During the second term of 2019, we have followed and supported six new patients with their fight against cancer. They have been receiving proton-therapy treatment in the Essen and Pavia centres, in Germany and Italy respectively. This year, 22 people have already battled the illness despite there being no proton therapy available yet in Spain.

Oscar, four years old, is one of those fighters. He has just come back from Essen with his sister and parents. Patricia, Oscar´s mother wanted to share her experience with her son since he was diagnosed:

On my birthday last year, in December 2018, my husband noticed that the left side of our youngest son´s face was paralysed. When we left the birthday, we went straight away to A&E, where the doctor told us that this type of paralysis was quite common in some children, owing to a viral infection. She prescribed cortisol and recommended we visit our paediatrician for a follow up. She assured us it was nothing serious.

The next day, the paediatrician gave us the same diagnosis, and this was repeated in all four other hospitals in Barcelona which we worriedly went to. Two weeks later, when Oscar was playing in the park he hit his ear. He started to cry a lot and blood came out of his left ear. To us, the hit to his ear didn’t seem to have been hard enough to justify such a painful reaction and the blood had a strange colour. Straight away, we went to Hospital Sant Joan de Déu again, and after our insitance, they conceded to give him a TAC. There it was… an embryonic rabdiosarcoma, measuring about 3cm in the auditory channel.

‘They recommended a type of therapy that didn’t exist in Spain, proton therapy, which was to occur in Germany’

Immediately they hospitalised him, we went to surgery and chemotherapy, everything was so intense and went so fast. We left that park and we entered a completely different life. The next phase after the chemo was radiotherapy, and due to the tumours location, they recommended a type of radio that didn’t exist in Spain, proton therapy, which was to occur in Germany.

The Hospital Vall d’Hebron put us in contact with the Columbus Foundation. The way we have been treated has been very kind and they have helped us with everything; sending us information about the accommodation and the European Social Security card. They also sent us a translator for every medical appointment that helped us so much during the six weeks of treatment. Now that we are back, they are giving us advice on how to handle the Spanish social security.

We have now finished the radio and we have returned to Barcelona. We have yet to finish part of the chemo treatment. The outlook is that this whole nightmare will be finished in September, and that by October, Oscar can continue with his life as normal. The tumour has already disappeared, so we have to finish the protocol and hold out until these last months of chemo are over, so that we can finally enjoy a normal life.

On behalf of my family, the loving treatment and all the help that Ana Gómez, the director, and all the team at Columbus Foundation has given us. Many chores may seem easy in a normal circumstance but when you have a sick child your whole perspective changes. Thank you so much for the help from the bottom of my heart.

In these past months, the Columbus Foundation has continued to work with the hospitals Vall d’Hebrón and Sant Joan de Deu, we have also started to do this with the Hospital Gregorio Marañón and with the Hospital of Granada. We also continue to collaborate with the Spanish Association of Cancer.