"My name is Maria Jose and on January 27th 2011, after turning 27 years old, I received some life changing news. I was diagnosed acute myeloblastic leukaemia. When the doctor told me, everything changed and I acknowledged that we have limited time and that being young doesn't mean being healthy. After that I felt confused and devastated because, a few days earlier, I had lost my job. I wanted to cry but was unable to.
While they transferred me to my room I felt scared and wanted to scream. I still couldn't understand anything and it wasn't until I met my roommate that I truly acknowledged the gravity of this illness and the strength I was going to need to overcome what was coming.
Three days later, the chemos started: the nose bleeding, the pain, the nausea, the vomits, the eternal fever nights... I stopped eating and drinking because it hurt; it was like being in the desert, lost. I wanted to die; the only thing that kept me going was the love of my family, friends and roommates; their strength, the unlimited fight spirit of everyone surrounding me. Little by little they infected me their strength, their support and their care.
After five months of treatment the day 0 finally came, the day of my bone marrow transplant, the most expected day. My donors were my mom, who has given me life twice, and an anonymous mother who generously gave the umbilical cord blood of his son.
And what can I say, that my life changed for good, that it wasn't all suffering, that there were some happy moments, like when I saw my roommates get better, that all of this has taught me to value what I had and didn't see, to enjoy a glass of water, the sunlight, watching people walk down the street; to be happy with the simple things in life.
Two years later I feel fine. I have been able to travel to incredible places, I have gone back to school, I'm working again and I am very happy. I feel much better than before. It's as if I was a better version of myself.
The most important lection though, was the one that my first roommate left me; that the winner isn't who wins, but who never gives up... Unfortunately she wasn't able to beat leukaemia but her light is still shining in all of the people who once met her.
This testimony is dedicated to her and her family, who I adore and truly admire!