Interview with our dear Lana in Extra magazine!
Lana Šarić is a 24-year old dramaturgist, the girl who wrote two shows, “Meat” and award-winning “Ifigenija”. She is now working on a new drama. It is a completely natural and nice flow of a career that has been totally aleatory, just as the young artist’s life.
Lana Šarić was treated against leukemia. Although the therapy still lasts, the disease has not returned and she managed to get back to her life. As opposed to Ana Rukavina, the journalist who touched the hearts of the public with a moving letter before her death, Lana Šarić managed to restore her health.
“Now that I am healed, I often refuse to think about everything I went through. However, I want to expose myself in public, because this is the way you change things, said Lana Šarić.
It is her wish to improve hospital conditions and to promote the action ”Medication is in us”.
In scope of this national campaign, voluntary donor blood samples are collected, just as the money for HLA typisation, thus establishing compatibility of blood-forming cells with a patient requiring bone marrow transplantation. Simply said, if you give as much as two probes of blood, you will be included in the registry of persons who are prepared to donate bone marrow in case of need. Bone marrow transplantation is the ultimate chance for life for many leukemia patients. Just as with organ transplantation, only one in a hundred thousand persons is completely compatible with patient genes, therefore each newly registered member increases the chance of finding a donor whose cells will be accepted by the patient’s body.
I’m working on it so no one else has to write letters like Ana Rukavina. Anyone of us – even when he expect it’s the least – can experience illness; I want to show that it is possible to get well and that you don’t have to die from leukemia.
“At the age of only 23 I was a senior at the Academy of Dramatic Arts, working on my second show. I had just moved away from my parents and started living on my own. I was very happy, full of energy, not even dreaming I would end up in hospital where I met 59 people just like me, many of whom would not survive”, she remembers.
She didn’t take disease symptoms seriously for a long time. A month and a half before she ended up in a hospital, she had felt fatigue and languor.
“I’m not a hypochondriac, I thought. I work too much, so it will go away. I was weak and drowsy, but I didn’t worry too much, until I saw bruises all over my body, due to thrombocyte deficiency. I had just come back from Italy where I had skied eight hours a day. When I returned I had my blood tested and was kept for the treatment.”
Faced with her diagnosis, Lana Šarić started her therapy. Her parents were worried about how she would accept staying at the hospital, afraid she wouldn’t make it closed in a hospital room.
“I can’t live with medium intensity, I have always lived and worked at a hundred km per hour. Then I was struck with a disease, affecting 150 people a year, a non-genetic disease, often striking young people”, says Lana Šarić of her experience.
“In the room of a few square meters, people were waiting for a hospital bed vacancy for weeks, chemotherapy was destroying immunity from day to day. That’s why you mustn’t leave the room, you must eat only sterile food; visits are rare, because patients are susceptible to bacteria. Hospitalized people are mostly struck by loneliness. What if you don’t like to read or if you hate watching movies? I was saved by my imagination.”
Lana says she took out the best for herself from her stay at the hospital:
“I looked great with short hair with a catheter hanging out of my chest. I tried to move and exercise as much as I could. I organized my day, using all modern technology benefits, spending time on the Internet and writing the whole days. I tried to see some advantages of my illness. After the first therapy they let me out to the first night of my show Ifigenija”.
Not everybody reacts the same. Many of them succumb to despair in a room without sanitary parts, or lose their willpower and force in isolation. When she saw different destinies, parents whose children never got well as well as doctors who do everything they can despite small pays and to support their patients, Lana Šarić has decided to join the Foundation initiated after Ana Rukavina’s death.
“I will never forget the day when Ana Rukavina found out that her disease was back. She came full of hope in a pink sweat suit, her hair grown since the last time I had seen her, ruffled in various directions. When she heard the bad prognosis she remained upright, however aware that the situation was serious. Her letter and her unfortunate death have prompted people to solidarity. Now we know more about leukemia and people are starting to realize that donations are necessary, because life can be unpredictable.”
When Lana Šarić was released from hospital, she joined Ana Rukavina Foundation.
“I had to do something. Whatever happened to me, I understood as a privilege and a chance to start appreciating my life. All my colleagues-actors and various volunteers have answered the invitation to organize blood collection action together; now the registry of potential mother cell donors has increased from only 154 persons to as many as 23000, to match other European registries. It is because we have informed people they don’t have to donate bone marrow to enter the registry, but only need to donate blood. Apart from that, on March 28th, Ana’s birthday, umbilical blood bank was opened in Zagreb Clinical Hospital Rebro. It is a voluntary bank where umbilical mother cells are collected; otherwise, the umbilicus is disposed of. Mothers may decide whether they will give away these cells to the bank, so they can serve all patients, or to preserve them for their child with money compensation in case of illness. Two weeks ago I became an aunt to a girl whose mother has used this opportunity.”
On Zagreb Day, Ana Rukavina Foundation was awarded the prize and donated 50.000 kuna.
“Since we need a few million kuna more for blood typisation in the registry, a phone-line is opened for the people who wish to assist the development of bone marrow donation system. By calling 060 9000 from the first of July, everyone will donate 6.1 kuna with their call as assistance to the action “Medication is in us”. I hope no one else will have to write letters to move the public, because people are not selfish, but only insufficiently informed. I will therefore remember my disease as long as it takes”, Lana Šarić says in conclusion.