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Story of Peter Kapitein

I was diagnosed with a follicular lymphoma on January 7, 2005 thanks to a check-up for my cholesterol which, after a confirmative diagnosis, showed that I had cancer. It was unexpected, but immediately properly diagnosed and my treatment started right away. My chances were high. 

In 2006 I had a relapse and I had my second treatment with chemotherapy. A novel treatment that worked for only 10 months. I started a trial with immunotherapy in November and December 2007. This treatment was only successful for 2 or 3 months. The last resort was an allogenic bone marrow transplant. I had 3 intense months of preparation with chemotherapy in March, April and May 2008. The preparation was not good enough, it only reduced my tumour by 50% and that would not make the allogenic transplantation successful. As another ‘preparation’ I had 10 days of high dose chemotherapy followed by an autologic stem cell transplantation. In the end, the final successful allogenic and unrelated stem cell transplantation took place on September 3, 2008. I left the hospital the following day with 34 different medicines to stay alive. Although still in danger of heavy rejections and potential death, my condition was good and my quality of life pretty close to 100% shortly after the transplant. One year later I considered myself cured, although my disease is not really curable. The disease is ‘under control’ and I have check-ups twice a year. 

I had the luck of living in a rich country that can afford all this. The final transplant alone cost € 100 000 and all the other treatments before probably cost as much. 

It is simply unfair that I had access to all this when most people in the world don’t. We should change that. Simply because we are all human beings and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to leave other human beings behind. We can do better. 

Peter Kapitein