Hello, my name is Irene and I am 27 years old. Just before I fell ill, I was finishing my studies in chemical engineering in Badajoz. I was going to the faculty, studying, I was carrying our my studies in the lab, I was going to the gym almost daily, and what is more I was even finding time to have fun and go out with my friends.
Irene, before her illness walking in Extremadura
On the 9th of June 2010 my life changed. After two weeks of suffering from strange bruising, I had a blood test which produced alarming results. I was immediately hospitalized in San Pedro de Alcántara Hospital in Cáceres (my home town). On the 10th they conducted a puncture of my bone marrow and a few short hours later they told me the news: I had Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia. The haematologist gave me lots of hope after he told me that 82% of patients were completely cured. That gave me a lot of spirit and the only thing I said was "do what is necessary as soon as possible because the only thing I know is that I don't want to die".
The following day they started to administer the chemotherapy, up to 5 cycles. In my room, 417, it was like being at home: I didn't feel pain, I was really hungry, and I was entertained easily. But once these cycles finished the side effects began. Three weeks without eating; those days were long and my head was only thinking about what I was going to eat when I left that room. Finally the day arrived and my defences increased after 32 days. They conducted another puncture and I went home. I only wanted to see my family and friends and to eat whatever I wanted.
Later the consolidation treatment began with a return to hospital. When I went into hospital for the first consolidation, attached to serum and the machines, the timing was bad because it coincided with the wedding of one of my friends. But....would you believe it! Before getting married, my friend came to see me, saying: "I am not going to get married without going to see Irene". That really cheered me up. Although I couldn't be there, I followed the ceremony via video call and at the end all my other friends came to visit me, all of them were beautiful. My eyes shone like never before and I was really happy because I realized that although I wasn't physically at the wedding, but they had me with them during every moment. The following day I received an amazing gift; they had saved the bouquet for me and my eyes shone once more.
Irene, with her friends and the bride
After the 3rd and final consolidation I was placed once more in isolation because my defences were really low and they were taking time to improve. I left hospital on the 11th of October and from then on I started my big comeback. There were many low points but with my strength I got there.
Irene surrounded by her nurses
Now 5 months have passed since I left hospital and you would not believe how my life has changed... I went to London with my sister and a friend. It since unreal to be there after all that had happened.
Irene, In London
After Christmas I returned to my degree and started to study for the February exams: a successful test!
Every morning, I wake up and feel special. I feel like I have come back to life and I know how to take advantage of the opportunities, which make you feel happier and give you a thirst for life. My professional future...for now I am not sure and I don't know where it will be. What I do know is that I have to help the people that are passing through the same situation that I experienced. I want them to see that at the end of the dark tunnel, which contains many obstacles, there is a light that leads to happiness. I have no doubt about this.
Irene, today, with her friend Lupe
Warmest regards and wishes to everyone!! Keep on fighting!!
Become a member of the cure for leukaemia and other haematological malignancies, HERE
Find out more about bone marrow donation, HERE