MY PLAN: GOING ON HOLIDAY WITH MY WIFE
At the rate we are developing knowledge about Leukaemia, it will one day be, a curable disease in 100% of cases.
For this reason the José Carreras Foundation in Spain offers national and international scientific research grants to young doctors and biologists.
All our headquarters also support innovative research projects carried out by university clinics and scientific institutions. For example the José Carreras Foundation in Germany finances a collaborative project between PETHEMA and GMALL (German Multicenter Trials). This project is led by Dr Josep Mª Ribera, Head of the Haematology Unit of the Catalan Institute of Oncology at Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital (Badalona), and by Dr Hoelzer, Head of Haematology at Frankfurt University Clinic. The project focuses on optimizing therapies against acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the most common amongst children. This joint project is being carried out in over 40 Spanish hospitals and in over a hundred in Germany.
Scientific research allows us to help cure increasing amounts of people and with fewer complications. All patients have their own dreams, plans and hopes, and the Carreras Foundation wants to be a partner of these plans while pursuing its own: to continue investing in scientific research so that all leukaemia patients have a chance.
Just like everyone else, Erich, a 52-year-old German patient had his own dream: a great trip with his wife. Leukaemia interfered but finally he made it.
Erich (right) with his brother Joseph
"A letter pinned up in the corridor of the clinic. That's what encouraged me most," says Erich. "It was a postcard telling the story of a patient who had also been at the transplant unit in Ulm (Germany) nine years earlier. He had leukaemia, like me, and received a transplant. Six months later he was taken off medication and a year later he obtained his pilot's licence."
Erich is 52, he's been married for 22 years and is father to two young adult children. Shortly before leaving on his family holiday last summer, Erich started feeling incredibly tired. His family had never seen him like that and his GP sent him to see a specialist immediately. When Erich and his family were given his diagnosis their world fell apart: "He has an acute leukaemia. Stay at home this weekend and on Monday go straight to the clinic."
Nowadays he is unable to fully explain that weekend. He can't even remember it. The doctors made a decision quickly: chemotherapy would not be enough and Erich would need a transplant. Luckily his brother Josef was compatible which was great news because 3 out of every 4 patients needing a bone marrow transplant do not have a compatible donor within their family. Most patients have to resort to a search among international donor registries.
"The transplant itself is nothing spectacular; it's just a transfusion of a bag of stem cells. However, shortly afterwards I started feeling sick; my body rejected the transfusion immediately. I was very scared that the stem cells would not graft properly and that my organs wouldn't take it", says Erich.
Erich fought hard and eventually he was able to go home and as soon as he had doctors' permission, go on holiday with his wife.
Erich on holiday with his wife
"The disease has taken my peace-of-mind, the feeling that nothing can happen to me. In return it has given me the strength to fight, to live and enjoy every day," comments Erich.
Help people like Erich by becoming a member of the cure for leukaemia and haematological malignacies, HERE. You will help us to continue our research so that one day these diseases will be 100% curable. With only a little you can do so much. Thank you!
Find out more about bone marrow donation, HERE