My name is Meron. I am from Ethiopia. The only difference between Ethiopia and India is that my country made me lose hope on living which was restored only after I came to India. As a 15-year-old girl, I excelled in sports and academics. I don’t know if I will ever be able to get back to do what I loved the most.
When sports became a distant memoryA year ago, I was fine. Suddenly I started having very heavy menstrual bleeding. It wouldn’t stop for days. I would also throw up a lot. My family and the local doctors assumed that it was because I was involved in football all the time. It broke my heart into pieces when I was asked to take a break from sports.
I never thought that this break would extend this long. When taking a long break from sports didn’t help, I was given iron supplements. My body was just not healing. I became very tired and fatigued. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I had become very dull. I used to cry in pain when I had my menstruation. I just wanted a way out of the pain. I was once a champion in the fields and slowly I couldn't even walk.
My hope was dying outAfter taking many, many rounds to several doctors, I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. This is a condition where the bone marrow is damaged and the body makes no blood. It is a condition worse than cancer. My parents didn’t know what to do. I had started believing that I wouldn't live long and started counting how many more days I would live. I didn’t want to wake up because every day was painful too. My parents also started believing that I will die soon.
My dad worked as a mechanic and earned very less. My mum is a housewife. Dad’s income was never enough for the family of 4, which included my parents, my brother and I. Father used to struggle to make ends meet so I could become a sportsperson. Now he struggled to save me.
The medical facilities back home aren’t good. Soon after the diagnosis, I started chemotherapy. The chemotherapy wasn’t helping me get better at all. Father had to spend too much money on my medicines and chemotherapy. I feel that it is due to me that my family is on the verge of going into begging. But they never complained. They just wanted me to live.
Doctors said that the only way to save me was a bone marrow transplant (BMT). For this, we had to come to India which exhausted whatever my family was left with. Chemotherapy has not just changed my physical appearance. It has taken away my self-confidence and years of training. I cannot believe that I will ever be able to live a normal life again.
I could hope to live againOnly 5 months ago I came to India. We couldn’t have come to India if a local NGO back home didn’t help us with the funds. Even after we came to India, they helped with treatment. After a thorough analysis of my condition, the doctors here carried out the bone marrow transplant successfully.
Only after this surgery, could I start believing that I would be able to live again. When I fell sick again - I was crushed. I had developed an infection which is deadly in my condition. My hip joint is swollen. I have been throwing up and I have a chest infection. Doctors have told that chemotherapy for a few more months will help me become better.
Dad has spent everything he had. For the past 5 months, he has been here with me and his job is gone. Our family has no income. I don’t even know how mother is doing back in Ethiopia. When we return home, Dad has to find a new job. I don’t know how will we manage. I feel responsible for putting my family through such difficulty. But I want to become fit and fine and give my family a better life by working very hard.
How can you help?My family has no money left to carry out my treatment anymore. The funds required to get me better is Rs 15 lakhs. If I don’t get treatment now, all that I have undergone in a year will be in vain. I need your support to live.
-As told to Charita Cariappa