- ISABEL https://criscancer.org/en/about-cancer/real-stories/isabel/ ISABEL
- ISABEL https://criscancer.org/en/about-cancer/real-stories/isabel/ When people tell me, “What you must’ve gone through!”, I always think that, at the time, we weren’t really aware of what was happening, and, even now, it is difficult ...
When people tell me, “What you must’ve gone through!”, I always think that, at the time, we weren’t really aware of what was happening, and, even now, it is difficult to remember how bad it was, and how we suffered.
Isabel was diagnosed MLL acute myeloblastic leukaemia in March 2014. She was only seven months and six days old. Her symptoms: lack of energy, lack of appetite, pale and lifeless skin…
Suddenly, life changes, the ground opens beneath you, the world stops turning for you and your family, although it continues for everybody else, and much more…
Our daughter was struggling between life and death at the paediatric ICU of La Paz Hospital in Madrid. She was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, with 2.7 haemoglobin, more than 70% of cancer cells in her blood. In one of the cold, impersonal rooms used by the hospital to impart bad news, the doctors confirmed that Isabel had leukaemia, and that the most important thing was to keep her alive until the next day. Imagine, well, try to imagine, what parents feel after receiving this news, after spending the first night ever without their daughter… We could not even be with her in what would, perhaps, be her last hours.
But my daughter was not going to be beaten. She got through the night, amid blood and plaque transfusions, and in less than 24 hours she was out of the ICU, and the first dose of chemotherapy was already coursing through her body.
Isabel wanted to win the battle against cancer… We knew this, even after discovering, days later, that the kind of leukaemia she was suffering from was especially serious and complex, with only a 40% survival rate.
“These kids don’t usually make it,” our doctor, Dr Antonio Pérez Martínez, told us, trying to be as tactful as possible. But Isabel had other plans: in four weeks she was in remission, and was ready for her bone marrow transplant.
We now had to face another problem: we did not have a compatible donor. The kind of leukaemia she suffered from, that we suffered from -as it is more painful to have one’s child be ill than to be ill oneself- was so acute that we did not have time to wait for a compatible donor.
Thanks to certain medical research findings recently available to La Paz Hospital, Dr Antonio Pérez Martínez and Dr Purificación García de Miguel’s haematology team decided to use Laura and me as donors, in a so-called haploidentical transplant, with purging of the donor’s lymphocytes. It was a transplant specially adapted to Isabel, where I, the donor, was only 50% compatible; there was a very high risk of a side-effect called graft versus host disease, where the donor’s cells reject and attack the receiver’s body. However, it was a risk we had to run.
I won’t go into too much detail on our daily life at the hospital; suffice to say that, in the end, thanks to Isabel’s energy during the whole course of the illness, it was a success. We were always surrounded by positive energy, we believed in a miracle and waited to see a light of the end of the tunnel. We could not let Isabel face this alone, she would be fine only if we, her parents, were fine.
Isabel received my bone marrow on June 23, 2014, on St John’s Eve, a night where, according to pagan rituals, the bad is burnt out and what is good and positive is born anew. And on July 22 she was discharged from the hospital! Today we continue to fight, and hope that the illness will not resurface. We are also working to ensure that “Project Lydia”, sponsored by our physician, Antonio Pérez Martínez, from La Paz Hospital, and funded by the CRIS Cancer Foundation, may continue obtaining great results, and that all children who, until now, have not had Isabel’s luck may have the opportunity to beat the disease, may continue to dream of living happily with their families once again, far from this nightmare that is cancer.
This could have happened to any of you. What difference is there between Isabel and your own child?
Thanks for investing in research and for becoming bone marrow donors. Maybe the next Isabel will find a donor in time, and live.
Daniel, Laura and Isabel