November 26th marks the four year anniversary of Ana Rukavina leaving us!
“Giving up was never an option for me…”
“…Really, it is difficult for me to put into words exactly what I am asking of you, I know I said I only needed 10 minutes, but I was not completely honest. Don’t criticize me; this is not easy for me. All of my wishes actually fit into three words – I WANT LIFE…,” wrote Ana Rukavina Erceg in her cry for help which went all around Croatia. Even though her hope and optimism never faded, even in the most difficult moments, on November 26, 2006, Ana lost the most difficult fight of her life – the fight against a dangerous disease.
Exactly four years ago, a young life ended. A life which still had a lot to say, a life which showed that it is important to fight to the end, a light which should still be burning, a life which wanted to live, the life of Ana Rukavina. This date will never be forgotten, not only by Ana’s family, but by many other people who were given the strength and inspiration to continue fighting for life by this young journalist.
In the middle of 2005, Ana Rukavina was diagnosed with leukemia. In the face of this dangerous disease, her optimism and desire to live never left her. She died too early, at the age of twenty nine. With her letter, I Want Life, Ana touched all of Croatia. On the third anniversary of Ana’s death we remember her cry for help and the preciousness of life, which is so often forgotten. Ana Rukavina inspired a feeling of solidarity among people who were brought together for one goal – to help one young life.
“Ana loved life. She left us too soon and left behind an indelible mark which reminds us how much we can help if we do it together. ‘Giving up was never an option for me. I immensely love life and people; I know I have someone to live for. Sometimes it seems that not even 100 years would be enough time for me to learn everything on this earth that was destined for me.’ These are the words from Ana’s letter which should always serve to remind us that we need to fight during the hardest times in our lives, and that you should never give up on the fight for life. Dear Ana, you continue to live in our hearts,” was a message published by the Ana Rukavina Foundation on the third anniversary of Ana’s death.
The proofs that Ana has not been forgotten are the activities of the Foundation, which is led by Ana’s mother Marija and Ana’s sister Gordana Leto. The goal of the Foundation, which was established by the Rukavina family, the Croatian Leukemia and Lymphoma Association and the editorial board of Vjesnik, was to collect as many voluntary stem cell donors as possible in order to save as many lives as possible. With its activities, the Ana Rukavina Foundation has significantly contributed to educating the public about hematological diseases and to expanding the Registry of voluntary bone marrow donors from a mere 150 donors to 33,000. In addition to helping those people suffering from hematological diseases and developing new programs and treatment methods, the Foundation initiated the establishment of the Public Cord Blood Bank on March 28, 2007, the day when this young Vjesnik journalist would have celebrated her 30th birthday.