Tribute to Balbina
My mom had myelofibrosis. They detected it through a blood analysis which she asked the doctor for because she had a lot of pain in her legs. She was a tough woman, even with 66 years old and, two days before they detected the illness, she would climb the trees of our land like Tarzan to grab fruits.
At first, they told us she had leukaemia but that they had to keep running tests. She was admitted for two weeks in the hospital. At the end, they detected myelofibrosis and they told us that we had to call all of her siblings to test if they were compatible with her so that she could undergo a bone marrow transplant.
Ana Isabel, with her mother, Balbina.
One sister turned out to be compatible but they told us that they couldn't do it because of her age, for the probabilities of survival were very low. They told us that there was nothing they could do, that they would treat her with medicine and wait. Some months after, they proposed a trial medicine but they could only order it if her platelets rose. When they ordered it, their petition was rejected due to this problem. In the end, her platelets started to rise slowly and we waited for the next answer, to start treatment as soon as possible. Nevertheless, my mom started to get worse; she started feeling tired, then had haemorrhages, her spleen started to expand... and they began with the blood transfusions.
They started with one transfusion, after 3 months they did another one and little by little it turned out to be a monthly thing. We were still waiting for the medicine which was supposedly ordered and they told us that they would get it in March. March came and nothing, so the months kept passing and they told her, again, in January we will give it to you. January came and nothing, although her platelets were better and it was the best time to give it to her. She kept getting worse until they had to give her 2 to 3 blood transfusions per week, until she reached the limit and she was diagnosed acute leukaemia. It was then when they told us that they couldn't do anything else, give her the new medicine or anything, so all of the hopes they had given us ended up in nothing. I still believe that they never wanted to give it to her, but oh well...
At the end, she survived a little less than one more month. Little by little she started to turn off and, with her, my desperation for not being able to do anything. My mother knew everything from the start, she knew what she had and that she had two to three years to live, which turned out to be a year and a half due to the medical incompetence there is today because of the crisis. Until the last day she knew everything and until the last day she fought with all her strength and today I am thankful for having been able to say good bye to her, kiss her and hold her wrist with all my strength. Those last hours were incredibly hard for me, I promised her I wouldn't cry and I didn't because I knew that she could hear everything although she couldn't see me.
Today I want to give this message of hope to all of the people who suffer from this unfair illness and those who don't just in case they do someday because, in spite of everything, there is always hope or at least you can always try to make those people happy like I did with my mom. While she was admitted in the hospital and I spent all 24 hours of the day with her, 4 rooms next to us was a friend's mom, also with cancer, who was dying. While I comforted that family I was dying inside me from rage and impotence, I had so many knots in my throat from holding my tears that when I got out of the room of my friend's mom, I cried a little and in less than one minute I dried off the tears and entered my mom's room with the biggest smile of the world, I even kid around with her and tickled her feet so that she would smile.
Ana Isabel, with Victor, a leukaemia former patient, during an activity of the José Carreras Leukaemia Foundation.
This is the story of my mom with me, so I hope that it helps a lot of people. What I can feel proudest about is being able to help as many people as possible and I know that, my mother is seeing it and I know she is proud of me".