During 2018 this project had helped 13 patients with the costs of travel, lodging and treatment abroad. We shared several of the stories with you. Some of the patients are children whose parents are desperate to give them access to modern care. Others are adults who were told that nothing could be done for them in their home countries, yet promising treatments exist abroad.
One of these patients will be receiving our support again this year. She continues to need our help and will be unable to afford treatment otherwise.
Irina was born and grew up in Crimea. She had a gift for languages and became a teacher of English and Italian. After takeover of Crimea by Russia in 2014, Irina’s family fled to Kiev where they worked hard to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, in late 2017 Irina was urgently hospitalized. The tests revealed colon cancer that resulted in complete blockage of her intestines and metastases in her liver. Irina was in a critical condition, and Ukrainian doctors only expected her to have 3 months to live.
Irina’s family decided to get a second opinion. They used their life savings to take Irina to Israel for treatment. There she underwent seven cycles of chemotherapy, and her disease retreated. However, Irina needs to continue her treatment to keep cancer at bay. Every two months, she travels to Israel for chemotherapy, as medications she needs are not available in Ukraine. Our support is vital, and she is very grateful to everyone whose help allowed her to continue accessing life-saving treatment.
Thank you for supporting our project! We hope to make more difference in lives of cancer patients like Irina this year.
Mar 4, 2019
Five patients have been helped!
By Marina Ouano - Project Leader
We have great news to report: thanks to your generosity during the holiday season, we were able to transfer $30,000 to the registry in Germany and use these funds to help pay off debts of 5 blood cancer patients! What a great way to start a year for these patients! Your financial support is much appreciated and will help the patients breathe a bit easier as they continue on their path to recovery.
Here is a couple of stories of the patients who have received your support this time:
Anastasia is from a small town in Siberia. She is an elementary and English teacher who loves her job and her students. In 2009 Anastasia had a daughter. All was going great. But in 2014 she got sick with a regular cold, it seemed. However, her blood test was abnormal and then a biopsy showed that she had issues with her bone marrow, and so all of a sudden Anastasia was diagnosed with leukemia. It was a difficult time, as she not only had to battle cancer, but also deal with a dissolution of her marriage. Anastasia achieved remission and stayed on maintenance chemo for two years. Things were getting back to normal. She even met someone and got married again. But then leukemia returned in January 2018 and the treatment had to be restarted. This time Anastasia has support of her husband, and their two children. She is in remission, but for the remission to be sustained, she needed bone marrow transplant from a donor. On Valentine's Day, she received transplant from a foreign donor and is now recovering.
Ekaterina is from St. Petersburg. She is a mom of two little boys: her oldest in the 2nd grade, and the youngest just a year old. In May 2018 Katya was diagnosed with myelomonoblastic leukemia. She is very artistic and a designer by profession. She loved her interior designer job, and enjoyed traveling, yoga and caring for the boys. All of it changed in last April when Katya started feeling fatigued, became nauseous and lightheaded. By now she completed several rounds of chemotherapy, but bone marrow transplant is a necessity in her situation. Katya's brother did not match her as a donor, and the family had to search for the donor abroad. While they were able to raise about a third of the required amount, they needed support of others to pay off the registry bill. In December Katya received a transplant from donor. She is still undergoing recovery and fighting off infections that developed due to her low immunity.
We are wishing Anastasia and Ekaterina speediest recovery! Thank you for your support of these courageous young women and others like them!
Feb 7, 2019
Immunotherapy to the rescue!
By Marina Ouano - Project Leader
In January we transferred over $6,000 to buy Opdivo in Germany for blood cancer patients in St. Petersburg. Opdivo is called a “miracle drug” sometimes: it is currently indicated to treat eight kinds of cancer – as different as lung cancer, melanoma or Hodgkin lymphoma. It works by harnessing the immune system to fight cancer. Discovered by accident, when scientists were looking for a drug to tamp down the immune response in patients with autoimmune disease, not stimulate it, it took years to get to clinical trials. The studies, however, showed striking results immediately. Among advanced melanoma patients, never before seen responses astonished oncologists. From there it took off - many more indications were added to Opdivo, and other similar drugs.
Hodgkin lymphoma patients like those treated in St. Petersburg also benefitted from immunotherapy. Patients who failed multiple chemotherapy lines, suddenly had a new option that could bring in remission that lasted. However, high efficacy came with a high price tag attached. In Russia, Opdivo is not covered by the federal healthcare system, which means patients have to pay for it out of their own pockets. Retail pharmacies also add significant premium to a drug that is already very expensive. For this reason, we buy medications from Germany at a much lower price.
Thank you for helping us make modern medications accessible to cancer patients in Russia! We appreciate your support and will make sure to share more stories of how you are making impact this year!