Savva is a young Russian doctor who has been suffering from lymphoma for many years. He now has a chance to travel to the US for the lifesaving treatment, but needs our help to raise funds. Below is a letter from Savva:
Greetings! I am Savva and I am 26 years old.
From a young age, I knew what I would study – definitely medicine. Most of all I wanted to learn science while balancing it with with medical activities. I sincerely
dreamed and continue to dream of saving lives. One way or another.
The first 3 years of college flew by in an instant. I felt very happy – after all, my life turned out the way I dreamed. In the summer of 2017, the plans included a long-awaited medical internship in Mexico. But I was not destined to get to Mexico. Illness came into my life.
It all started with pain in my right shoulder. X-ray of the shoulder showed that everything was fine with it, but another problem came up as a complete surprise. I remember walking with the
X-ray images in my hands and tears involuntarily welling up in my eyes. But the tears were not for myself, but for my mother, whom I will soon have to tell the news.
The final diagnosis after biopsy was Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I will say a banal phrase, but life is really divided into before and after. Life before illness was clear and measured. In the life after, nothing could be predicted. At the very beginning of my illness, as a medical student, not for a single moment did I doubt that after an academic leave and a course of treatment, I will recover and will soon continue my studies at the university. Hodgkin’s lymphomas respond well to treatment, as we were told. But everything turned out to be much more complicated and already the count goes on for years, years spent in trips to hospitals in St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Tomsk. It became my new reality.
I am infinitely grateful to all doctors and charities who every day, faced with human grief, do not become indifferent, and retain care and sensitivity, and help those who like me in their struggle for the right to live. There was no rapid progress in treatment, and without college studies I could no longer live. I returned again to university, without waiting for a complete remission – I was so ready to study. A year of treatment on targeted drugs in parallel with studies, and then another academic leave. Treatment and study, study and treatment, chemotherapy courses and lessons in
which I sometimes felt sick because of the side effects of chemo. I was taking a couple of minutes off to get antiemetics so that I could at least sit through a class.
Then radiation therapy and my first remission, which lasted a year and a half. Doctors advised during this period to go for an allogeneic transplantation from a donor, but no matching donors were found for me either in Russian or in foreign registries. Despite years of endless treatments, chemotherapy and a series of relapses, I continued to live, study, and write scientific articles. I learned to program and most most importantly, in 2022, I finally received a diploma of higher medical education and now I’m a doctor. This is my biggest win so far.
Unfortunately, autologous stem cell transplant was ineffective in my case, and the lymphoma continues to progress. At present, my treating physicians are requesting an advisory opinion for
definition of a new treatment strategy. Effective modern approach in the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, taking into account the resistance of the tumor and the absence of a donor, is possible by using CAR-T therapy. In Russia, this method is at the stage of clinical trials and was used in several clinics in Moscow prior to the war with Ukraine. Since March 2022, this treatment is no longer available in Russia. Treatment abroad costs close to a million dollars. My family simply does not have that kind of money, and it is very difficult to raise this amount. At the moment, the only chance to access CAR-t therapy, which can save my life is to get into clinical trials in the USA. I received a response from a clinic in Texas with with an estimate of $250,000. The money will be used for supporting therapy, accommodation, tests and labs. Fortunately, the therapy itself is free, otherwise it’s difficult to imagine how much it would cost. I am turning to you for help in raising funds for CAR-t therapy. I believe in my own recovery and I am am hopeful that my participation in the trial will bring about new methods of treatment, and medicine will find modern effective means and methods that in the future will save thousands of human lives – someone’s sons and daughters, fathers and mothers.