Tribute to Desirée
Desirée fought with all her strength against Hodgkin's Lymphoma, undergoing several bone marrow transplants, always with determination, courage and joy. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to beat the battle against the disease but her energy and willpower will always be with us.
This is her fight testimony:
"It is an unknown world until you find yourself inside it... and it is a world which is hard to understand and tough but it is an incredible experience to live.
Desirée, during her 31st birthday
They diagnosed Hodgkin's Lymphoma for the first time on January 2007. One day I woke up with a lump in my collarbone and my mother insisted on going to the hospital (I didn't want to). Just by the look the doctor in the emergency room gave me, I started to worry. We decided to go to the hospital and there they gave me a diagnosis which would change my life forever.
I was a girl who got dizzy just by taking a blood test, but that day there was a before and an after. Once I got the news my silly fears disappeared. It was a tough day for the whole family: the bad news, a lot of information and a lot to accept and assimilate. At first everything seemed like a big deal: thinking about the effects the chemo would have on me, hair loss, nausea ... I could not believe this was happening to me. That day my family and I cried a lot but since from that moment on we all became stronger and started to pull forward.
It was six hard months but they had a happy ending for I got the news that the chemo cycles had been sufficient, the cancerous mass had no longer activity. Well, I was cured! It was a very special 26th birthday where all of us had learned to see life differently and appreciate every little thing like the best thing ever.
Since then I have been a very very happy girl. I have enjoyed endless trips, meeting people, going out and every little thing that I found along the way.
Nevertheless, in November 2011 fate had another rock on the road prepared for me. I started having fever and cold symptoms. I went to the doctor and was prescribed something for a cold. Time passed but I kept getting worse. I suffered from bronchitis, pneumonia and when all these symptoms ended up disappearing the fever remained. They took a Tac ... and there it was ... the mass was back and it was getting bigger. I had a relapse! I had not even thought about that happening to me, you go to the regular check-ups a little bit scared but deep down you think that this can't happen to you again.
Then began the hardest battle I have ever had to fight and which I'm still struggling. I could not believe it was back; that this was happening to me again... what I still didn't know was that it was going to be harder than the last time.
Desirée, during the Week against Leukaemia
I started chemo, cycles of three days, a three-week break and then 5 days of chemo hooked to a machine for 24 hours and another three-week break. It turned out to be much, much stronger than the first time. I lost all the hair quickly, all of the symptoms increased by three compared to the previous time but I remained strong and thinking it was all for a good cause: heal and go back to normal.
When I finished the chemo I went to the doctor to see how it had worked and if I could undergo the autologous transplant they had planned. I was so convinced I would be cured: I had been positive, strong, feisty ... But no, the news was that it had not had the desired effect and I'd have to get more chemo.
Again, I received several 4-day cycles of even stronger chemo, with regular blood and platelet transfusions to alleviate what the chemo was doing to my body.
I finished the cycles and again went to the doctor to know how it had worked out. Oh! It seemed like good news, the mass had reduced, there was little activity but he didn't believe the autologous transplant would be enough to kill my lymphoma. The cancer creature did not want to leave me.
The fact is that in the end, they programmed the autologous transplant. Once I was admitted it turned out to be a little bit better than I thought because thankfully, rather than admitting me in a windowless room, I had a room with a window and every day I saw how it dawned with daylight. It seems little but to me that meant the world.
It was my day "0" and everything was more or less within normal for an autologous transplant. It is a hard process to go through but it has an ending. I always knew that in my case, there was a 30% chance of becoming cured with the autologous transplant. But I kept my hope until the end.
The test results came back and the doctor's visit ... and, again, bad news. A portion of the mass had no activity but there was still some remaining in the rest of it. The bug felt comfortable inside me and it was going to be much more difficult than what was expected to get rid of him. Anyway, the next step was a bone marrow transplant from a compatible donor.
I had spent months meeting people with leukaemia, lymphoma, and a thousand other things, treated with chemo and still needing transplants. Months reading testimonies from people on the website of the José Carreras Foundation, through Pelones Peleones, and others and it broke my heart to know that children lost their lives for not having a compatible bone marrow donor, people with family, girls and boys with a lifetime ahead of them who had no donor.
And now it was my turn ...I was the one who needed the transplant. And I was lucky! Finally, I was lucky! Several potential donors were 100% compatible with me. I felt and feel the luckiest girl on earth, later I will have time to worry about what is coming next. Unfortunately, here in Spain, there is not enough information and people don't know how easy it is to donate bone marrow and that it is DONATING LIFE IN LIFE.
Now I have to start the race which I hope has a nearby goal. I fear a little this next step but I have my best running shoes on, and I'm ready to go very, very quickly to the goal. It's the only way I WILL FINALLY KICK AWAY THE BUG.
I'm gathering strength and positivity for this race so that it seems more like a peaceful walk and luckily I am surrounded by people who help make this path much easier.
Although now I've got a hard road to travel, I find a positive side to my experience. I have learned to value life, the little things, to not get angry over little things, to always have a smile in my face. I am happy because I have never felt alone and I'm surrounded by great people. In my work it has all been facilities. It is a hard experience, very hard, but it makes you grow as a person in unsuspected ways.
Desirée, with her parents and her boyfriend
I can only say thank you for having the good fortune to be surrounded by wonderful people who make my journey much smoother. I also have eternal gratitude for my donor. "