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Posts Tagged ‘Hodgkin’

UPDATE 26.08

August 26th, 2010 admin No comments
After a difficult period of time, here comes another one. I kept quiet for the last few days, some of you probably noticed that I didn’t even reply to your emails.
 
What seemed to be a cold, maybe an infection kept me in bed for the last few days with fever, fatigue and a general bad condition.
 
Now it’s a little bit better, but it’s still not over yet.
 
And I have news again. Not good news…Because the result from the Pet-CT is not good, showing that the disease is progressing, they’ve delayed the transplant again. Another 6 to 8 weeks, this time being used for 2 chemotherapy rounds.Chemotherapy starts on  Monday, because  all of the traces of the  infection I had need to be gone in order to avoid any unnecessary complications due to my compromised immune system.
 
Why are they insisting that the disease shouldn’t be in progression when I do the transplant? Well, because in order for the cells to destroy it, the disease should be in a weak, non-active state. They need somehow to temporary stop the disease with the cumulative effect of the normally dosed chemotherapy and the high dose chemotherapy that it’s being administered in order to destroy the marrow, and in my case also with total body iradiation.
 
And because I still don’t have stem cells from an adult donor, it is impossible to keep the disease under control long enough in order to have real chances of success.
Stem cells collected from umbilical cord start to do their job  in 4 to even 6 weeks after I receive them, calculated from the moment of the transplant, (which is performed immediately after the high dose chemotherapy), and usually my disease starts advancing again after 2 maximum 3 weeks after every chemotherapy protocol we’ve tried so far.  And because of that, we are trying to find another protocol… Again..
 
Eventhough it sounds weird, there is a good part in all of this: we can keep looking for a donor. So, the testing for finding a matching donor continues. You can find all details in the post below. Same hourly schedule, same days and you will be also registered in the Registry of Stem Cell Donors.
 
Same info is required from you as before, I will do the appointments ,based on the emails I’ll receive from you on dinucristina8223@yahoo.com .
 
Thank you!
 
I’m still waiting for your emails and I want to apologize for my previous silent days. 
Talk to you soon!
Cristina
 

DETAILS ON HOW TO JOIN THE STEM CELL DONOR REGISTRY

August 15th, 2010 admin No comments
Details on how to join the Stem Cell Donor Registry
 
  1. Stage 1
 
Information
 
First, by going to the testing center, you will have to solicitate informations about what it takes to register into the stem cell donor registry, about the principles of stem cell donation, about the rights you have and about the stages you will go through. Also you will need to be informed about the stem cell harvesting procedure and you must take into consideration that, although you can change your mind any time, even after you signed the agreement form to join the registry, doing so when you are identified as a compatible donor for a patient that needs a stem cell transplantation means that there are big chances the patient will die,  ,  finding  a matching donor being extremely hard.
  1. Stage 2
 
Filling in the <agreement form and the medical questionnaire >
 
A. The agreement form
 
The agreement form contains fields where you have to fill in your personal data and by signing it :
 
1. You agree:
 
- To have a sample of your blood taken (same procedure as for any test that requires  blood sampling), in order to do the HLA typing – molecular-biology test that will determine the level of compatibility between the donor and the patient who will receive the stem cells, and also in order to have some tests that will determine if you suffer from any disease that would put the patient’s life or your life at risk.
- To join the National Stem Cell Donors Registry
- To remain registered into the registry, if possible, until the age of 60
 
 2.  You declare that you are aware of the fact that you can withdraw your consent , and as a result to  be deleted from the registry.
 
 3. You confirm that you were informed that:
 
- The donation will be voluntary, anonymous and there will be no financial rewards.
- The harvesting of the stem cells will be guided and watched over by a hematologist doctor from a specialized center   .
- You are not allowed to find out who is the patient that received your stem cells and vice versa, the patient can’t find out who is the donor
 
on very rare occasions, you might be asked to donate again, after a short period of time from the apheresis moment, for the same patient;
 
You will have to notify the registration center  any changes of your address, phone number, or significantly changes in your medical condition.
 
B. The medical questionnaire
 
Filing in the medical questionnaire helps evaluate, together with the virology tests, your medical condition at the moment of registration in order for the medical staff , in case you are compatible with a patient, to know about any particularities that could affect the harvesting process or to determine if any special measures are required during harvesting or during the transfer of the stem cells to the patient.
               
         3. Stage 3
 
Blood samples will be taken in order to perform the HLA typing and the virology  tests.
 
         4. Stage 4
 
Harvesting the stem cells
 
If you will be identified as a compatible donor for a patient in need of a stem cell transplant, a rare occurrence, (chances to be compatible with a patient are, according to statistics, 1/80 000 so some of donors are never asked to donate because of that), you will be contacted, you will be asked for your consent again, and you will be called in for a medical exam and blood tests in order to determine your health condition at that exact moment.
 
If you don’t suffer from any disease that would put your life or the life of the patient in danger, you will go through the process of marrow stimulation.  This will be done by injecting a substance called stimulation factor ( most frequently used is filgrastim, a substance that imitates the natural stimulation agent present in our bodies) that will determine the marrow to produce stem cells and then will determine those cells to migrate to the peripheral blood stream, in order for the apheresis to take place  ( the collection of the stem cells from the peripheral blood is called apheresis).
 
***Filgrastim is used based on a standardized protocol, its testing started in 1966; since then numerous clinical studies were performed, now its use is approved as a standard protocol in USA, Europe and Japan since 1991.
You can do the shots yourself after specialized training or somebody close to you can be trained to do them. Of course you have the choice to go to a medical center in order to receive the shots from specialized medical personnel.
 
Shots are administered during a couple of days, in the meantime  your blood will be tested periodically to determine if the number of the stem cells have reached the optimal number for performing the apheresis.
 
Some of the people receiving the stimulation factor accuse a mild bone pain, muscles pain, headaches, for which the doctor can prescribe painkillers.
 
The apheresis  procedure, which is similar to the blood donation procedure, has some particularities: it starts with placing a needle into the vein on each arm and then connecting the needles to the apheresis machine.
 
From one arm the blood goes out and through the  apheresis machine and returns through the needle in the other arm. During any moment of this procedure there is only a small amount of blood outside your body.
 
During the procedure you are monitored by specialized personnel.
 
You will be administered an anti-coagulant substance, in order to prevent blood clot during harvesting. You can also pay attention and request a replacement when the substance is almost depleted.
 
Also, you will be administered calcium, because the anti-coagulant is assimilated by bonding to the calcium molecules in the body and reducing the amount of calcium that is necessary to the organism, during the procedure.
 
 
 If the administered calcium dose is not enough, you will feel a mild numbness in your lips or nose, in which case you will need to tell the medical staff around you to tune up the dosage.
 
The apheresisprocedure takes between 3 and 5 hours.
 
The collection of the stem cells doesn’t  require hospitalization, when it’s done using the above procedure, most common case.
 
Before you leave the harvesting center, some routine tests will be performed on a blood sample taken just before the needles in your arms will be removed.
 
Regenerating the lost stem cells will be done by your body in a natural way with no side effects or symptoms.
 
In some very rare cases, the hematologist of the patient that will receive your stem cells could decide, based on the patient’s condition, to harvest the cells directly from the marrow.
 
The procedure, in these rare cases, will be done, if you agree with this type of harvesting, under general anesthesia in the operating room.   Harvesting is done by inserting a needle in one of the body’s large bones. Usually it’s the hip bone.
 
But I repeat, this procedure is chosen by the doctor only in rare cases, the preferred method is collecting the cells from the peripheral blood stream because it’s less invasive and it requires less recover time.
 
Some donor cell registries, from various countries, being formed long time ago when the procedure of harvesting stem cells from peripheral blood stream was not a standard, are still called Bone Marrow Donors Registry and the transplant was called bone marrow transplant.
 
 
 
Testing costs are supported by the National Registry of Donors and the costs for stem cell stimulation and harvesting are supported by the Health Ministry or, in special cases, by the patient or his insurance company.
 
What does finding a compatible stem cell donor means for the patient and his family? A new chance to live!
 
Although I never wanted to say it, this can happen to anyone, please believe me!
 
According to international statistics, in countries that have a stem cell registry, many of the cancer patients or any similar diseases, can get cured by doing the stem cell transplant.
 

List of people and details for the testing that will take place on 27.07.2010

July 26th, 2010 admin No comments
 
Thank you very much for your feedback!
 
The following people will be tested tomorrow, TUESDAY, 27.07, 10:30 AM, BUCHAREST, at the Synevo laboratory on 1 Bibescu Voda street , apartment build 4, sector 4 – near Hotel Horoscop, according to the list that was attached to the contract signed today :
 
Dinu Liviu Marian

Dinu Laura Elena

Vlaicu Alexandru

Neagu Victor

Lisievici Andreea

Mihaela Popescu

Andreescu Violeta Margareta

Andreescu Cristina

Adrian Bir Barbuliceanu

Rosca Octavian Nicolae

Paraschiv Carmen

Necula Marius

Moianu Nicoleta Madalina

Anca Tudora Mihaela

Mirela Scaunasu

Irina Senarea

Popaene Daniela

Petra Narcisa

Cruceanu Bogdan

Costea Bogdan

Iulia Craiu

Gabriela Potop Irimia

Costea Angelica

Ilie Andra Roxana

Dinu Vlad Alexandru

Barbulescu Rocsana

Cechi Cristina Valentina

Lucian Oprea

Renata Holmes

Antonio Dumitrescu

Dana Vereanu

Andra Stefanescu

Anamaria Martin

Gogarla Tiberiu Andrei

Mihai Dobos
 
We have to mention that the 35 people limit was imposed on us, but they promised that today they will try to organize another testing session for Wednesday, with a new list of people that are willing to get tested.
 
In the meantime, people from the list above are expected to show up at the specified address on Monday at 10:30 am. Test tubes with each other’s name are already prepared. !
 
You can eat and drink before the test. It won’t affect the results.
For questions and other info, the following people will be at the laboratory to help you:
 
-Cristina Pelteacu, from Synevo
-Alina Popa, a friend of mine
They will make sure everything will be ok.
 
Tomorrow you will have to sign a consent form that says you agree to be tested and 2 test tubes with your blood samples will be collected.
I’m here to answer your questions at any time.
 
For Wednesday, the list is still open, I will get back to you when I’ll have more details.
 
You can’t imagine how much all of this means to me !
Thank you very much!
 
 

We are looking for a stem cell donor that could save my life

July 25th, 2010 admin No comments
As some of you already know, I got to the point when I have to ask again for your help.
Let me inform you about the current situation.
 
I am scheduled for the transplant on 23 august 2010. Because we cannot wait any longer and because my disease cannot be controlled anymore. My sister was tested but the compatibility between us is only 50%, percent that excludes her as a donor, I wouldn’t survive a transplant with her cells.
 
So the doctors, after searching for more than one year through the international stem cell registries, advised me to start looking for a donor on my own, amongst Romanians. It seems that Romanians have better chances of finding a donor in the same geographic area.
 
I will try to explain to you what the testing is all about, but also the harvesting procedure of the stem cells, in case somebody will be found to be a compatible donor.  Because you need to know all the details before I will ask you for your help.
 
The test is named HLA typing (goggle for HLA Typing or Human Leukocyte Antigen)
 
When the testing should take place:Tuesday , 27th of july 2010, 10:30am
 
Why  now?Because the results are ready in two weeks (that’s the minimum technical required time with no administrative delays so I cannot have it sooner than 2 weeks). Only this way everything can be organized so that the blood samples will leave to the laboratory in Germany with the first and only specialized transport.
 
Why the hurry? Because on the  23rd of august I have to go through the transplant procedure, with or without an adult donor. I have already stem cells taken from 2 newborns, from the international stem cell database = 70000 E
 
Why is that not that best solution anymore?  Because in the case of a progressive disease (like mine), there are chances that after the transplant, when the immune system  is completely gone, I would need chemotherapy in order to stop the disease, in order to allow the stem cells to go towards the bone marrow, establish a base over there and eliminate  the cancer. The difference between stem cells taken from newborns and those taken from adults is that the adult ones are doing their job faster and they can bring back my immune system 2 weeks sooner. Assumed risk while doing the procedure with newborn stem cells – great, of decease….
 
 
Stage I
 
The name of the test is HLA typing . It’s a simple blood test procedure from the donor’s point of view. The complicated part is the one taking place in the laboratory because it’s a DNA analysis. It’s a test that is performed for any kind of transplant (organs, tissue or cells), in order to determine the level of compatibility between the donor and the patient.
For those who wish to find out more details about this test :http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/Fi-La/Human-Leukocyte-Antigen-Test.html.
How is it done? They collect two blood test tubes. Same as for any blood tests. Nothing special. It’s just a sting.
 
After the blood samples are taken, from the people that want to help me, they will be sent for analysis at a laboratory in Germany that co-operates with the Synevo laboratories – the only ones I could find in Romania, that were able to do this kind of testing.
 
They will do a HLA A, B and DR typing, at 1140 E for each tested person. The costs are supported entirely by my family. 
 
Anyone can be tested , no matter of the blood type. Chances to find a compatible donor are extremely low, 1/80 000 for non-related donors, but if I want to save my life I have to try this, no matter the costs.
 
We decided to do the tests in these laboratories after many failed attempts to do something similar at the Romanian Stem Cell Registry that was formed last year. Becauseit’s not functional, they don’t have funds, they don’t have the necessary substances for the test, they don’t have… Please believe me that I’ve done everything that was possible. They promised they will try to do something. They don’t know for sure what.  And most important when. And because the results are ready in two weeks  the minimum technical required time with no administrative delays, and because we know how our country is , offering us no chance , I can’t afford to wait for an answer from the specialists that are on holidays right now.  So I will have to do it on my own.
 
The registry from Vienna already offered me a series of free tests, Blue Air and Bostina si asociatiiLaw Office help me organize the plane departures from Romania .Wehave already started the testing in Vienna. Many people are expressing their wish to help me and are asking for details . Useless to say how frustrating it is to see  that you are getting help outside the country border, from strangers, rather than the home country. Although they intensively mediatize any action that has been started and not finalized . I know that many of you will say “ we have our own registry, I saw it on TV, many people from the press and our ministry Bazac were tested….”. Some of you even went there to get tested for the registration protocol with the hope that you could save somebody’s life. You know what happened with your blood? They told me it is refrigerated in the location where the test took place and they are waiting to get money allocated so they would be able to do the actual test.  So , with all the good will of everyone that got registered , the blood is not yet tested, therefore   a search in our registry, which was denied anyway or at least delayed until the person responsible for that will get back from holidays, would be useless.  And in order to find that out, to realize you need to find other ways to save your life, you have to run to different places, make lots of phone calls and pull strings for couple of weeks. I contacted every center that was supposed to be affiliated to the Registry, I’ve tried everything.
 
The only thing left for me to do is taking care of the testing myself with all the expenses that come with that, the best way I can. Only one laboratory in Romania . Bottom line : I will sign the contract with Synevo on Monday morning ; on Tuesday , 27.07.2010 everyone who wants to help will be tested .
 
You cannot be tested if :
 
- You are a minor
- You had B or C hepatitis
-You currently have A hepatitis
- You have HIV/Aids
- You have any sexually transmitted disease
 
For everyone else, the only thing required is the desire to save my life. It will cost you only 1 hour of your time, a sting and the strong commitment that if I’ll be lucky enough to be compatible with any of you, you will agree to continue with stem cell donating procedure, that I will describe in the details below, with photos taken when they’ve harvested my own stem cells for my first transplant that extended my life. If you need any more details, you can contact me anytime. It’s important to keep in mind that if we get to donating stage , this will take place in Vienna, in one of the best hospitals in Europe, where I did the transplant myself, in very good conditions, costs being supported by my family and the help I received from you.  I do trust them and I would never ask anyone to do any medical procedure in Romania, based on my personal experience.
 
About the stem cells harvesting procedure
 
Trip to Vienna and accommodation on my expense.
 
A stimulation procedure will begin using an agent called Filgrastim. This substance will be administered using injections during a couple of days until there are enough stem cells to be harvested. . I did the shots myself. The shots are not painful…just plain shots.
This stimulation also makes the stem cells migrate to the peripheral blood stream, making this procedure much easier and less riskier compared to older procedures where the cells where collected directly from the marrow by performing  a surgery.
 
During the stimulation procedure, at certain intervals, blood samples will be taken from you , in order to determine if there are enough stem cells in order for the apheresis to start. When the number is optimal , the stimulation procedure stops and the apheresis  starts.
 
Collecting the stem cells is done by having two needles inserted in a vein of each arm . Those are connected to a collecting device, which uses acentrifuge,that collects and counts the stem cells. Blood goes back into the system through the other needle.
 
The procedure is not painful at all, just not very comfortable because it takes a few hours and during that time the donor has to stand still until there are enough stem cells collected.
 
If we manage to get to the phase where the collecting of the cells would be possible, which I hope we will, the risks are minimum, same as having an  infusion.
 
You are monitored during the whole procedure, and you will be administered calcium to replace the one you lose while having the anticoagulation substance in your blood ( needed for obvious reasons  - not to have your blood clotted in the collecting device)
 
I  had no problems during this procedure.
 
After collecting the cells you will be sent home . Your cells will be given to me and they will save my life. You won’t miss them because the ones you donate are fresh cells and you will still have the adult cells to protect you. And stem cells regenerate after only a  few days.
 
This procedure is frequently done in all the civilized countries, there are impressive statistics regarding how many human lives were saved per year using the stem cell transplant. And the risks of the procedure are not greater than those from a regular injection or infusion.
 
I hope I will be one of those saved by this type of transplant, I still believe in my chance and that’s why I’m asking for your help.
 
So, I NEED A DONOR!
 
If you want to try save my life, and you are determined to go all the way with the procedure, please contact me at dinucristina8223@yahoo.com as soon as possible.
 
I need  list of persons ( name , address, personal numeric code, phone number, email – in order for them to label the test tubes and in order to be able to contact you), until early morning on Monday.
 
I repeat, tests are done on Monday, 27.07.2010, 10:30 am, Bucharest. The exact location will be announced on the blog on Monday morning. (It will be somewhere around PiataUnirii)
 
I can also get help from people who already took this test and have their results.
 
Also any kind of sponsorship is helpful!
 
To those in need,I’m posting my sister’s test results. She’s willing to save a life anytime.
 
Thank you!
 
 

ANOTHER STEP AND MOVING FORWARD

March 14th, 2010 admin No comments
Once again, I don’t know where to start. Once again, so many things happened since my last post therefore I’m not sure in which order I should tell you everything that happened lately.
First of all , I want to thank you from my heart for your help, for everything ! I have managed to raise the amount of money that was lacking, money  needed in order to pay for my transplant. I cannot express how thankful I am.
Also, I want to thank everyone that   made possible the charity concert that took place on the 10th of March, in Jukebox Club. I would like to thank to all of my new gained friends, to the people who organized the event, to all the artists that agreed to sing  for me, and also to the artists who, due to the lack of time and Thank you very much to all my new friends, thank you very much to all those that helped organize the concert , to the artists that accepted to sing for me at this event and to those artists that, due to lack of time and lack of space on the poster,  agreed to participate at  the event as guests.  I would also like to thank to all the media and mass media representatives involved.
Many thanks from the bottom of my heart to all of you who attended this event and thank you so much CRISTINA ! But this is another story !
I will stop for now, otherwise you will tell me that I’m not at the Oscars. But you can imagine how all of this makes me feel, once again.
 
Now you could say “ ok , you have the money, so  you can do the transplant anytime now” . Well , I wish it would have been that easy. Unfortunately, in the meantime, the disease started to fool around, it’s in progression again as deducted from the Pet-CT scan that  was supposed to be the last examination of that kind before the transplant. And because a transplant made while the disease is in progression would be  uneffective, the doctors decided we need to stop the disease again with two more chemotherapy cycles ( two would be ideal , maximum three) .
 
Also, the doctors have decided to perform another biopsy, to reconfirm the diagnosis, before the transplant . A reasonable measure considering the fact that my disease doesn’t react quite tipically, so it has to be checked before every big step. I was diagnosed in august 2008, they reconfirmed the diagnosis in 2009 through another biopsy ( two histopathologists confirmed the diagnostic independently) and now they want, again, recent certainty.
Last night I was discharged from the  clinic where I underwent surgery  on Wednesday, surgery performed in order to extract a suspect lymph node that will be used for a new histopathology  analysis . Here it takes one week for the results to be ready.
I am feeling ok after the surgery , they have a brilliant surgeon here . It’s his fourth surgery performed on me , with no after-surgery complications and with almost no visible scars ( not that I would care about that right now, but in a few years , while on the beach, it will matter ! J )
 
So basically the plan is as follows :
 
-         We have to wait till Wednesday or Thursday for the  wound to heal ( I have a drain – a tube and a plastic bottle with a vacuum – responsible for collecting the lymphatic and interstitial  liquid until healing , in order to avoid any complications) .
-         On Wednesday or on Thursday , depending on the surgeon’s recommendation, I will start the first round of chemotherapy – three days will be spent in the hospital , two consecutive ones and another one on the 8th day of the chemotherapy round.  I will be going through two rounds of chemotherapy after which we will
-         Re-evaluate the situation based on a clinical exam, ultrasounds and, if necessary, a MRI.   As soon as the disease will be stopped from progression we’ll get to the
-         TRANSPLANT
We hope and we estimate that all should take around two months, considering the fact that one chemo round lasts between 3 weeks and a month , depending on how fast the cells recover after chemotherapy.
You are probably wondering “what if the disease doesn’t stop”. If the disease doesn’t stop, we’ll use another type of chemo. There are two alternative chemo treatments that proved to be effective in my current situation. The disease is at first sensitive to the chemotherapy, and because of that we’ll do everything in an alert pace, in order have the best results. And besides that, THE DISEASE WILL STOP !
Enough, I won’t  bother you any longer with technical details.
 
Until now I avoided to post about this stage of the treatment on the blog because I wanted to make sure that from a legal point of view it won’t negatively affect my medical file that’s being reviewed by the Public Health Committee. I have analyzed the current situation, together with doctors, friends and colleague  lawyers and we came to the conclusion that my file is, from a medical and legal point of view, beyond any form of criticism. Accordingly, I have told you the story and I’m waiting, along with my friends and with you beside me, the Committee’s response.
 
I end my story here, not before I’ll make the ferm promise to keep you updated and to do everything in my power in order to win the battle against this disease, as well as you did everything you could to help me in this battle !
 
Thank you!
 

UPDATE 2nd of march

March 3rd, 2010 admin No comments

I think I got my good share of luck. I always liked to think this way, even during these past 2 years and I have my reasons to say that.
One of those reasons would be that, as you probably already noticed, a week and a half ago I only had 15 000 EUR out of the total amount of 80 000 EUR so much needed for the transplant.
I was already picturing myself having to discuss with the doctors the possibility of delaying the transplant which, in normal conditions, would had meant a delay of a at least one month , meaning the time needed for another patient to make a transplant and to recover .
Now I have 62 000 out the total of 80 000 needed.
I cannot express how happy I was when I saw that you didn’t give up when the odds of collecting the entire amount were dropping! And I thank you for that!

The second reason for considering myself lucky is that while I was already seeing myself telling the doctors that I will delay the payment hence the delay of the transplant, having to face a “that’s fine, but we’ll put another patient into the transplant procedure, until you are ready” which can be translated in a delay of at least one month, I was surprised when the doctors brought me, one day ago, without any intervention from my side, some good news. We have to delay initiating the procedure for a couple of days until some of the test results are available to them. This delay was due to a very busy period they are going through at the Pet-CT department, thus they managed to make an appointment only for yesterday at 5 PM. So, another chance to get all the money in time.
Sure, they can tell me anytime in the following days like “Here are the results. Let’s talk and then have the transplant “…if I have the money into the hospital’s account. If not, I might have to face the delay I was talking about, which I really wouldn’t want or need to happen.

I wanted to let you know that I managed to extend the time period during which I can receive donations by sms using all of the three mobile phone operators until the 14th of March. Romtelecom phone numbers are also still available. These methods of donating are only available from Romania.
I want to thank you for everything! For your good thoughts, for forwarding to your friends my emails and my problems, for forwarding my cry for help! Thank you so much!
I am still 18 602 EUR short. I might need them tomorrow or on Friday… I’m not sure when…
All I know is that I still need a helping hand. And I know that you will lend it to me.

***
On a different topic, I have to say that……I finally got home! After 10 month of staying in Vienna forced by the undertaking treatment and its follow-ups, I got to see my room, my cats and my stuff. I didn’t think I would have enough time to fit in again and to feel sorry for having to leave again. But there was enough time for that to happen. The initial plan was to stay for 4 days and I ended staying 10. It was great. Home is home. With all the irony of the situation…thank you, doctor, for saying you had to see me for half an hour.
But since we are already on this subject I have to say that I truly regret the fact that I still have to put up with situations when I need to explain myself to certain people that I went to Vienna not because I was a spoiled kid, that it wasn’t for the “luxurious accommodations” over there that I decided to go back and forth Bucharest-Vienna from August 2008 until April 2009 and then to decide to stay in Vienna starting with April 2009 until present. It’s not ok to have your family close to you only by making them sacrifice their day to day life. Everything seems so …broken, believe me! Sure, it’s a nice city, very civilized, clean, but you don’t get the chance to find any joy in that, I assure you. You only feel that huge frustration coming from the fact that you are, against your will, banished from your own country. It wasn’t only the cancer that “suspended” my life, it was also the fact that I cannot get the appropriate treatment in my own country, closer to what I call “home”. So, please, before you start blaming me just try to walk a mile in my shoes!

To end this discussion in the same manner I always have, I thank you all for everything and wish you a beautiful, healthy and colorful spring! I wish the same for myself but for the next spring!

Kind regards
Cristina Dinu

PS – The doctors had to finally admit that this transplant procedure cannot be performed in our country, and now the authorities have to admit the same thing as well. I owe you this info but, without getting into details, I assure you that I did everything that could have been done and I would had never asked for your help before I knew for sure that I cannot count on the authorities to aprove my request and pay for the transplant in time for me to get the procedure done, while there is still time. I will keep you posted!

My story…and something more

February 5th, 2010 admin No comments

It all started in 2008. I don’t know for what reason it did, but I stopped thinking about that question. I barely remember how it started. Lots of things happened since .

I only remember that my shoulder hurt, that I visited many doctors an that I was scared. The doctors , extremely relaxed, were telling me that I’m fine and I can go home and enjoy life, because that is what a 25 year old should do. I was never too hypochondriac, so I don’t know how or where did I find all the perseverance to keep seeing all those doctors , one after another, asking for a diagnosis.

I took their advices couple of times, but the pain didn’t care about what the doctors were saying or about my age. Without even knowing how and when, I found myself, after 6 months, in a medical clinic in Vienna, ( lucky me !, and please believe me when I say that, although I wished it wouldn’t be the case, I have enough arguments) mentally preparing myself  for the following day, when I was supposed to go through a  lymph node extraction surgery, because  the biopsy was the only way they could  confirm a lymphatic cancer diagnosis, which, they said, seemed almost a sure thing considering the symptoms and the blood test results.

It’s not a surprise anymore that in august 2008 the diagnosis was confirmed. Lymphatic cancer, (Hodgkin disease), stage IIB, Bulky.

 I immediately started the standard chemotherapy treatment recommended  by the hemato–oncologist in Vienna.

For my family all this was devastating. For me it was like an  earthquake. There are plenty of words that can describe the feelings I had , but they all seem empty now.

Also, its not a surprise anymore that my disease proved to be outside the statistics that were saying that 90% of  people with my type of disease are cured after the first line of standard treatment. 

I tried almost all chemotherapy protocols that are used to cure my type of cancer, I also “served” a strong dose of radiation therapy. Another lymph node biopsy. I tried also to “enjoy” a marrow absorption from the hip bone.

Considering all this, my disease, even if it did respond to chemotherapy for a while, got stubborn and decided to show me who’s the boss. And it managed to transform me from the perfect candidate  of a complete remission through standard treatment into a perfect candidate for an autologous stem cell transplant .

But, although I wouldn’t imagine that, taking into consideration the fact that I was a spoiled kid, I realized that I can be stubborn too. And I also realized the fact that I can be stronger, that I have only one “malfunction” (a major one, it’s true), but I am also equipped with a whole set of organs and systems that can fight, that can help me and that are on my side in this war against the disease.  The doctor was telling me the same thing, to think about the fact that I have a problem but beside that, I also have many healthy and strong organs.

I decided to finish this battle as a winner. And to be patient, if that’s required too. And to refuse to let anyone or anything stop me.  I’ve always had goals to reach but  none of them was so important like this one. So I decided to win …for me, for the loved ones, or just in order to beat the statistics…

I accepted the fact that in order to be able to fight the disease, I needed money, and in order to obtain the needed amount of money, I had to ask people for help, even if this seemed like a weakness, a lack of common sense, stepping on my ego, anything I can think of except the right thing to do. And still, I asked for help and I got it.

I think that what happened in August last year was like a true miracle. Solidarity, compassion, care and help – all of these granted unconditionally to me – a complete stranger to most of them. This experience changed my personal values and my way of thinking forever. In the best way possible. I don’t want to exaggerate, but I think I was given life and friends. People that, not only helped me financially when I was out of options, but  people that I felt close to me when I was hospitalized for the transplant and after, in the recovery period. I was reading my mail almost daily and there were lots of questions, every one of them was having ME as a subject, how am I, how do I feel. Everyone was so close to me, praying for me, comforting me and believing in me. Thank you so much! I’m telling you, without any exaggeration, that you can never imagine how much it meant for me what you all did during those moments!

With your help I managed to start fighting the disease and to go through the first transplant. I did the transplant on the 16 th of October 2009 – a new birthday, as the doctors were telling me. And I even got a gift: the transplant. This helped me to get again a few steps ahead of the disease and to be able now to make plans for a second transplant, that even if the first one didn’t get my disease into remission, as we all hoped.  The first transplant managed to slow down the disease and gave me another chance to get back into the battle.  It gave me a couple more priceless months .

Looking back, although it’s not yet the moment to do that, I realize that I’ve been through a lot, that it was difficult, and that I’ve dragged the loved ones along with me through all this. But I realize that all this is worth it, not that I would ever doubt it. Any sacrifice, every pain and any won battle is surely worth the effort. I don’t want to pity myself or shiver in fear. I will stand tall and go forward.

I have one more step to take. A big step. A transplant. An experimental one. Experimental because they didn’t manage to find me a matching donor and they are forced to use umbilical cord stem cells as an alternative option. A transplant that is harder to bear, riskier, and more invasive than the previous one. But its my last chance against the disease. It’s my last card to play. My life  is at stake .

I didn’t start to write this story on the basis that I’m some sort of a talented writer or because I thought it’s a good story. But I also didn’t write it with a total lack of interest. I tried to expose my story from the beginning with the hope that this way, I can convince you one more time to offer me your help.

Because I still need help. For me, even this last card has a price tag. 140 000 Euros from which I lack 80 000 Euros. I realize, it’s a huge amount, but my life is at stake! And I can’t and I won’t give up now. I know that I can be cured, I know that I’m in good hands and I also know that things can change!

This is the reason I am writing to you. I’m trying to convince you that I deserve your help one more time. That I can’t give up the idea of winning the war after so many battles that I won. I want to be cured. I want to get back home, I want my life back. And of course I have big plans and dreams, but at this moment I wont start making any promises. I promised myself and I know I will keep my word.

But I need a chance! I need my life!

Categories: 1. ABOUT ME Tags: , ,