MY PLAN IS TO TRAVEL, DO VOLUNTEER WORK... AND A THOUSAND OTHER THINGS
In Spain, about 14,000 new cases of hematologic malignancies (about 5,000 leukaemia, about 7,000 lymphoma and about 2,000 myeloma) are diagnosed every year. Broadly speaking, and depending on the subtype of diseases, hope for a cure has increased in recent years but we are still losing 25% of the paediatric patients and about half of the adult patients.
Our top priority is to cure leukaemia and other haematologic malignancies once and for all but... not only that! We also want to improve the patients' quality of life and the long-term effects they suffer as a result of the harsh chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. All patients, men and women, young and old, Spaniards, Germans, French, Americans... all of them have plans for the future, dreams to be met when they have been cured and that help them to fight the disease with even greater willpower. Dreams such as Jenny's, a German patient from Berlin, who is 20 years old and whose dreams are "to travel, do volunteer work and a thousand other things".
Jenny with her parents, during treatment
Letter from Jenny to the Foundation
"Dear Friends of the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Foundation,
Four years have gone by since, on my 16th birthday, the doctor told me for the first time that I had leukaemia. At the time, my first thought was: "This is the end. I'm dying. At 16". However, the doctors said that with appropriate chemotherapy we could almost certainly beat the disease. Now, in 2009, I have been diagnosed with leukaemia again for the third time. It's horrible to feel that you have something in you that you can't control. To feel that you can't do anything, that some malignant cells are steadily destroying your body.
The nine month intensive chemotherapy, following the first diagnosis, was terribly tough. It was both a friend and an enemy since, it not only destroyed the leukaemia cells, it also destroyed the healthy ones. I had to fight against very strong side effects, the bone pain was indescribable, I couldn't walk properly and I suffered from depression. But, somehow, I overcame this horrible treatment. I was alive. And that was all that mattered.
Then the first relapse happened, after which followed a long hospital stay. During that time I tried not to lose hope - no matter how ill I felt. Hadn't it been for my parents, my friends and the caring support of the medical and nursing team, I wouldn't have been able to overcome these terrible weeks. But the chemo had its effects. I was taken off the drugs and my family and I were able to recover our daily routine.
And then the second relapse happened. The doctors immediately understood that my last hope of life was a bone marrow transplant. The days before the transplant were the worst days of my life: I was terrified. I knew about all the possible effects of a transplant and I knew that they could be deadly.
Often, I didn't know what was going to happen, whether I was going to live another day or not. Will the chemotherapy needed for the transplant work? Will my body stand the harsh treatment until the bone marrow transplant takes place? I couldn't keep these questions out of my mind, however, only time would answer them. During these days of struggle and wait, I often thought about my friends in hospital who had lost their fight against leukaemia and had died. I prayed. No way did I want to lose hope.
It is now almost half a year that I've been living with my new marrow. It's working 100% and each day there's higher hope of my having overcome this terrible disease forever. I find it very strange when I think about all I have had to go through these past few years. Please cooperate with the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Foundation so that, in future, those patients with leukaemia suffer less.
Jenny with her parents when she was in the isolation room
As for me, I hope to take the university entry examination next year and then do a year of voluntary work. And, sometime in the future, I'd like to travel a lot, visit new countries, be successful professionally and read many interesting books. Or, in other words:
I just want to live!
Lots of love".
Help people like Jenny 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