This is the story of my work colleague Gabriela Lucan, a woman full of life who always puts smiles on our faces irrespective of the way we fell at the moment. Gabriela has been shortly the victim of the Romanian medical system, but God offered a solution to save her life and to try to live normally. I kindly ask you to try and help her with donations also by informing all your friends about her situation. Thank you!
Life before and after 13….
Before the 13th of November 2009…
My name is Gabriela Lucan and I will be turning 42 in April 2010, according to my identity document. If I were to listen only to my heart, I think I am only 18-20 years old.
I have spent all my life with energy, joy, many travels and new experiences with my loved ones. Many pictures, trips to new locations, the company of my friends and forever summer days under the sun on Greek’s beaches. And all this seems to have stopped on a November 13th, 2009.
How did all this start? A simple pain in my left beast on the 25th of October 2009, without any explication that I could find at the time. The pain taunted me all night because I felt rather a strong burn and twinges every once and a while, just like knife stings.
The following morning I made an appointment with my family doctor, trying to find out what was the matter. Doctor Surugiu Elena from Medlife Medical Center scheduled me immediately for an echography, mammography and gynecologist consult. And this is how the nightmare started, the worst one so far.
On the evening of October 28th , 2009 I went to Medlife for my echography. What was on the screen in front of me while the Doctor was performing the 4D echography just left me agape. There were numerous suspicious formations on my left breast, as the conclusions of the echography mentioned, significant in size and with a scratchy aspect. I asked the Doctor Pitiga Simona how bad it was and she said that the image was not that good and she couldn’t confirm or infirm that it was cancer. Other investigations are necessary to determine the real diagnosis and to see what to do next.
On the following day, the 29th of October 2009, I went to Medlife again, this time for a mammography – the same result and the same answer. The problem started to grow and become serious especially after November 2nd 2009, when I went to a gynecologist for a consult and I was told again that is was serious and that whatever the situation (cancer or not), it needed to be operated to remove the three rather large formations (with diameters over 2cm). I decided to see a surgeon also, so on the 4th of November 2009 I went to the Military Hospital to Dr. Nicodin Ovidiu to find out his opinion. Just like the other doctors, he recommended an immediate surgery and even scheduled me for the 9th of November 2009, on a Monday.
What can I say, I had never undergone surgery before… I was terrified to be cut open and to undergo complete anesthesiology. A couple of times I even thought I might be unlike enough not to wake up, but a tried to bring myself together and be brave and imagined I wasn’t going to be one to die, given all the people that go through the procedure.
Monday, on the 9th of November 2009, a day after celebrating my name day, Saint Michael and Gabriel’s Day, I went to the Military Hospital and I was prepared for the surgery scheduled for the same day. In the room where I waited to be taken into the operation room there were many patients, each with her own problems and, taking a look around, I actually though that what I was about to go through was a lot simpler than what the other women in the room with me had.
I was finally taken into the operation room… I was told that during the operation an analysis of the removed tissues was performed and the results showed it was cancer. The largest formations, three in number, were also the most painful ones and they were removed, but from the nodules in the armhole that were also attacked by cancer only one, the most swollen, was removed.
The second day, after the morning rounds, I was discharged because the hospital had very poor conditions – food consisted in bread and margarine and you had to bring your own food if you wanted to eat something else. However, a week after the operation my breast was swollen again, as if everything that had been removed from the inside had grown back on. I panicked. In the meanwhile I was informed that the results of the post-operation histopathological tests were ready. On the 13th of November 2009 I went to receive the said results. When I read what was written on the papers – invasive mammary ductal carcinoma – the whole sky fell down on me.
I had the feeling that this is how far my life would go, that I would die just like my father in my 40s and that I was sentenced to death. I kept wondering why me, what had I done wrong an why now when my life was in order and I had finally found a place in the world??
After November the 13th, 2009…
I cried and had gloomy thoughts all that long day of November the 13th. I was thinking how to put everything in order because I was going to die and I was thinking about all the things i wanted to do but I no longer had time for. For example, visit Venice or any other place. Time became dilated and a period of 2-3 months or “until summer” seemed forever and made me wonder if I would get to live that long.
However, the second morning I started a new day and decided to change my attitude. I saw the situation I was in like a one way street and I had no other choice but to keep walking. I started being agitated, making telephone calls, trying to find out what I had to do, because nothing of what was about to come was clear to me.
Soon I panicked again after making a telephone call to the Victor Babes Institute where I was told that the result of the paraffin block analysis would take a month and a half, while the Fundeni Hospital was scheduling me for chemotherapy without any preliminary analysis. I kept asking what is going on in this country? Why are things done so slowly?? Do I really have to die because no one is really interested in doing their job?
In my despair I was talking to everyone about my problem, hoping that someone would tell me what to do. And someone did. I colleague sent me to speak to another colleague of mine, Dan Santimbreanu and ask him whether he knew what someone in my situation should do, where to go, because the information in my mind at the time was rather confusing. Dan recommended a clinic in Turkey, called Anadolu and that it was affiliated with Johns Hopkins.
It is near Istanbul and apparently it is the best in Europe from the point of view of the services offered. They also have a very interesting site at the following address: www.anadolusaglik.org Dan contacted them immediately via VIP MED, sending my analyses on e-mail and requesting an evaluation. Anadolu replied immediately, along with the solution. I was to see them for a consult and analyses in order to determine the exact diagnosis and the disease’s level of complexity and, depending on the results, the therapy was to be established.
This is when the financial problem occurred. This miserable cancer caught me in a very bad financial situation and the amounts estimated by the ones in Anadolu exceeded by far my financial possibilities. Panic took hold of me because I saw my path to follow getting narrower and “the light at the end of the tunnel” fading away.
At that moment however a helping hand came – the management of the company I work for decided to sponsor the costs of this treatment, initially estimated at 20.000 Euros (tests + treatment). I thank them from my heart for this decision and for the speed with which they arranged everything for me to leave immediately for Istanbul.
My colleagues also helped me significantly financially, they raised many for me, which impressed me enormously and I thank them with all my heart for their support. This is how my struggle for life started, lasting probably months to come and I trust it will have a happy ending.
In the afternoon of November 19th 2009 I left for Otopeni airport where I was to fly to Istanbul. On arriving a hospital car was waiting for me, taking me to the hotel. In the morning, on the 20th of November, I went to the Anadolu Medical Center for preliminary tests. I undertook a general examination, full blood tests, CET-CT scan and I also left the paraffin block to be tested.
Monday morning, the 23rd of November, the results came (very fast, right?) and I also had my first meeting with Prof. Dr. Necdet Uskent. Results showed I had third degree cancer and, in addition to what I already knew, I was a couple of steps away from metastasis. It also spread to the base of my throat and was to spread to other parts of my body had the intervention not been on time.
Given the situation, Dr. Uskent suggested I postpone my plane ticket and to have the first chemotherapy session on the 24th of November. Time was very precious now and not a day could be wasted. I postponed my plane ticket and the following day, on the 24th of November 2009, I had the first chemotherapy session in my life.
I can say that it was not at all pleasant. A had a very nasty allergic reaction and they almost had to resuscitate me, but after one hour of rest treatment restarted and this time it was bearable. The conditions in the medical center are extraordinary and the people working there are professionals and very friendly.
You never have the feeling that you are in a hospital, the unfortunate situation in Romania… After the chemotherapy session ended, I met the nutritionist. I had to know from now one what I was allowed to eat and what was forbidden. This had me thinking about a very important aspect that in my country is missing, that is doctors’ team work.
Everything here in Anadolu is teamwork. There is even an authorized interpreter accompanying every patient to each doctor and taking care of all details starting from the car sent to the airport, hotel booking and how to spend your free time in Istanbul should you want to. Admirable and extraordinary. In the waiting rooms there are leaflets in Romanian and TVs with TVR International… This is a standard that Romania will reach in over 100 years, I think.
And this is how my efficient fight against cancer started. Every 21 days I have a chemotherapy session in Anadolu. After four sessions there will be an evaluation, consisting of a new PET-CT, mammography, blood tests and echography. I am already at my 4th chemotherapy session, on the 26th of January 2010, and after 21 day the evaluation will come. Depending on the results of the evaluation the next steps will follow – be it a new operation, or radiotherapy, the decision will be taken on the spot depending on the results of this evaluation.
For the moment, except for approximately 5 days after each session when I feel dreadful due to side effects, I feel good. I actually gained 4 pounds and I started to see once again the light at the end of the tunnel, as they say. Starting with the 10th day after each session I am actually good, as I was before the disease. I am not the least bothered by my lack of hair, because I have a very nice wig and, between you and me, this is the least of my problems. If it were the only problem, I would be happy.
For my personnel peace of mind, on the 16th of January 2010 I went to Medlife again, from my own initiative, to have a mammary echography at my right breast after three chemotherapy sessions. The results pleased me because one can see real progress since I started therapy, so I am on the right path.
The joy I had from this news was shadowed by the financial problem that now came back. The initial estimate for the treatment is far from reality.
From the initial approximate cost of 20.000 Euros, almost 10.000 Euros were spent at the present moment, including three chemotherapies, one PET-CT, numerous blood tests and a surgery for inserting a catheter. If I am to undergo radiotherapy for 6 weeks the cost for this alone amounts to another 17.000 Euros, plus another 6 weeks of hotel accommodation, food, taxi, planes, etc. Plus another PET-CT now at the evaluation and another one at the end and four more chemotherapy sessions. The total costs are to be approximately 25.000 Euros, an exorbitant amount for me, but the amount that will give m a chance to finish treatment and, in the end, the right to life. I do not have this money and I will try for part of it to take a loan for personal needs, but this is not enough…
The only hope I have is that someone will read these lines and maybe decides to give a helping hand… For the ones that can help me, irrespective of the amount, I list below two account numbers, in RON and in EUR:
- RON account: RO76INGB0000999900106340
- EUR account: RO78INGB0000999900500512
accounts opened with ING Bank Bucharest – SWIFT CODE: INGB ROBU
- RON account: RO66RNCB0295114339300001
- EUR account : RO39RNCB0295114339300002
opened with BCR Drumul Taberei – SWIFT CODE: RNCB ROBU
My full name is Gabriela-Cecilia Lucan, Personal Identification Number: 2680416421519
Thank you from my heart and I hope to overcome this big test in my life…
MEDICAL DOCUMENTS AND ANALYSES
1) SURGERY IN THE MILITARY HOSPITAL 2009
2) ADDITIONAL ANALYSES IN OCTOBER 2009
3) TREATMENT IN ANADOLU MEDICAL CENTER IN ISTANBUL