Family De Keulenaer
In late 2016 Margot, Katrien and Marijke’s Dad suddenly fell ill. The diagnosis was lymphoma. After chemotherapy he was better for a while, but in 2017 he had a relapse. He was able to receive an experimental treatment at UZA, but ultimately died in late 2018. Nevertheless, his three daughters are very grateful to UZA. They tell their story in this testimonial.
In 2017 we were told that Dad had come to the end of his treatment, as they put it – but we were not willing to accept that diagnosis at the time. After failing to get onto a number of studies, we took matters into our own hands and looked for a plan B. We e-mailed all Dad’s records to the haematology department at UZA and immediately received a reply from Prof. Anguille. A week later we were already there talking to him.
The most wonderful thing we remember from that time is that Prof. Anguille did actually offer us some alternatives. He created such a sense of hope and warmth that we were able to see a glimmer of hope again. Prof. Anguille gave us so much through the experimental treatment. Dad was able to spend six weeks at home, and in our family we refer to that time as “the golden spring”. We had some wonderful meals together, family members and friends came to visit and we organised a big party in the garden for Dad’s 69th birthday. As one of the guests wrote on his birthday card: ‘I hope this will be your most beautiful birthday ever’. It truly was!
Thanks to the treatment they were able to remove Dad’s tumour – that didn’t cure him, but it did allow Dad to donate the rare tumour for scientific research. That meant such a lot to him.
Through Dad’s illness and our experience with Prof. Anguille and UZA I noticed that they really did everything possible to treat him, including the very latest medication. That is when you realise for yourself that research truly is the key to innovation. The trial gave us that extra year and the six weeks of our golden spring. That is why we are supporting the immunotherapy carried out by Prof. Anguille and Prof. Berneman.
It is so difficult to find just one hero in our story.
The way Dad handled his illness was truly amazing, so he really does deserve to be called a hero. Dad made a conscious choice to accept his illness – ultimately even the fact that there was no cure – and did not get lost in frustration or anger, but instead found happiness and reasons for gratitude in the tiniest things. In fact Dad taught us something very beautiful in the last months of his life: suffering and illness do not have to be nothing but sorrow and pain. They can also become the start of something really powerful. Mum did everything she could to make things as comfortable as possible for Dad: Mum pulled the cart along, Dad sat on top and the three of us daughters helped push it along.
Prof. Anguille is a real hero too. He even helped us at night, sending text messages to us and the ambulance staff. As a result Dad was able to go to UZA by ambulance rather than just going to the nearest hospital. We think all those we encountered in our story with UZA were heroes: our GP Dr. Paul Van Craenenbroeck, the ambulance staff who were always so respectful and calm, the people in the emergency department, the chaplaincy staff, the cleaners, all of them.
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