THE DAY THAT CHANGED MY LIFE
"The 30th of May, 2008... That was the day my life changed. I'll make a brief summary to date. I had worked for ten years for a petrochemical company, without taking any sick days and having medical check-ups twice a year, so I went to work just like any other day (and only the day before I had donated blood), I had my check-up and went to my workstation. Just before leaving I got a call from Medical Services saying the results were strange so they would need to repeat the test (they thought the lab had made a mistake, but the mistake was mine for believing this). After the second results I was sent straight to the hospital for more tests. I wondered what was wrong, but no-one told me anything. As events unfolded, I asked to be taken to the Hospital de Cadiz where my whole family and I live. The only time I cried was during the ambulance ride.
In Cadiz I was sent straight to Haematology and I cannot thank the staff there enough, especially Dr Mari Carmen. That night my wife found out the diagnosis and I began to suspect it. After further days of tests I was told I had L5 Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
Well then, let's be brave!
I spent a month in hospital, then a week of chemo and then had to cope with the side-effects, but I always had a smile or a joke to offer.
Then I had a week at home, at last, but things weren't like before; my wife (as one would expect) was frightened and her smile was a pretence, and I was not as strong as before. At the end of the week, the same thing, another round of chemo and then a wait to see what happens. In hospital one does not learn from doctors, one learns from fellow patients and from their families. And I realized that although medicine helps, the cure is in your head. That's why I tell those of you that are ill that you must be positive and think it's a cold cured by being a baldy.
Meanwhile my siblings took compatibility tests. My brother had Hepatitis so my only option was my sister... That day I won the lottery, I hope the same happens for everyone!
Transplants aren't done in Cadiz so I was sent to Jerez Hospital. I want to give many thanks to everyone there, especially Dr Garzón. My transplant was on the 26th of September, 2008. I wasn't exactly well the two months I spent there. I couldn't eat because I vomited everything and I couldn't get up because I suffered from bad headaches (caused by a spinal tap) that would only cease when lying down. I also had a fever, and various pains, etc... what's to be expected but I remained positive. When I left I wasn't in the best state but I was very happy. I went from the hospital bed to my own bed. I still had many hospital visits ahead for check-ups and blood transfusions. Rejection? Yes, I experienced this and still do. What type? Well, everything, hepatic rejection, metabolic, dermatological, and more... But slowly one recovers from everything. When I felt strong enough I asked my doctor if I could practice sport and his response was "listen to your body", and so I did!
On the 1st of January at 9am I made a resolution. That day I ran for 5 minutes. On the 26th of September 2010 (exactly two years after my transplant) I completed my first HALF MARATHON (1:49:56).
As many of you know the road is very bumpy, but as a Barcelona coach used to say, "SIEMPRE POSITIVO, NUNCA NEGATIVO!!! (ALWAYS POSITIVE, NEVER NEGATIVE)".
I have to thank my sister, of course, who donated her bone marrow to me, my family who were always by my side, my daughter Paula because just thinking about her crying if I didn't make gave me the strength to put up with everything, and above all my wife Mª Ángeles, as I wouldn't have made it without her. Often she fooled me with a happy face and a smile but inside she was crying her eyes out. By the way, she is a bone marrow donor too.
I always remember those that made it and I hope they're OK, like me, and those that didn't make it, I just hope their families are strong and remember that they never stopped fighting and were all very brave.
I was very lucky, and you will be too. Let's go for it!
Help people like Javier 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