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Goodbye Frantz (P1)

July 24, 2017

  

Leer en español

 

My last battle against Frantz (that's how I call my ex-cancer) was more difficult and painful than I imagined. I would lie to you if I told you that I was optimistic or in a good mood all the time, because the truth is that I lived terrible days and I must confess that one night I wanted to give up. However, today, one month and nine days after the second surgery, I can say that I am extremely HAPPY I didn't. 

 

This experience has changed me. The Majo I was before cancer no longer exists. I'm not saying that I felt unsatisfied with who I was before and in fact, my personality is still the same; but thanks to the wake up call that Frantz and life gave me, I am sure that I'll be a better person, more present and able to fulfill all my dreams. Today, I have a better vision of life and I am very grateful for the quality of people I am lucky to call family and friends.  

 

Before cancer, I had a good life. After cancer, I know that a better life awaits me. And I feel extraordinarily blessed for my second chance at life. WITH 24 YEARS, I am more conscious than ever that the only purpose of life is to enjoy it.   

 

 

I'M OFFICIALLY PART OF THE 5% OF PANCREATIC CANCER SURVIVORS 

 

 

The plan to get rid of my cancer was the same from the beginning. Without chemo and with two enormous operations, I got rid of pancreatic cancer forever. Three months after the diagnosis, I said goodbye to Frantz Tumor and its metastases, the unwanted tenants of my body.  

 

In the first operation, which was on April 5, I did very well and suffered reasonably, so I assumed that I would feel the same in the second operation. And there is the problem of assuming, because my assumption could not be further from what was really expecting me. 

 

For some strange reason, the closer the second surgery was getting, I began to feel anxious. I've never felt anxiety before and now the cancer was abusing it. In those days, my thoughts were obsessive and catastrophic, so I constantly fought against my own mind to stop thinking that my days in this world were numbered and that more than getting healed, I was about to die.    

 

 

JUNE 15

 

 

On June 15, before I arrived to the ABC de Observatorio hospital, I felt as if I was preparing to go on a trip and knew in advance that my destiny was going to be ugly and uncomfortable and the stay long.  

 

Once more, before entering my second surgery, my room filled with dear family and friends. However, this time I didn't feel so ready and confident for the operation, I was nervous and when the stretcher-bearers and nurses came for me, I cried.  

 

Now, probably what I'll tell you next may not be so accurate to what really happened, but that's how I remember it. 

 

 

My fears were not totally unfounded. Liver operations are risky because it bleeds easily and its complications can lead to death. Nevertheless, I had the best medical team in Mexico (Francisco Moreno (infectologist), Carlos Chan (surgeon specialized in pancreas and liver), Eduardo Etulain (anesthesiologist), Francisco Vélez (general surgeon), Ismael Domínguez (surgeon) and Dr. Paulino (anesthesiologist specialized in liver)), so hardly anything would go wrong.   

 

I left the second surgery better than expected. Chan, with his magic hands, had once again operated me perfectly well. The operation was done in a short time, without the need for blood transfusions and my liver had behaved very good. Anyway, I was taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to be under the greatest surveillance.   

 

Here I am in the ICU after Ieaving the second surgery. 

 

 

WAS IT DAY OR NIGHT? I don't remember. I just know that I felt alone and that I was having a bad time, a very bad time and it was only worsening. I was thirsty and a nurse told me that I couldn't drink water yet, but she agreed to give me a little bit through a gauze pad.  

 

I was killing time between dreams and awake, when suddenly I began to feel a lot of pain. I felt as if 1,000 knives were getting trough me at the same time and the pain became so intense that all I could do was try to hold on.  

 

Later I was told that it was night (about 8 pm), when a group of residents realized that I began to bleed internally and that was the cause of my indescribable pain. Immediately, they contacted Chan and the rest of the team that had operated me in the second surgery. And what I am about to tell you, will convince you that I HAD AND HAVE THE BEST MEDICAL TEAM IN MEXICO

 

As I told you, it was night, the surgery had been a success and I had been stable most of the day. Since I was in ICU and there was nowhere to sleep, most of my relatives had already gone to rest and the doctors to finish their pendings. 

 

Eduardo Etulain (the best anesthesiologist in the world and who always took care of my pain), after my successful surgery had gone to Querétaro to the operation of his mom and was with her when they called him to tell him that I would be operated in emergency. Etulain, without thinking twice, said that he wanted to be my anesthesiologist and drove back to Mexico City.   

 

Chan was also about to leave to Querétaro to attend an event he had when the residents called him. He also cancelled his plans and hurried to the hospital.  

 

While the COMPLETE TEAM that had operated me on the second surgery (Carlos Chan, Eduardo Etulain, Francisco Vélez, Ismael Domínguez, Dr. Paulino) and my uncle and doctor, Paco Moreno, arrived to the hospital, I was taken to a CT scan to try to discover where the bleeding was coming from. 

 

They moved me in bed to the CT scan. I remember that I was feeling a lot of pain, impotence, despair and I didn't understand why I felt so bad if I had already eliminated Frantz.

 

When I got to the room where the machine was and they passed me to the table, it hurt so much that I felt out of air, my eyesight went more blurry and I thought I had reached my limit of pain. Besides, in this study you are asked to raise both arms to the sides of the head, but I could only raise the left.      

 

AND SOMETHING WEIRD HAPPEN TO ME AT THAT POINT. The pain was consuming me and I knew I had to think of something else to keep my thoughts away from the pain because the more I wanted to fight it, the worse I felt. So I started to think about the stories of exceptional people whose pain made them stronger, I wondered what they had in common and I was able to understand that, if you really want to be happy, you will be happy, no matter what situation you are in. 

 

That's how I was. Lying on a hard table, feeling the hot liquid of the contrast running through my veins and thinking about this, when I completely accepted the situation and stopped fighting it. This allowed me to ignore the pain a little and almost automatically, I started to feel a little bit better.

 

My doctors were very worried. They feared that the bleeding was coming from my liver because that could complicate my case... too much. Furthermore, Chan was angry because he was convinced that it was almost impossible for it to be the liver (he had done a great job) and bet a dinner to the residents who were telling him it was the liver.  

 

The CT scan confirmed that I had an internal bleeding and that I had to have an emergency surgery. At this point, my team of doctors had already arrived to the ABC and they, without knowing it, had shown me their great commitment to me, their huge heart and were about to save my life... again. 

 

 

EMERGENCY OPERATION

 

 

On June 16, one day after Chan cut my liver's metastases and helped me get rid of the cancer in my body forever, I had my third and last surgery to repair the damage caused by Frantz.

 

I remember that when they were moving me to the operating room (OR), I saw my dad, my mom, Paola (my sister) and Alfredo (my boyfriend) leaning against the wall and I could notice in their faces the concern they felt. At that moment, I wanted to say goodbye to them, tell them something nice, but I wasn't able to ask the stretcher-bearer to stop the bed because although the pain was killing me, I was very tired and in a bad mood, I knew that if I did, I'll probably won't come back... and I didn't want to leave that to chance.  

 

As you know, since the beginning I've known that I want to live, and I was sure that if I could make clear to the Universe what I wanted, it would be that way. 

 

I entered the OR and felt a lot of pain when they passed me to the surgical table. The relaxed and "casual" atmosphere of the other two surgeries was not there. Everyone was tense and worried (although they did not tell me anything).

 

"Why are you worried, Chan?", I asked. "No, I'm not worried, you do not worry either. Go to sleep and it will be over soon, you will not notice", he answered me something like this and made me feel better.

 

I crossed myself because in the hurry my mom hadn't had time to do it and Etulain assured once more that I was deeply asleep. 

 

While I was in surgery, people began to spread the word that they would give me blood transfusions and I needed 12 donors. On June 17, 34 people came to give me the blood and platelets I needed. (And seizing the occasion, I want to thank all those who came, being able to donate or not, to give me such important thing. Many thanks to: Gabriela Rodríguez, Erik Barba, Miguel Ángel Berrones, Alfredo del Olmo, Martín Careaga, Priscilla López, Giancarlo Vecchi, Rodrigo Careaga, Martín Eugenio Careaga, Claudia Salas, Mauricio Mieres, Christopher Critchett, Álvaro Antonio González, Mariana Rosete, Raúl Alfredo Ramo, Ricardo Alonso, Gabriela Goñi, Alejandro López, Héctor Rivas, Mauricio Schiavón, Daniela Dávila, Paulina Rivera, Alejandro Escalante, Esteban Sahagun, Andrea Leblanc, Andrea Limón, Alfredo García, Lucía Moreno, Axel Martínez, Gilberto Parra, Andrés Azpiri, Jorge Malagón, Eduardo Fidel López y Daniel Arturo Gómez).       

 

Indeed, Chan had been right. Yes, there had been a huge internal bleeding that, if the residents did not detect on time, could have caused my death. But it hadn't been the liver... and there was no better news than that. 

 

It all had been caused by a FUCKING ARTERY (the only "bad word" my dad has heard Chan say when he got out of the emergency operation) that had burst when the drain was set. 

 

 

AND I RETURNED TO THE T-4 INTENSIVE CARE ROOM

 

 

After the emergency operation, I relived the same day over and over again. Time passed and I felt that I wasn't improving and that I wasn't going to improve. I was very discouraged, I was still in a lot of pain and I felt very alone (remember that I am used to a large and united family) because the visits were very short (lasting 30 minutes), there was a lot of time between them and they only let in one person at a time.  

 

Also, when you have horrible and intense pains, five minutes seem like 20. I know the nurses tried to take care of me as best they could (or so I hope), but I really felt that they did not pay much attention to me and almost always forgot to put the ringer nearby.  

 

My room was next to the nurse's nursery and I always heard them talking. Sometimes when the discomfort became unbearable (and I did not have the ringer nearby), I would gather all my strength to try to get help. "Help! Help me!" and NOT ONE TIME somebody answered me. Yelling to be "heard" was extremely painful and seeing that no one came to help, made me feel a lot of resentment.   

 

Luckily, I had been given the chance to have my cell phone in the room to put the relaxing music that helped me to feel better, so it also worked for me to accuse the nurses with my parents. What I did was write to them and they from the outside made sure the nurses knew and helped me with what I needed. 

 

As you can imagine, this situation instead of helping me was only making me more and more angry. Here is a picture for you to understand how bad my mood was, haha:

 

 

Due to everything, the memory of my days in ICU is somewhat blurry, so I can't tell you exactly the chronology of things, but in one of these days, I had my first trip.  

 

As I've been telling you, I was in an unbearable agony despite the medication bombings that were being administered to me, so I'm almost sure that doctors increased the doses because suddenly I felt the effects of morphine and I had MY FIRST TRIP

 

>>My heart started beating very fast and very hard. ¡Pum, pum, pum, pum, pum! I got tachycardic and in a few seconds I went from a very intense pain to feel a little drunk. The room illuminated with a very white light, I started to feel giggly and suddenly, I felt extremely happy. I saw Chan next to my bed and I felt like I was inside a dollhouse, where I was the little doll and the doctors the normal size people. Suddenly, Chan started to grow big and small, big and small, and all I could think of to say was: "Long live the drugs!!!" and I think I got the moral-hangover, because I also told him that I had never used drugs before and that this was the first time. Afterwards, I entered the sentimental phase. I confessed to Chan that I loved him very much and he told me that he loved me too. And I don't want to show off (a little bit yes, haha), but he also told me that I am his favorite patient (I'm sorry other Chan patients). Additionally, since I was still having blood bags and I was drugged, I felt like a stoned vampire. Finally, I was invaded by a sensation of an immense peace... which only lasted 5 seconds.<<

 

Three days after being on ICU, I was allowed to middle therapy. And that meant two things: 1) I was getting better and 2) I could spend more time with my loved ones... AND HOW IMPORTANT ARE OUR LOVED ONES! 

 

*** 

 

Since I have many things to tell you and I don't want the post to be so long that is boring to read, I will have to divide the end of my battle against cancer in three parts. We as Mexicans love gossip and drama with happy endings, and the good thing about the rest of my story is that it has much gossip and spoiler alert!, much drama with a happy ending.

 

I was cured thanks to teamwork, good vibes, gossip, my loved ones and my desire to continue living. INFINITE THANKS TO ALL who were with me in this process, I could never thank you enough and you will always be the most important people in my life. Although I can not name you all (and you perfectly know who you are), I want to thank you for cheering me up every day, taking care of me and helping me endure the month I spent in the hospital.     

 

And before I start writing cheesy things (which I avoid because it does not go with me), I leave you. But I promise that it won't be long before you know the second and third part. 

 

Fondly,

 

Majo.   

 

 

 

 

                

 

 

 

 

 

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