Hello, we are Ismael´s parents, and this is his story, the story of a champion.
We want to start this story on the 28th of February 2012, because for us, it's the second happiest day of our lives, right after the day our son was born. That February 28th, Ismael finished his treatment, the one which helped him recover from an acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Now we shall go back two years in time, when our champion was 5 years old, and he was a normal kid, with a normal life, and shared his studies with other activities such as dance and swimming lessons. However, one day, he started to feel bad, he got fever, and everything indicated he had the typical winter flu.
We did not worry, because he usually suffered from otitis due to his swimming lessons. We took him to his paediatrician so that he could diagnose him and he could have the adequate antibiotics. He prescribed him the typical week-long antibiotics. He had already taken it sometimes, so we knew that after three days the fever should disappear. However after five days it hadn't disappeared so we started to feel worried, as the right side of the body started to ache as well. As soon as he told us about the pain, we decided to take him to the hospital. This was a Friday. We took him to La Paz, in Madrid, where we stayed for 4 hours waiting in the emergency room, where they made several tests until they told us that he had to remain the whole weekend at the hospital, because they were not sure whether he had pneumonia or tuberculosis. There is where our real suffering began, when we did not know what he really had.
We were quite surprised, not because of pneumonia, as he had been one week at the hospital when he was 2 due to this problem, but because of tuberculosis, which we thought no longer existed in developed countries, although we were wrong, as the doctors later told us at the hospital. Therefore, they made him some tuberculosis tests, which took two days, and they made him some x-rays, which showed some liquid between the lung and the pleura, which was causing the pain in the side of his body.
After the weekend, Ismael still had fever, but strangely he was feeling better, and he even danced for his grandmother in the room at the hospital. On Monday morning the doctor in charge came in and told us some good news, the tuberculosis tests had been negative, so we were very happy. However, the happiness did not last long. I still remembered the exact moment when three doctors entered in the room and they told us the damned words: "we have bad news, your son has leukaemia". In that moment my world collapsed upon me. Ismael´s mother was working, but his Granma and me were there with him. My mother-in law told me some time after that I had turned white and it seemed I was about to faint. As I am writing this, I can't think about it, I have that memory locked in some place in my mind, because I cannot write about it without crying.
I knew that leukaemia was a very dangerous disease, but I had never been informed about it, because I'm very sensitive with medical matters. I did not know how to tell the news to my wife, and I had to wait for her to come to the hospital, because I could not risk her driving after giving here the news. So I let my mother-in law give her the news. It´s not necessary for me to tell you about that moment, as you can imagine that a mother´s suffering after something like this is unbearable.
We have to be eternally thankful to all the doctors, nurses and staff of the La Paz Hospital, because they did not lose a minute, from the moment they told us the news until they decided to take us all to the sixth floor, which is dedicated to pediatric oncology. The same day they gave us a room on that floor, and the next day they made him the bone marrow test, to verify 100% that he had leukaemia. The next day the test results were positive; we still had the hope that the doctors were mistaken, but it was not like that, and they immediately started to administer chemotherapy.
14 days after the bone marrow test, we had the first good news; the chemotherapy was doing effect and our son's marrow was completely clean. The doctors had a meeting with us, as they had done before to explain all the treatment and to give us support, and they told us that although Ismael´s marrow was clean, we had to finish the treatment, which would last for two years. We barely noticed how long two years are, because our solely hope was that our son recovered and continued with his normal life.
I don't want to give details, because you can imagine them, and those that unfortunately are living this now know how bad one feels during all this time. But we can say that during the treatment there were a lot of complications due to low defences, low haemoglobin and platelets that chemotherapy causes. Ismael had surgery because of an anorectic abscess and had to spend some time at the intensive care unit due to a pneumonia that had completely covered one lung and part of the other. I say these things so that all the parents that are having a bad moment know that they can have hope, that I know how much they are suffering, but that they must remember that love and hope are essential during these moments.
All these happened in only seven months, from the moment they diagnosed the leukaemia, going through the surgery, the stay in the intensive care unit and his return to school in September. It was not the same Ismael that his classmates and friends knew, mostly physical, because he was still having chemotherapy and other drugs that affected him.
The first school day we had to help him climb the school steps and his teacher had to help him with his bag, but the three of us were the happiest people in the world, looking how our son came back to his life, the one he should have never abandoned.
Now we can continue with the moment we started this story, right now. Our champion has been nearly 5 months without the medication that was killing him, but was also giving him life. Today I can say that, thank God, thanks to the doctors and to the love we gave him, our son is now healed and we are confident this will be like this forever.
Today we do not help him climb the steps, nor do we carry his bag. He stands for himself, and he continues his live from the point he paused it two years ago.
This is the story of a great champion, as many others in the entire World that have suffered and continue suffering, but they have the hope to recover their life, as Ismael has.
There is something good in this story, many more I would say, but the main thing is Ismael´s plan, the fact that he wants to start again his dance classes, and he wants to study a lot to become a nurse of the sixth floor of the maternity stage at the La Paz Hospital, and take care of all the kids that are there. I wish there are not a lot, or any if possible.
To end this story of overcoming, we would like to thank all the staff, nurses and doctors from the second floor, the intensive care unit, the sixth floor and surgeons of the La Paz Hospital in Madrid. Also we would like to thank the Jose Carreras foundation, Jugaterapia, Asion, Pequeño Deseo, the Red Cross and everybody that helps and takes care of the kids and their families.
Thanks a lot to all of them.
If you want more information about the donation of bone marrow to help people like Ismael (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.