“My dear, this too shall pass. The only thing I’ll remember from this ordeal is how much I craved a really good meal. Honestly, that’s the only thing I’ve been thinking about in this hospital and I guess that’s why I’ve been doing so well.” These were Ana’s words after another chemotherapy session in mid 2005, after she had ended up in the hospital and found out the grim diagnosis.
Only a few days before an ambulance took her to the emergency room we had been talking about how exhausted she was, and how she should take some time off from work, but she kept postponing because of the events she wanted to see, interviews she had already arranged, and the stories she had announced. It was as if she knew this would be her last chance to indulge her great passion – journalism. In the end, her writing was limited to the short e-mails that she sent from the hospital, and the countless SMS messages, replying to our question, “How are you doing?”.
“Night owl from Rebro calling…”, would be her way of sending funny messages at 6 AM or earlier, because she couldn’t sleep. Her messages were always a joke, an idea, a push – sometimes hard for us to fit into our everyday commitments, until the day ended and we realized that it was Ana who had made it special and unique.
In her final moments, her fervour was entirely focused on her wish to raise enough money for a bone marrow donor registry. It all started with the statement she made after the doctors told her she might need to go for treatment to the USA. “I want to buy life,” she wrote at that time.
“Do you know how many people are waiting for that transplantation, and how much it would mean to them?” she asked me in one of her morning messages. I was ashamed because I did not know the first thing about it, let alone the fact that establishing the stem cell bank would cost about 7.5 million Kuna. It seemed impossible.
I never got to tell her how much her “morning” messages meant to me, or of the feeling that she is still with us, ill and exhausted, but ready to show us how to give oneself to others in their times of hardship. I never got to tell her that she was the reason I learned how important bone marrow transplantations is to the sick, or how big her idea was.
Goodbye, Ana. Even the huge public response couldn’t buy you life. However, we can keep on working on establishing the bone marrow donor registry and help others.