The Unknown and Unexpected

Lydia Baretto – Goa, October 2007

I am from Goa, above fifty years of age and have three married children. I always considered myself to be hale and hearty, without any major illness; a very happy and contented person with a wonderful husband and loving family. Until……….

A day I shall never forget—23rd October 2004. I was forced by my husband to go for a blood test. He feared that my cholesterol was high since I love to eat ice-creams and chocolates. My pathologist asked for a retest and asked me to get a family member with me. I had a terrible feeling. I took my eldest daughter-in-law with me when I went for the retest. My pathologist sat down with us and told me that I had Chronic Myeloid Luekemia (CML), a form of blood cancer. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I burst into tears and felt devastated. It was like a death sentence CANCER.

At that time I did not know anything about CML. That week passed like a nightmare. I just cried and cried. If I saw anyone I knew I would burst into tears. I started pitying myself. Why me? I considered myself a fairly good person. I had a wonderful life, still do thankfully. My wonderful family rallied around me. I was a very pious person until a few years ago when we got caught up in the construction of our house in Goa and when prayers took a back seat. I suppose our Lord was hurt because I just ignored him. I know now that He made his presence felt. He brought me to my knees. My children rang all our friends and family asking for their prayers. And pray we did. My doctor here Dr. G.V. Naik, referred me to Dr. Advani of Jaslok Hospital who turned out to be a perfect gentleman ever smiling and warm hearted. Several tests confirmed the initial diagnosis. Dr Advani explained the nature of my illness to me and told me that this form of leukaemia was now controllable .Thanks to research by the Pharmaceutical company Novartis there is now a drug that helps people with this illness.

My heartfelt thanks to Novartis and The Max Foundation for making the drug available to me. I shall be eternally grateful to them. On my visit to The Max Foundation Office in Bombay I met Mrs. Viji Venkatesh and her caring team of Ayeshah and Dr. Pallavi. Even the office assistant Ashok there, is so warm hearted. They make you feel like family. God bless them and their work. I was put onto the Glivec tablet right away. My blood count which was a whopping 35,000 came down to 11,000 in just a month. I did not even feel sick. I settled down with my CML nicely. A month later the last of my sons got married. We were so happy. But then, on Christmas Eve, I went into a Coma after experiencing a splitting migraine. I was rushed to the hospital and put on a ventilator. The CT scan showed I had blood bleeds in my head (subdural). Prayers went up everywhere for me. I came out of the coma in a day. A month later I was operated here by Dr. Netalkar. Our Lord was making his presence felt in my life. He gave me a cancer that could be reversible. He gave me blood bleeds that did not burst to kill me.

Our heavenly father looks out for us. He is truly great.

It is 26 months now since I was diagnosed with CML. My latest tests have come 100% positive. Thanks to the Almighty. Thanks to Novartis and the Max Foundation for having made it possible and for the loving and caring team of workers here and abroad.