My story begins on October 1991 when the glands in my neck started to swell. I thought it was because I had quite a cold and a lot of cough, but I also thought it could be due to a back tooth or a hypocaloric diet or tons of other things. Finally, the cold turned into a bronchitis and I started to take some antibiotics (which I auto-prescribed!).
Finally, I decided to go to the dentist because my gums hurt and I had trouble chewing. The dentist told me that he didn't see any tooth decay and that he didn't see any problem in my gums. He recommended that I should visit my doctor; what's more, he made me promise him that I would go as soon as possible and he talked to me about mononucleosis.
Antonia, two month before being diagnosed acute leukaemia.
Two days later I went to the doctor, which got very angry and told me that I should have visited him earlier for my glands were inflamed since more than a month ago and it could be mononucleosis, leucosis and I don't remember anything else he told me for when I heard leucosis I paralyzed. He ordered some tests and, when I was walking out of the room, I fainted.
My brother and my sister-in-law came, for we were supposed to go to the movies but, because I was running late, they decided to pass by the hospital. My sister-in-law insisted that I had to go to the emergency room for it was too much to have to wait 12 or 14 days for blood test results so we went.
When we got there, she made me sit in a wheelchair and made sure they treated me as soon as possible. They took some tests, asked me tons of questions and palpated me. The analytic showed I was severely anaemic and they told me they should repeat it on Monday, this was on a Friday, and he told me that a doctor would attend me with the results. The doctor explored me and ordered another urgent blood test. When he visited me again he told me he had to biopsy my gland and that I had to come back tomorrow.
My surprise came when he told me that he preferred running another test, which had to me done by a haematologist, a myelogram. I then had a bad feeling. He told me that they would give me some news some days later. That same afternoon they called me to tell me that I had to be admitted in the hospital. I had an alteration in my white cells, he didn't really say what I had but I could imagine it.
On November 20th 1991 I was admitted and, the day after, I started chemotherapy. I didn't enter complete remission with the first cycle, they had to repeat it, and after that I achieved complete remission.
They told me I had AML 5 B, which was the type of leukaemia I had (acute myeloid leukaemia).
Inside the isolation room
I followed the two treatments they ordered, the doctors said that everything was going well for I didn't suffer any big complications; I almost didn't even have small ones.
Before finishing my last cycle, they started testing my siblings for compatibility and my brother turned out to be compatible. They let me rest for three months before the bone marrow transplant.
I was admitted at the Clinic Hospital in Barcelona on July 9th and they did 4 radiotherapy sessions and some chemotherapy. On July 16th the transplant took place.
Inside the isolation room with her brother
The truth is that everything went well; I just ran some fever and a small EICH. I have to say that I felt very nauseous throughout the process but, apart from that, everything went "well", and I never had to be readmitted. After 41 days I left the hospital.
I attended my regular check-ups and in one of the tests they detected I had hepatitis C. For me it was something very 'small' compared to what I had suffered, but as the years passed I started to get worse and 15 years after the transplant I began treatment. Once again I won the battle and entered complete remission.
I would like to tell anyone who finds themselves in this situation or a similar one, that you don't have to give up, for one can beat this, and if you can't you have to ask for help, and have to be optimistic.
I know that the people that were by my side helped me a lot. The support from everyone was very, very big. I felt protected, so much that I was sure I would win the battle.
My honeymoon, 20 months after the transplant
And if you are in this situation you always have to think that you will get out of it, because if you believe in it, it will happen.
THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR EVERYTHING. I don't want to give names for it would be a very long list."
If you want more information about the donation of bone marrow to help people like Antonia (and many other patients) to have the opportunity of a cure, click HERE. Remember that the donation of bone marrow is altruistic, anonymous, and universal. If you register as a bone marrow donor, you could be making a donation to a person from anywhere in the world. If you want more information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on our free phone number (in Spain) 900 32 33 34.
You could also become a member of the José Carreras Foundation. With a little amount you could help us to continue our research.