My daughter was 2,5 when I got sick. I was terrified that if I died she wouldn’t remember me.
I remember that autumn 5 years ago very well. There appeared ‘something’ above my collarbone. It looked like a small ball under the skin. It didn’t hurt but I wanted to know what it was. I wasn’t worried then, didn’t suspect that such a small thing could change my life. A week after ‘it’ appeared I started my first real job after graduating, so I was happy. It wasn’t too long before the illness made me quit. My GP sent me to the oncologist. I was surprised with the first diagnosis though, the doctor linked the lump with dental problems. I didn’t look sick, didn’t feel sick and my blood tests didn’t show any abnormalities. I would let the lump be but then it started growing. I saw laryngologist then and she made me to do detailed blood tests and neck tomography. Seeing the growing lump she suspected that could be something bad like Hodgkin's lymphoma or leukemia. After checking the results she concluded though, that this was nothing serious. She only advised me to have it cut out as it pressed the blood vessel. This has been the first time Hodgkin's lymphoma name was said out loud.
The doctors had been trying for a few months to find the answer to what the growth was. Finally the operation – it took 2 hours to cut out this already 4cm big lump. Only then histopathology finally brought the fatal diagnosis, this time confirmed - Hodgkin's lymphoma. Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of the easier treating cancers. There’s nothing to be afraid of… hair is growing back …’ said the doctor in Oncology Centre looking at my long hair. ‘Your child will have mother’ – he added. And the treatment started.
Indeed, after few series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy which lasted throughout whole 2010, my hair grew back. Chemotherapy took all my energy. It’s unbelievable how same thing can destroy and help at the same time. The hours after chemotherapy were the worst. Dizziness, vomiting, complete lack of energy. I wasn’t even able to think, and only prayed for that time to pass, for this all to end. When I finally defeated the cancer all that was forgotten. I lived again, without cancer.
I was winning the life only till next checkup, when the illness changed the game’s rules again. Relapse… after year and a half. ‘It can’t be real’ – I thought. 4 cycles of chemotherapy didn’t help so I was given stronger one, which was killing the cancer cells but was destroying me along. The way I got shingels, ear and throat infection. These are all the side effects you can live with though. In contrary to cancer, which clung to me and started having an advantage in this game of life.
Great expectations, probably last ones, I put in autograft. This was linked with really strong, destructive chemistry. To endure I kept repeating myself that this was the last time. After the test showed beaming points – cancer was active. Another chemotherapy – even stronger. I’m completing the third cycle. What terrifies me most is the fact that I’ve already gone through 16 cycles of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and still have not completely got rid of cancer. I’m afraid that before I manage to defeat it the chemotherapy will kill me first. Liters of chemicals ran through me and still nothing.
I started looking for another way to defeat the illness. ‘There must be something there to help me survive’- I thought. And it looks like there is, indeed. – ‘You can’t afford this treatment’ – I was told. Adcetris, medication that cures 70% with Hodgkin's lymphoma, for 30% it means total recovery. What’s more this isn’t another chemotherapy that destroys me without really helping. It’s a therapy aiming directly the spot where the cancer is. ‘How much it costs?’ – I asked. ‘The whole therapy over 125.000 Euro.’ Shock. Adding up all my savings, donations from family and friends I’m still lacking over 100.000 Euro.
I play for life. My opponent is in me, destroying me from inside. It sets the rules, but I can gain the advantage. The cure is there, I don’t have to go off on a dangerous journey and climb the mountains to get it. What I need is only money, this ‘only’ though seems like a really high mountain. National Health Fund closes this door for me. That’s why all I can do is to ask people for help me to win this game. To make all this effort, 5 years of fighting with the illness, worth it. To make me win.