Laura and Felipe
How to be born again without previously having turned into ashes?
They might not be conscious about it but they both work to give sense to life. They had to touch ground to win strength after this adventure. This is the story of Laura and Felipe, or the story of how to loose in order to win.
Laura, with her son Álvaro and her brother Felipe
Laura is 36 years old and is an archeologist. And Felipe, her youngest brother, is an illustrator. Their jobs have something in common, they both have to give life to things which apparently seem dead: objects, experiences, memories. It is exactly this paradox what you can see at R.I.P, the latest graphic work of Felipe Almendros. Although its tittle seems to recall suffering and restlessness, it is completely the opposite.
R.I.P.s cover, Felipe Almendro's graphic novel.
"In a retrospective way, this book talks about a journey into my consciousness in order to solve my problems through my sister's healness. The truth is that I think it was my sister who saved my life", says Felipe.
But in order to understand it we should go back some years. " It suddenly looked like the world came to an end." That is what Laura thought , when only 33 y.o. was diagnosed with an acute myeloid leukemia / AML. After moving from Mexico, where she lived, to Barcelona's Hospital Clinic, she started her chemotherapy treatment, starting like this a journey which ended up in a bone marrow transplant, to which she saw no ending.
I still thought I would be healed with chemo and that it would be useless to have my brother taking a risk ... Several days afterwards I was told Felipe was 100% compatible with me ... I remember I still could not understand , it was like if I released that thought because I was scared about the transplant" , recalls Laura.
Laura during her treatment.
Under those circumstances, Felipe was not going through his best. " during those dark days I was not able to leave home. Physical pain due to an agoraphobia was beating me down, not letting me handle a normal life. While undergoing those strange anxiety episodes, in the middle of a treatment, I received two fatal phone calls announcing a worsening of the depression I was undergoing: my father had died and my sister needed a bone marrow to heal her leukaemia ", describes Felipe on her book. " But sometimes you need real problems to overcome those which you don't know where are they coming from.
" I understood that helping my sister overcoming her leukaemia would help me overcoming this bloody depression. That is why I always say that real traumas make you overcome those which you don't know where are they coming from. At least it worked for me, it made me touch the ground and being 100% concentrated on helping my sister. I thought it was me who owed her something, and that I needed to explain it somehow", that is how Felipe explains how was he pulled into creating this comic book.
And transplant time came. " I do remember I was very nervous and curious about it, about how it would be, how would I feel, I asked and asked, at the end two little bags with a pink liquid when getting in touch with my body made me feel a cockle flavour
, ha-ha. I felt like having tapas ... That day Felipe was also there, like every day, and not only did he healed me by giving me his bone marrow, he was there every single day, taking care of me, but what is more important, he made me laugh, I don' remember if there was any pain during the process, I just know we laughed inside the special room with all those plastics and that cockle smell. Since then we can't eat them. Even though all what he was going through as a person, I had the bravest and strongest brother besides me, he gave me life again, a new chance, and gave me countless love ..." assures Laura.
Felipe also remembers that day with happiness and hope. " Being able to help someone so easily seemed a privilege for me. If it hadn't been my sister , I would have also done it. I don't have kids, but being able to give life to someone , must be something similar to this. I remember waking up in a stretcher after the donation besides a very kind nurse . I also remember that, even though under anaesthesia effects, I didnt stop talking to her and thanking her what they had done for my sister."
With his experience, they both gave each other a second chance and showed they appreciate life above anything. You don't know how strong you are until life tests you. Laugh and enjoy life because it is wonderful. Laura' s words summarize this life lesson told by brother and sister who, in order to win, first had to loose. "when life tests you and you loose everything, from that day on you can only start winning. Sick, weak, not controlling my body nor my life, without health ... Just then I started to win, to learn what I could do, to accept who was I and did I want, to understand my life, to change what I did not like, to accept who was by my side and, most of all, who did I want besides me in my life ...a considered silent and treasonous illness, cancer, and which after all gave me the chance to learn how to love me in the worst times of my existence, to accept me in my weakest times, to appreciate my body when it had lost all beauty I hadn't seen before, to look myself at the mirror and not seeing a sick person but as a fighting woman, and being able to understand illness as the start of a healing process of my soul and being . A being who had to be so close to death in order to rebirth with strength and a unique will to live."
● What does being a bone marrow donor mean and where can you be informed?
Laura and Felipe summarize it like this:
Laura: “Giving bone marrow to your brother might be unquestionable , seems to be the correct thing, and eventhough I think it makes you feel complete after doing so, giving bone marrow without expecting anything for it , when you don’t know who swill receive it , makes you become a human being in all senses. You give life, but what is most important, you give a chance for a better life”.
Felipe: “Sometimes, maybe due to a lack of information, we think giving bone marrow is going to be a traumatic experience with needles stuck on your back and similar things. But the truth is completely different. There are many patients waiting to find a compatible person. What if you were that person?”.
Click HERE and learn more about bone marrow donation.