LELA the Pig has helped many different charities, big and small. When the story of Nicole Rochin from Mazatlan came to our ears, we were deeply moved and decided that LELA the Pig would support this young woman in her struggle against brain cancer. Here is her story:
My name is Nicole Rochín and I just turned 18 years old in the summer of 2013, on July 3rd. Soon after that, I started feeling sick with very strong headaches. I went to the ISSSTE, which is a government hospital in Mazatlán. I got an IV, was given some medicine and I was sent home with the diagnosis of a migraine. Days later nothing had gotten better; the headaches were going from bad to worse and it had become unbearable. I wasn’t able to hold in any food and I wasn’t hungry either. I went back to the hospital two more times and they gave me the same diagnosis.
I went back to the E.R. on July 22nd. This time however the doctors noticed that in addition to my headache, I didn’t have much balance and I was unable to walk a straight line. They checked me into the hospital to run some tests because they couldn’t give me a reason as to why I was having all these problems with a simple migraine. The doctor asked for a C.T. scan and found that my unbearable pain was caused by my skull being filled with fluid which my body was producing as a defense mechanism against a tumor close to my cerebellum.
I finally got a diagnosis!!! Unfortunately, Mazatlán’s ISSSTE doesn’t have the equipment to remove the tumor, and on top of everything else, my family doesn’t have the resources to put me in a private hospital. So instead of one major surgery, I had to get two surgeries. One to place a valve that would drain the liquid out of my skull and a second to remove the tumor.
The same day I was schedule for the first surgery. Early morning on July 23rd, I got the first surgery where they place a valve. Thank God everything went well. The unbearable headaches were finally a thing of the past. I got my balance and appetite back also.
Unfortunately, the Public Health System lacks of a lot of services and equipment, especially in a small town like Mazatlán. Mexico City was the only place I could get the next surgery.
So I had to start the process to get on a waiting list to get a date for the second surgery. By August 7th my mom and I were in Mexico City and I was in the hospital waiting for my turn to get the surgery. During that time the tumor had started messing with my body again. I lost strength and mobility in my right side because of the pressure the tumor was putting on the nerves due to its growth.
On August 12th I was finally on my way to the O.R. The surgery lasted seven hours. The good news is that I survived and I didn’t have any brain damage. The bad news is that due to the location they weren’t able to remove all of it and that it is a Medulloblastoma (a highly malignant brain tumor that originates in the cerebellum).
Within a month my life and priorities had changed completely. Now I had to recover and focus on getting radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I had to set aside my first semester at the University and now I’m in Mexcio City waiting to start the treatment. ISSSTE has a high demand from patients, very little personnel and lack of space, so the wait to get tested, treatment or even medicine takes forever. Sadly, cancer is not the kind of illness that will wait for ISSSTE to have time, space, resources or personnel to start developing. I’m aware that in order to win this battle I have to be treated fast!
For that reason, I’ve been getting some tests in private institutions like M.R.I. and topographies, each test ranging from $5,000 to $8,000 pesos. I have to get them every four to six weeks. I don’t have any family in Mexico City, so having my mom with me has turned into a financial struggle.
I have to attend a Neuropsychologist to get evaluated for any possible damage produced by the surgery or the treatment, but I’ve been putting it off because money has been running really low and each consultation is about $1,000 pesos. Frequently the medication I get prescribed has run out at ISSSTE’s drugstore and I have to buy them myself.
Right now I’m waiting for my turn to start radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I constantly go to the hospital (ISSSTE) to check if I have a date set up, but nothing yet. I’m always hoping next week will be the lucky one and I will get a date.
Words can not express the gratitude I feel for all the support that you gave me this month. I really appreciate all and each of your donations, this is very meaningful to me and my family. With the help of God I’ll be strong enough to continue this journey. This will not keep me from smiling and enjoy my life. Thank you so much. I’ll keep you all in my heart.