside was so that I didn’t fall into that same place that she was. She made it through this, she’s a nurse now, and I was like, so I can get through this.”

In the wake of her father’s death, Antonizio has struggled with anxiety and depression.

“At my lower points there were a couple times where I contemplated even taking my own life, and there were times where I would just look back onto what she said and I would write about it in my journal actually and it would kind of just get me through those points.”

She posted the story to a Facebook community group, hoping word will spread to the nurse so that she can thank her.

“I was like, somebody has to know some kind of connection so I decided to try and find her, just because what she said was so impactful for me. I just would like for her to know that I still kind of hold onto it six years later.”

The post has received hundreds of likes and shares.

“I feel like a lot of times people don’t understand the weight of their words, they don’t understand when they say something either bad or good people will hold onto it for a very long time. So even six years later, I still think about what you said, I still think about you as a person,” Antonizio said, addressing the nurse. “It definitely helped me through some of the worst parts of my life.”

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Categories: News, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island