In January 2019 Ella was first diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. It was still in our first year of marriage and we were both very scared, we couldn't believe it. Why would she have cancer?
The doctors were trying to calm us down, stating that this type of lymphoma had a very high chance of full remission. This first cycle of chemo therapy was an unknown, scary time. Ella felt sick, everything in her body felt off and there were moments when we had to rush to the hospital out of fear that her heart or lungs could collapse. She stayed strong and took the chemo heroically well. After a few months she received the all clear in the summer 2019. The chances of the cancer returning were estimated at 3%.
We felt like we returned to normal life and it had all been just a bad dream. Ella took up singing again, I was lucky enough to get viola lessons from a top pedagogue for free and life was going in the right direction.
Our honeymoon, cancelled by the first diagnosis, was postponed again due to Covid-19.
Regular checkups were suggesting the cancer didn't plan on returning. The last one of those was in May and showed no activity.
At the end of July, however, Ella started to get symptoms which were reminiscent of the ones she had before the treatment.
We didn't want to believe it but eventually were forced to check and received the bad news - relapse, stage 4.
Ella got tremendous support from her family during the first chemo and we wanted to have it for the second one, too.
The chemo was harsh, but Ella showed courage again - she didn't let the chemo stop her from enjoying her birthday and Christmas. She was lively and active and made plans and had hopes and dreams for the coming year.
Just before she was able to complete the treatment by doing a radiotherapy the cancer mutated and grew back instantly.
The chances of that happening are very very slim, so she once again was very unlucky.
She started a new chemo therapy, which combined with a pneumonia and developed into a life threatening situation. She spent 10 days in hospital, came back home for 3 and then spent 32 consecutive days in hospital again. She was fighting for her life.
The chemo didn't show any improvement in the lymphoma and so she started a new treatment - an antibody treatment, which was gentler and much more Ella's style. The chances of it working were 30%.
Her condition improved and she was eventually allowed to come home again.
The following week showed some worrying symptoms again and the scan that followed revealed that the tumour had not responded to the treatment and instead expanded over to her other lung.
Running out of options, Ella decided to have a catalyst drug - a chemo therapy - added to the antibody to enhance its effects.
It was a high risk decision, but one of the only two remaining to have a chance at a full remission.
The chemo therapy, combined with the tumour and the returning pneumonia were too much for her body to handle.
She wasn't able to breathe enough oxygen to sustain her life and there was nothing we or the doctors could do to save her.
This is probably painful to read, and it is also painful to write, but there is something we can do, now.
We can help those who will be in this exact situation, and we can save them from the same fate that befell us.
We need to make the treatment more effective, we need to fight against this cancer. We need to defeat it.
Ella was the bravest soul I have ever come across and ever will. She fought with every little bit of strength she could muster. She was incredible. She never gave up. She was always kind.
Lymphoma defeated her body, but her soul remained unaffected. She was stronger than the cancer and was smiling even in her last hours.
Not many people will have this inner strength, and lymphoma will not only attack and defeat their body, but also their spirit. They need a better future, a better treatment, better prospects and chance at life.
For them I will fight.
In remembrance of an angel of a person, my dear Ellochka.