Lara Casalotti was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in December and found it extremely difficult to find the life-saving stem cell donor she needed even her family refused profound support in saving,getting a donor to save her life. Lara Casalotti, age 24, lives in north London and is studying for a Masters in global migration, tells her victory story.
“I will be receiving a stem cell transplant using cells from an anonymous donor who, though I don’t even know their name, could be about to save my life. After eight days of grueling chemotherapy and radiotherapy to wipe out the remaining bone marrow in my body and make room for the new cells, I am about to have the procedure that will hopefully put an end to five months of pain and worry for me and my family. And I can’t wait for it all to be over. It all started last October with a few niggling ailments. First I suffered a trapped nerve in my left arm. Then I went down with a bout of tonsillitis. More alarming was a pain in my left leg that radiated down from my lower back. One day, out walking my dog, my entire leg seized up. At A&E, another trapped nerve was suspected, and I was given painkillers and told to rest.My mother Supanya, 53, and brother Seb, 20, flew out to be with me, while my father Stefano, 53, stayed at home to research the best place for treatment.
I then flew back to Heathrow, and was admitted to UCLH on December 19, beginning chemo two days later.The pain was awful. I couldn’t understand what caused it, but a doctor explained it was the bone marrow, inflamed and packed with cancerous cells. It was a relief to understand what was happening, but I still couldn’t find a position to be comfortable in. Meanwhile the whole family was left reeling by the diagnosis, and took turns sleeping by my side. Mum brought in food for me from home: noodles or pasta, and mashed potatoes when the chemo left me with a sore throat as a side effect.However, I was most touched by a man named Jed, who is also part Thai and part Italian and took an eight-hour bus ride from his home in northern Thailand to donate a sample in Bangkok. He recorded a video message for me, saying: ‘‘All of us who are mixed race – we are like a family.’’ It made me well up with tears.Watching all these humans connect across the globe kept me positive: “This,” I thought, “is what humanity is truly about.” In the past couple of months, my family’s incredible devotion and drive to scour the world for a donor has resulted not just in a match for me, but an additional 20,000 donors (half of whom are from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds who will go on to the worldwide stem cell register, giving hope to others in our position in the future.Last month, as I began the recovery period back at home, I took a phone call. It was one of the nurses, ringing to say that incredibly, against all the odds, she had amazing news: a donor had been found. I could hardly take it in.Now, right this second maybe, my donor is out there selflessly donating his or her stem cells so that I can have this procedure and go on with my life. I’m sending them all the good vibes I can muster.I’m still incredibly curious about who the donor could be, and immensely grateful to them. But confidentiality rules mean we must both stay anonymous to each other for two years although I can write via an intermediary to say thank you.I can only applaud them for doing this incredible thing, which has given me hope and a second chance at life. This day will forever feel to me like my second birthday”.
Lara is said to be victorious over this aliment through global reach-out.