My name is Toni and I am 38 years old. I was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia on May 4th 2007.
One week before, I had a little bit of a nose bleed. I didn't consider it important at first, but just two days later, when I started to bleed in my gums, I began to worry. I went to the doctor and they told me I should use some mouthwash and put some king of plug in my nose... The next days, bruises began to appear in my legs and arms and I had no doubt that something wasn't working in my body.
That Friday, May 4th, I was spoken to clearly, just as I wanted. Cancer is a scary word, before and now; in my case, Leukaemia sounded even worse. I was so in shock that the first day I was unable to pronounce the word leukaemia, it was as if my mind didn't let me repeat it. That day was chaotic, what had begun as a normal day (the initial idea was to go to the doctor and then go to work) became an explosion of information, data, tests, doctors, fears... and chemotherapy. I feel very nostalgic when I think about these first days, almost as if, despite the gravity of my disease, they were good memories. In fact, they have to be for I am telling this story 5 years later.
With age 33, married, with a three year old child and another 1 year old, with a job that let us live a calm and comfortable life, my disease changed my life 180 degrees. I spent one month in an isolation cabin, without being able to touch, kiss, or embrace my girls... I remember that, if there was one reason for why I wanted to keep on living, it was to see them grow, so that they wouldn't have to grow without a father. In that moment, the idea of leaving my children, the idea of thinking that, in time, they wouldn't remember who their father was or how he behaved, was much more painful than the disease itself or the fact that it was my life that was at risk.
I observed them through my window, playing, laughing and running in the hospital's grass, unaware of the complicated situation our family was going through. I could see them, but they didn't see me. The distance (I was on the 4th floor) and the tainted glasses were cruel elements that played against us. As the days passed, my wit helped us beat this adversity, I asked for a lantern and from my room I made luminous signs to them. While I spoke on the phone with my older daughter, Paula, she told me: "Yes dad, I see the light, I see it".
After that first month, which was the toughest, I came back home with extreme protection measures: a mask, a hat, some gloves and a gown were my permanent uniform. In order to minimize the shock for my daughters of seeing his dad dressed as a sick person at all times, we would play doctors. I was Dr. Garcia who treated their daughters and their daughter's dolls. Once again, my wit helped with the complicated situation and my daughters, Paula and Carla gave me life.
My life changed, 2 years and a half of treatment, plenty of transfusions and continuous trips from my house to the hospital and back to my house, have altered my life. A life which, although it has little to do with the one I had before 2007, offers me the opportunity to do things which I was unable to do before. Take drama classes, study or coach a basketball team occupy most of my time. Being with my family and friends and telling them how much I love them occupy another part. Doing everything in my hands to make my daughters happy with their father is my main occupation and preoccupation today.
(April 2012), with my daughters, Paula and Carla.
I want to finish this story, a story that is so similar and so different to that of many others, giving thanks to the Manacor Hospital and Son Llàtzer Hospital teams, who at some point were in contact with me, from nurses to haematologists, as well as the cleaning and cafeteria workers. All of them helped my experience be less traumatic.
The only thing left is to thank you, for donating blood and/or platelets, because my children won't be able to thank you enough for growing up knowing who their father is and how much he loves them.
If you want more information about the donation of bone marrow to help people like Toni (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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.