It all started in January 2017. The news, like all bad news, fell like a jug of cold water. A real blow for Iván Vaquero, Civil Guard, 33 years old. As he himself defines: “It is a very fat stick and it changes your life, but I always visualized the recovery, “he says. after overcoming Hodking lymphoma, a hematological disease similar to the one that took the life of Jacqueline Kennedy (hers was not Hodking).
Every year they are diagnosed in Spain 10,000 lymphomas, what do you suppose 30% of annual hematological tumors detected in our country. Always at the forefront of research, the CRIS Unit of Hematological Tumors of the Hospital 12 de Octubre in Madrid, directed by Dr.Joaquin Martinez, head of the Hematoncology Service of the hospital itself, has developed more than 250 clinical trials, new drugs and therapeutic targets to advance against this disease for the benefit of patients.
Ivan, our protagonist and survivor of the disease, knows better than anyone the importance of support research to find new treatments, to the point that you have created a solidarity challenge to raise funds for CRIS against cancer. His name and surname, ‘We are people of 10’.
In statements to El Confidencial, the military man points out: “I have always been linked to physical activity, I like doing sports, running, swimming, sports in general, paddle tennis, soccer … My job as a civil guard also keeps me in shape and that is why I exercised . Caught me in the best time of my life getting ready to enter the Reserve and Security Group of the Civil Guard. I had to do both courses, which I spent having lymphoma, but without knowing it. ”
“When they detected it, I was in phase 3. I had no symptoms, one day I felt more tired than another, but I always attributed it to training, to effort”, Iván Vaquero
And it details: “Because when they detected it, a little later, I was in phase 3. I had no symptoms, one day I felt more tired than another, but I always blamed it on training, on effort. I remember about December 2017 A lump on my neck was inflamed and I already knew that something strange was happening because it was getting bigger and bigger and even my windpipe was moving to one side and it felt like they grabbed my neck. I went for tests, analysis, ultrasound, biopsy and they detected my disease. ”
Radiography of the disease
There are, as we have said, many types of lymphomas, but, as the American Society of Oncology, “exist two main ones: the Hodking and the non-Hodking. The two behave, spread, and respond to treatment differently. Cancer starts when cells start to grow out of control. Although lymphoma of the first type can start anywhere, most often originates in lymph nodes in the upper body. The most common areas are the chest, neck or under the arms. ”
“Normally,” he continues, spreads through lymphatic vessels from ganglion to ganglion. Rarely, during the advanced stage of the disease, it can invade the bloodstream and spread to other organs, such as the liver, lungs and / or bone marrow. ”
“They explained the treatment to me and I only visualized the recovery. From the first moment I was very motivated and eager to start. I was diagnosed at the end of January (as we have already documented). I remember that at the beginning of February they did not give me the first cycle of chemotherapy, and I remember that they were hellish moments because time passed and it did nothing to me. It’s when you think of the worst. But when I started the treatment, hand in hand with my family and my friends, They all showed me that I was not alone, and the truth is that I wore it great. They were six cycles, six months, and by the third cycle I had a complete remission and the doctors were amazed at my body’s response. It is true that the remaining three months are hard, because you are much weaker, But knowing that your body is responding to treatment, there is no better way than to face it and end it with enthusiasm. Drawing strength when we need it most “.
And he adds: “I had been with the idea of creating a solidarity challenge in favor of research with CRIS for a long time. against cancer and that is why I launched on the solidarity challenges platform ‘win cancer’ asking people to share photos doing sports and make a contribution. I am very happy with the reception and support of the people and I hope that we can help CRIS in its magnificent work. It was in one of the first consultations when I learned about everything they do in research and I did not hesitate to become a partner”, he reports.
Marta Cardona, director of CRIS, explains the importance of supporting research and the impact it has on the development of new lines: “The creation of the unit was the first project when it was founded more than 10 years ago and we are very proud of the advances made in hematological tumors, thanks to the donations of partners, companies and all the efforts of civil society, which also wants to participate in the cure of cancer. In this sense, having solidarity challenges such as that of Iván, who as a lymphoma patient knows how vital research is, is essential to continue advancing ”.
“One important thing I did was let myself be carried away by those around me, it is important to feel loved, to lean on family and friends. It is essential not to make the trip alone”
Unit is a fantastic example of how strongly supporting research has a direct impact on quality of life for patients. Since the beginning of its activities in 2013, it has developed at least 15 different treatments, based on the most advanced technologies. To be at the forefront, the Madrid hospital seeks to improve current cell therapies (CAR-T) with others of the same ‘brand’, but focusing on cells’natural killer’, safer and with fewer side effects compared to the former, thanks to an ambitious research strategy.
At the moment they work to promote their activity, make them stay active for longer by fighting tumors, and have developed their own culture method that enhances the duration of NK cells and their effectiveness with an induced memory the second time they face the same threat as it can be key in the fight against relapses.
Important for him was also that “The relationship with the medical team was great from the first consultation. When you listen the word cancer, you know that your life is ending and you have to create another around that word. The hematologists who treated me have been incredible people, very professional, they have been able to carry me and I have been able to endure the treatment. I have felt very loved and I thank you for your effort and your work. Thanks to medical professionals, I can continue to enjoy life “, he adds.
And if we ask: “Have you needed psychological support?” “The truth is that no,” he answers. “With my fellow travelers, family and friends, and also social networks. There I have found the strength I needed for each cycle. I published something in the same, when I was in the hospital with the chemotherapy cycles, and immediately I noticed the affection of my people in the form of words of encouragement. It is a very important time for the good because it has been brutal to fight alongside all my people and to carry out the treatment. Having them there has been the best thing that ever happened to me. With that I have not needed more support. It is true that the hospital offered it to me, but luckily I did not need it. I remember they came in when I was in treatment and they saw me smiling and when they saw me like this they said: ‘Well, if you’re in better spirits than us, how are we going to support you?’ I think the best support is to smile, not to erase it and to have that affection next to the people who love you. “Here is the life lesson.