- LOLA, CRIS FOUNDER http://criscancer.org/en/about-cancer/real-stories/lola-cris-founder/ LOLA, CRIS FOUNDER
- LOLA, CRIS FOUNDER http://criscancer.org/en/about-cancer/real-stories/lola-cris-founder/ A vivacious brunette with a dazzling smile, Lola had seemingly the perfect life; a beautiful family with a doting husband and two amazing little children, a highly successful career in banking that ...
LOLA, CRIS FOUNDER
LOLA, CRIS FOUNDER
A vivacious brunette with a dazzling smile, Lola had seemingly the perfect life; a beautiful family with a doting husband and two amazing little children, a highly successful career in banking that she had worked very hard for, loads of friends and a very loving extended family.
Running in her high heels through busy airports Lola soon realised she was increasingly dependent on painkillers as her legs hurt all the time. The continuous bone wrenching tiredness she felt could no longer be blamed on bringing up two energetic children and having a stressful career. So, after much procrastination when she did see a doctor, she was expecting the usual “take care of your diet”, “sleep well” or worse “take some pills”. Not even in her wildest dream could she have imagined what happened next.
She was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and was given just three months to live. If that wasn’t bad enough this form of cancer was incurable. “My world fell apart in a second. I never thought cancer would catch me. Nobody in my family had cancer. I was young, I was healthy. This cannot happen to me.” Says Lola, who still feels it is a nightmare that she is just about waking up from. “I was knocked backwards. I wasn’t prepared for cancer to happen to me. But then who is? “Asks Lola. “All the plans I had made, things I had to do or needed to do. Nothing mattered. In that second, my whole life came crashing down.”
How do you go one day from feeding your kids, putting them to bed, doing everything for them to the next where you are teaching them to live without you? Here was a mother being asked to prepare to say goodbye to her little children. All the small seemingly insignificant things that we as parents take for granted – the first day at school, the first time they climb a climbing frame, the first time they hold the pencil right or read the same book as we did…Lola was told she would not be there to experience any of these. How do you tell your children you won’t be there anymore? What story about heaven and angels will make them miss you less in their lives? Or worse still, how do you stop them from forgetting you? No mother or child should ever go through this. “There was so much I wanted to tell my children, so much I wanted to do. And this disease was going to take it all away from me.”
“I cried. I cried for what seemed like days. Because my little girl needed me not just now but when she is a teenager and when heart gets broken, when she gets married, when she has her children. As any mother is, I was supposed to help her through it all. I cried at the unfairness of not bing able to see my little boy become a strong man like his father” remembers Lola with tears in her eyes. ”I was a wreck in the initial few days” confesses Lola
You can still see the helplessness in her. But what always comes across is Lola’s steely determination. She might have been down in the first few days but she was not out. Even now running the charity, behind Lola’s smiling face lies the grit and determination of steel. Once she makes up her mind to do something there is no power in the world that will stop her. With the same determination and single minded focus, Lola went into a headlong battle with cancer. One of her greatest strength and pillar of support through it all has been her husband for many years, Diego.
“No! Lola dying just wasn’t an option for me.” Says Diego objectively. Diego had gone through this before, at the age of twenty-two, when he had lost his own mother to cancer. For thirteen years she had bravely fought against cancer. And lost. Diego was determined to not let history repeat itself. He quit his job and with the help of some friends went around the world looking new treatments and clinical trials that showed any promise for patients like Lola.
Lola was diagnosed in 2008. In 2009, she underwent a bone marrow transplant and many, many rounds of chemotherapy with the hope that it will make her better. Even if this conventional treatment did not completely cure her it was hoped it would at least extend her life expectancy by a few years. It was a new experimental treatment that actually saved her……………. or at least for now. From the middle of 2012 to 2014 she was in remission. As any cancer survivor would tell you, “You are in remission until your scan.” “Each time you go to get a scan; you don’t know what they will find. The naivety that bad things don’t happen to us is gone. You expect it to be the worst news every time. It’s like living with a time-bomb, you know it will blow just don’t know when” tells Lola.
And it did blow. In the middle of 2014 Lola went for a regular monthly scan when the doctor told her that the cancer was back. “Having the knowledge that it will come back doesn’t make it easier. You always think maybe I am an exception and it won’t come back.” With the same determination that she showed with her earlier diagnosis Lola didn’t let it stop her.
She and Diego set up CRIS contra el Cancer (CRIS against cancer) in Spain, in 2010. In 2011 Lola and Diego with their family moved to London and Lola set up the sister charity CRIS Cancer foundation UK.
This is what draws you to Lola, her unwavering conviction in her charity and its cause. She truly believes that the research funded by CRIS will change lives.
Despite the relapse, Lola wants to only look at the bright side. “Well the experimental treatment, which was at the clinical trial phase when I was diagnosed in 2009 is now available as one way to treat Multiple Myeloma. It just shows that ongoing research is needed to help find cure.” beams an excited Lola. Her enthusiasm and belief are truly infectious. October 2015, Lola was once again given the all clear. Because it is an incurable form of cancer, Lola lives with the knowledge that it will come back sooner or later.
Knowing that the experimental treatment is what gave her a new lease in life not only strengthened Lola’s belief in research but also compelled Lola and Deigo to set up CRIS in 2010.
The main objective of CRIS is: to fund scientific community:
- So no serious and ground-breaking projects get aborted because of lack of funds
- So no cancer patient would be denied a treatment save their lives.
- So treatments that have been through clinical trial are available faster to patients.
- So funds are channelled into necessary research needed to find cure for rare and underfunded forms of cancer.
A tough objective! Yes! But one that will impact not only those people who are suffering from cancer but also those who are helping them in their fight against cancer.
“I don’t want cancer to be a death sentence. I want people who get diagnosed with cancer to know and feel reassured that no matter how bad the prognosis there is still help and a cure available. Because we all need our mothers, fathers, our children, our friends, husbands and wives to complete us. CRIS is my way of trying to help families stay and grow old together”.
Lola Manterola, CRIS Foudder.