«When you live together with the monster of childhood cancer, your life changes forever. You can no longer remain impassive, you have the need to fight tirelessly against him ». With barely three years old Antía is detected a brain tumor. In that instant, «Our whole life, that of Antía and that of those around us changes», says Antonio, his father.
Two operations to place and remove a valve, four interventions to finish removing the tumor, 34 sessions of radiotherapy, four months of chemotherapy with four different types of drugs … A two-year ordeal in which the example to follow was always Antía «She has been the force. Not only for us but for all its surroundings ». Antonio, excited, tells how in one of the worst moments of his life, When he thought that his daughter's life was running away in his hands, he could not stop remembering the phrase that his daughter told him before going to the hospital: "It's okay, daddy, quiet".
In September 2016, Antía begins to have belly pains. After three months of coming and going to the emergency room, visits to the pediatrician and analytics, the girl is admitted to the Alcorcón Foundation Hospital. As the day went by Antía felt worse until she began to convulse and was rushed to the hospital on October 12.
«At that moment you realize how important an early diagnosis is in childhood cancer», explains Antonio. And it was the insistence of Dr. Hervilla, an anesthetist at the hospital in Alcorcón, who perhaps saved her daughter's life. The recommendation that the girl get a TAC was key.
Needless to say, these tests involve radiation and for a three-year-old girl it is more than uncomfortable. Her father went down with her, since her mother was 16 weeks pregnant. He still remembers the broken sentences of the doctors: "It's very big", "yes, yes, it has displacement"… Until finally someone confirmed that they had seen a mass in the brain.
"Ignorant of me, I have to admit that at that moment I rested. At least we knew what to face … I was not aware of what was coming our way », says Antonio sadly. Everything happened so fast, there was nothing to suggest that his pain came from a tumor.
Here Dr. Pascual enters the scene, responsible for giving the news to parents and explain that their daughter has a large tumor, which was beginning to displace the brain, aggravated with a severe hydrocephalus. You have to have a special capacity to do it and Antía's parents only have words of thanks for this doctor for her professionalism and empathy … «It's about your daughter, what you love most».
And in this arduous struggle they have never felt alone. You meet a lot of people on the road and you see how some parents, in the end, are left alone. Here, the work of the volunteers is very important. Antonio has a special memory of «Piruleto» His real name is Fernando and at thirteen he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, since then every Sunday he goes to the hospital to get a smile to the little ones and their families.
The secret weapons of Antía
The ability of the girl to face the treatments with just three years was amazing. «Children with cancer have an admirable personality, calling them heroes falls short», explains Antonio. But Antía had three secret weapons: his "Apo" doll, his dog Lola and the queen of his world, his little sister, his "tata".
Antía understood perfectly that he had to go through certain tests to get rid of that "little thing" or "little piece of meat" he had in his head. They were hard tests, but he faced them with an unusual maturity for his age. So much so that, sometimes I drew strength from where there was to help other children who were going to go through the same trance. Thanks to Dr. Prados and her team the cortex of the tumor could finally be "detached" from the brain
In the summer of 2017, I could go out on the street every now and then to play with her friends. Laughing, affectionate and optimistic, she is very to stay and see people. In this time Antía received chemotherapy, the "medicine macaroni", according to her. And one day he heard the word pimp and he liked it. After explaining what it meant decided that chemotherapy was, without a doubt, the most puny medicine there was.
It was a tough time. In the last intervention he suffered a sustained brain crisis that prevented him from speaking and moving his right arm. The doctors could not give guarantees that he would recover, there was only waiting. Antía assimilated what had happened to her and, far from resigning herself, made puns, tried to pick up things with her hand … «It was a party when a word came up, or I could get something. You could tell he was pissed on the inside, he wanted to communicate, but he did not give up », says Antonio. If someone managed to overcome it, it was her, "we have not met anyone with that tenacity and that strength," he adds.
After a new crisis the miracle was worked and Antía spoke again, to move her hand and embrace her beloved "Apo". A happiness that was completed with the result of the first resonance without evidence of disease.
"We know that this type of tumor has a very high probability of recurrence, that there is nobody or anything that assures us that the disease has disappeared forever, that we will continue without sleeping the week between the resonance and the results, that In more than one occasion we will feel fear, but when you are with Antía, everything happens. It remains our strength. Now it's time to be happy»
How is the life of Antía today? Antonio is clear: "Happy. Live everything to the fullest, although in his little head he has that scar that every morning is checked and covered as his hair grows. And the loss of her curly hair was a dislike for her ».
The story of Antía, a nod to hope
Antía and her family want their story to serve as a guide for those who are disoriented, lost or need a little hope in their fight against childhood cancer. A disease in which the necessary is not inverted or investigated enough. And that is why they decided to record a video with Antía and her dog Lola as protagonists and to make known the Pablo Ugarte Association (APU). A non-profit association, composed only of volunteers (about 2,350 members) and that, to this day, contributes more than 45% of everything destined in our country to the investigation of childhood cancer.
The video seeks to sensitize and raise awareness in society about the problem and severity of childhood cancer and the need to support their research. It must be made clear that adult cancer is not the same as childhood cancer and, therefore, advances in the treatment of the elderly are not applicable to children.
It is not the first time that Antía is placed before the cameras, as she did last year, giving voice to this disease with her cousins. And this association has been a breath of fresh air for the whole family.
The generosity of Antia's family
At the Fundación Alcorcón Hospital, where Laura works (mother of Antía), the internal medicine plant collects Christmas money through the sale of ballots every year. After, They give that money to the family of the employee who needs it most.
The year Antía's fight began, they decided that those 1,600 euros raised would go to Laura and her family. It had barely been two months since the word ependymoma appeared in his life, but they were already aware of the need for research that exists in childhood cancer. So they decided that the best thing to help Antía was donate that money to a research team that was conducting a study, trial, whatever, about the ependymoma. They found nothing.
And then they ran into Mariano, president of the Pablo Ugarte Foundation. "Mariano is a close and close guy who presented us with childhood cancer from another perspective. Despite having lost his son Pablo, we were moved by a very big optimism»
After several months, they received the call from Mariano to inform them that the APU was going to finance a study of ependymoma, within the international program for diagnosis and treatment at the Virgen de la Macarena Hospital, in Seville.
«That is the essence of the APU, everyone contributes as they can and wants, with the sole purpose of ending childhood cancer in the shortest time possible. The more we collect, the more we will devote to research and before we will end this happy illness ».