In May 2006, along with who used to be my husband, we planned a great trip to China, for it is one of my greatest passions. Fifteen days before, I caught a viral pharyngitis and ran a very high fever, but the doctor gave me some antibiotics and we waited for the fever to go back down. At the same time, my gums began to swell, but I figured it was due to the visits to the dentist. This, added to the fatigue I was feeling and how skinny I was getting, made my husband ask me if I was sure I didn't want to cancel the trip. Nonetheless, I told him I really wanted to go and that I felt so tired because our two year-old daughter didn't let us sleep, and we really needed some vacations.
So we took a 14-hour flight to Beijing. The culture was amazing and everything was so beautiful. When we got to Xian, I started to feel pretty bad; a huge black zit had appeared in my tongue and I had a very high fever. So, just like in the movies, they set up a field hospital in our hotel room and gave me alternative Chinese medicine. Truth is, I got so much better that we decided to fly to Shanghai, two days later.
When we got to Shanghai I started to feel dizzy, the fever had returned and I could hardly walk. In the middle of the night my husband had to go to the front desk and tell them that I was very sick. The director of the hotel came to my room and they decided to take me to a private hospital. There we were, my husband and I alone, me with an unbelievably high fever, vomiting, and full of bruises all over my legs. When they got the analytic results they told me I had to be admitted. After a couple of hours and after taking a bone marrow puncture the doctors came to my room and told me I had leukaemia. They said it was very bad. They told me I had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in a very advanced stage, but that they couldn't treat me with chemotherapy because I was occidental and there were bureaucratic and political problems.
So my husband and I were left alone in China, trying to communicate in English and trying to get back home in order to stop my disease. Things continued to go wrong, because my condition was so serious, no flight company wanted to fly me back home scared I would die in the plane. Finally, thanks to the Spanish Consulate and our family in Santander, they managed, after almost three days, to get a doctor to fly me from Madrid to Shanghai so that I could travel medicated and sedated. Therefore, they did another blood and platelet transfusion and took me to the airport in a stretcher.
I hardly remember my trip back home, for I was very anesthetized. We travelled from Shanghai to Paris and from there to Biarritz. Once there, a mobile ICU took me to the U. Marqués de Valdecilla Hospital in Santander. I arrived unconscious and my condition was very serious, but after the three chemo cycles, and after being admitted for months I made it to the bone marrow transplant. Thanks to the Foundation and to REDMO, you found me an American donor so that I could see my two year-old daughter grow. And now I am happy, happier than ever, 5 years have passed since the transplant and, although I still have some long-term effects, there is nothing left from the leukaemia.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story. Best regards!
If you want more information about the donation of bone marrow to help people like Carolina (and many other patients) to have the opportunity of a cure, click HERE. Remember that the donation of bone marrow is altruistic, anonymous, and universal. If you register as a bone marrow donor, you could be making a donation to a person from anywhere in the world. If you want more information, write to [email protected] or call us on our free phone number (in Spain) 900 32 33 34.
You could also become a member of the José Carreras Foundation. With a little amount you could help us to continue our research.