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Young mother: "Thanks to donations to the Gift of Life, I can make unforgettable memories with my children"

We have been supporting 38-year-old Mari, who lives just outside of Tallinn, in her battle with stomach cancer since the beginning of January. Four months of immunotherapy costs around 23,500 euros, to which she herself contributes 2000 euros. We are glad that the treatment thus far has produced good results for the mother of two, and we will continue to support her. 

Mari writes:

Up until last year, I was certain that each of us is only given one life, which we should live in the most honest and dignified way possible. Only a few of us are given more than one chance at life. Such people were like heroes to me in a way: they had returned to their regular lives after a brief encounter with the other side, where they ended up because of unexpected events or twists of fate.

Some of them were heroes in the truest sense of the word, having tried to save others by sacrificing their own lives. Only some time later did I reconsider my opinion and start thinking of doctors, scientists and generous donors as the real heroes, whose efforts have helped bring a number of souls back to life who were already thought to be lost.

I wasn't afraid, because nothing foretold that the next person chosen by fate would be me. In March last year I felt that I was tiring out too easily. That was unexpected, and a bit concerning. My energy levels were low as well. I used to be a relatively active person, always eager to learn, and looking at the world with an open mind and a thirst for knowledge so that I could be useful to the rest of the world. I've never only been a taker: I’ve always tried to help where I can, and where I feel my skills are needed most. I hope that I’ve at least repaid the world piece by piece for the most precious gift I’ve ever been given – my life.

I was studying and working at the same time, I defended my doctoral thesis, and my the limits of what I could do and achieve seemed endless. But then, suddenly, I found myself getting tired. I hadn't even noticed my clothes growing one size smaller, and had difficulties eating that progressed over time. I saw my GP, talked about my problems and was prescribed some reflux medication. But since things got worse, I kept asking for a referral for a gastroscopy, but they didn't consider it necessary. By May, I was in a state where even drinking liquids was becoming problematic, and despite frequent calls to my doctor’s surgery, I was only told to take myself to the ER, if necessary, which I finally did on 8 June last year.

My diagnosis shocked me: they discovered that I had advanced stomach cancer. My world came crashing down around me in a moment. I spent Midsummer in hospital receiving chemotherapy, which I then repeated seven times in six months, every cycle lasting five days. Fortunately, my tumour responded to treatment and my illness is now under control. Still, I need additional treatment if I’m to stay alive. Since my chemotherapy ended in December, the doctor treating me recommended starting immunotherapy. Presumably it could have great results, depending on the specific nature of the tumour.

Having been trampled under foot by fate, I naturally listened to the advice of the doctor. A drowning man will clutch at a single straw, after all. Unfortunately, it turned out that the Health Insurance Fund doesn't fund immunotherapy, which is why I contacted the foundation. The people there were just so understanding and accommodating, and they responded to my plea both promptly and positively. Thanks to the foundation, I’ve had the chance to start new and effective treatment this year, back in January, enabling me to live longer with my two little kids than I would've expected to a few months before.

Immunotherapy has been going on now for three months and my tumour has shrunk significantly. I feel energetic and have some get-up-and-go again. I can eat normally. I feel like I've been reborn. All that is thanks to the foundation and the generosity of its donors. Thanks to you, I can make unforgettable memories with my children in this second life that’s been given to me. I can give them a sense of security, bring smiles back to their faces and feel like a normal and healthy person again. Every extra day of life is of special value to me, and for that I’d like to express my sincere thanks to my saviours.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the foundation and its donors for lending me a helping hand in a situation where my prospects for further treatment without immunotherapy would basically have been non-existent. It's hard to find the right words to express the gratitude that the foundation's help inspires in me. A huge THANK YOU for your help and generosity! I know the price of the life that’s been gifted to me."

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