Lilia Gritsay, a LISOD patient, shared her story with us. Now she looks to the future with hope, travels, works and even writes a book. But when the disease was first discovered, it was very difficult.
— Lilia, please tell us how you learned about the disease?
— I am one of those people who are examined immediately, as soon as something starts to bother them. Therefore, when I felt the ball in my chest, I immediately went for an ultrasound scan. The diagnostician reassured me that everything was fine, it was just a hormonal imbalance and everything would go away in a month. However, after a month, the lump did not disappear, but increased. After another examination, the gynecologist prescribed hormonal pills for me, which I took for about three months. At that time, I lived in Poland, finished my studies in Lublin and moved to Warsaw. There I turned to another specialist. But the doctor did not take my complaints seriously. Of course, no one could have thought that at such a young age there could be cancer. I insisted that I have an ultrasound scan. This time, conducting the examination, the specialist said: “I don’t want to scare you, but there is something scary here”. I didn't waste any more time and immediately returned home to Ukraine. In Lviv, I had a biopsy and it was confirmed that the tumor was malignant.
The news made me stupor. It seemed that all this was not happening to me. I realized that I needed to stay in my home country and get medical treatment, and since I had lived abroad for 7 years, this was also a difficult moment. What worried me the most was that during the treatment I would be helpless...
— Why did you decide to undergo treatment in Ukraine and not in Poland?
— Since they could not immediately diagnose me in Poland, I was very disappointed and said that if I was destined to live, I would survive in Ukraine. At first I was treated in Lviv, where I underwent chemotherapy. And at the Israeli Oncological Hospital - surgery, radiation and targeted therapy. After the surgery, when I already knew and experienced myself what an attitude towards a patient could be, I realized that I want to continue to feel comfortable and calm. I would like to note that I would need to buy targeted drugs both in Lviv and in LISOD. At the same time, the difference in price was insignificant, because a private clinic was more expensive only because of the cost of a day hospital. But here it is impossible to imagine the situation that I faced in Lviv: the courier who was supposed to deliver the drug to me, we had to wait all day. These are nerves, fatigue and excitement. But in the Israeli Oncological Hospital, everything is clear, on schedule and organized.
— How did you get into LISOD?
— I was advised to this hospital in the Lviv oncology community. At first I planned to have a surgery in Lviv, I found a seemingly good doctor. During the consultation, I asked him what would happen to my breasts (after all, I am 24 years old, my whole life is ahead!), And he said: "Well, how can the mammary glands look after cancer treatment?" He said in plain text that he would cut everything out, and perhaps in 2 years it would be possible to think about reconstruction. But this is not what he does. That is, it would be necessary to look for some other specialist who can carry out the necessary intervention.
I understood that I was not the first to go through this. And I remembered the story of one woman who, according to her own experience, advised a wonderful specialist, noting that you can just go to a advisory, hear a second opinion, and then make a decision. And the next day I bought a ticket to Kiev. I had little time left, at that time I had already gone through 7 out of 8 chemotherapies.
At LISOD, I met with Andrii Zhygulin – and just from the first words I realized that this was my doctor! We talked for an hour and a half! He showed photographs of his patients. At the same time, Lviv refused to show me the work, indicating that I was not at the bazaar. As for me, it is very important for the patient to roughly understand what the final result might be. And when you are brushed aside, then there can be simply no trust in such a doctor ...
Andrey Valentinovich not only told the whole theory, he named all the possible risks and complications that may arise after the surgery. He showed what the breast looks like immediately after the surgery and after a year or two. Finally, Andrii Zhygulin told me: "You have time, you can think." And I answered: “I don’t want to think, I have already made a decision!” And immediately agreed. This is how my LISOD adventure began.
In general, there are many wonderful specialists in the hospital, to whom I am grateful and whom I remember all the time. For example, I also really liked the rehabilitation therapist Svetlana Koval. You know, during the treatment, everyone was very sorry for me. First of all, my mother, who saw how hard it was for me. After the operation, I could neither raise nor turn my arm. And here Svetlana came in and said: "We do this - no options!" I remember when we put on the sleeve, I screamed so much, it hurt so much ... But from that moment on I began to work constantly, practiced every day, Svetlana came, controlled, checked, helped - and now my hands work the same way. I believe that this is due to the fact that they did not spare me, but did what was needed.
I am also sincerely grateful to the psychologist Yanina Dziuba. She helped me regain my peace of mind before and after the surgery.
— At what point did you believe in yourself and that recovery is possible?
— Having learned about the diagnosis, I began to search the Internet for stories of women with about the same case. Not much information was received. And later I found out that a friend of my aunt, who lives in the USA, has the same diagnosis. Moreover, she has been in remission for 10 years. From the first day, when I was already in the mood for a fight, she called me every day, told me step by step what awaits me, how this or that procedure goes, how I will feel. And this gave me great faith that I was doing everything right, that everything would work out for me and that victory awaited me! When you have a plan and you follow it, follow it point by point, then you understand that this is a situation that you can handle. Everything's under control. Yes, it was hard and at some moments I didn't even want to live, but then, gritting my teeth, I still moved on.
And at the very beginning, when the disease was confirmed, I had terrible despair and depression. For two weeks I did nothing, just lay there and thought that I was going to die. Then my friend became the best motivator. She very much asked me not to give up, and said the following phrase: “Well, okay, you will die, you will not care. But I will stay and it will hurt! " I thought about these words and decided to try to fight.
And now I am sharing my story, because I want other women who have been diagnosed with the disease not to lose faith. So that they understand that the operation is not only about “delete everything”. That it is possible and necessary to ask a doctor questions in order to choose exactly that specialist whom you trust 100%!
— What helped you to regain strength during the treatment?
— From the very beginning, it helped me a lot to communicate with the same girls and women like me, that is, with those who were diagnosed with cancer. We talked, they helped me with advice. And then I realized that life goes on during the treatment! And at every opportunity, in the intervals between chemotherapy or with the introduction of targeted drugs, she participated in various activities. For example, she starred in photo shoots, became a model in advertising for wigs, branded scarves and clothing. I was constantly interviewed. And also – I was invited to shoot in Malta. And I agreed!
In addition, during treatment, I began to write. I actively blog on Facebook (@ liliia.hrytsai). I'm finishing my book now.
And I have always not only sought consolation for myself, but also supported others - both those who have illness and those who are healthy.
— What advice would you give to those who are just starting to move down this path?
— First, look for people with the same diagnosis who are already in remission, have recovered. Their stories and experiences are very helpful and inspiring.
Secondly, make the most of your life! Try different things, even those that you didn't have the courage to do before. For example, a horse ride became such a step for me. I tried to paint my first painting in my life, although I had never held a brush in my hands before. And at the age of 25, I pasted a photo with a bald head into my passport. (This is not necessary, it was only my desire, but bald I was prettier than in a wig.)
And thirdly, choose the doctors you trust. Life is wonderful and worth fighting for!