By Josh Saunders
A Lawyer who dismissed her deadly cancer as ‘bad flu’ is now celebrating miraculously being cancer free – after part of her lung had to be removed.
Karla Lora-Cabán, 24, was unaware of how dangerous her unusual symptoms were – including losing one and half stone and suffering from anaemia, night sweats, fevers, asthma and a bad cough.
She was 16 when the ailments began, only worsened over the following two years, as doctors diagnosed her with everything from arthritis to dermatitis and flu.
But after creams, cough syrups and iron tablets failed to treat her, an x-ray revealed a large mass on her right lung.
Karla was diagnosed with stage four diffuse large b-cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of blood cancer, which if left untreated – due to symptoms typically appearing later-on – can lead to death.
After coughing up blood, she was rushed for emergency surgery to remove half of her lung and would go onto have chemotherapy and her lungs drained three times.
Following a third relapse three last year, it was believed she was destined to die, only receiving treatment to prolong and improve her quality.
But two months ago, it was miraculously revealed that her cancer was gone, baffling doctors who can’t figure out why she is in the clear for the first time in four years.
Karla, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, said: “Looking back I attributed all of my symptoms to other things, which is why these types of cancer are so hard to diagnose.
“When I started coughing really badly, given my autoimmune condition, asthma and anaemia, I didn’t pay much attention to it, thinking it was merely bad flu.
“The cough became worse and with chest pains, along with the weight loss came night sweats, skin rashes and sporadic fevers.
“I was told the chest pain was arthritis and prescribed a cough syrup, then for the rash was told it was dermatitis and giving topical cortisone, and then given iron for my anaemia.
“No doctors could tell me what was going wrong with me, so I continued to get worse and worse.
“A few weeks later after having an x-ray, they found a mass that after weeks of testing revealed a cyst on my right lung.
“When I started coughing blood, I was rushed-in for emergency surgery which resulted in the removal of half of my lung, two surgeries, ten days in a coma and a three month stay in ICU.
“After my second relapse, I was given a trach, chemo and treatment for anaemia, high acid uric levels and kidney treatments
“My body hadn’t responded well to treatment and I had never been N.E.D – no evidence of disease.
“Doctors were not looking for remission and it was believed that a cure was no longer a possibility, instead they looked to prolong my life and improve my quality of life.
“But as of now, I am miraculously cancer free for the first time in four years and doctors are not sure why.
“Being diagnosed at stage four and with many complications my doctor never thought i would get past my first chemotherapy. But here I am, three relapses later, outliving my prognosis.
“Obviously when they told me, I never thought it was possible, i thought i was going to die, I even wrote goodbye letters to close friends and family.”
Karla believes her positive mindset helped her continue in her battle with the common type of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – which is the most aggressive type – and through three relapses.
She turned to online support groups, meeting cancer survivor Lorenz Dries, 30, from Antwerp, Belgium, who fought off bone cancer and leukaemia.
His traumatic journey left him needing multiple surgeries to reconstruct his jaw.
After speaking to one another online for several years, he flew out to meet her and helped her battle through her second relapse.
Karla said: “We soon realised that we not only shared cancer and our journey through acceptance from our scars.
“We also realised how similar our life perspectives are, the way we feel and see the world after the big C is very similar.”
The pair helped one another through understanding the challenges cancer presented them with and learning to love their scarring from surgeries.
Lorenz, a YouTube and Vlogger, said: “At times you feel like the whole world around doesn’t understand you, but I felt we did due to going through cancer.
“All of the sudden you’re at the bottom of the barrel, people look at you as a cancer patient, like you’re weak and a sick entity which can be hard.
“Even though I have a huge facial scar, it’s less bad for a man than a woman the way our society is built in a superficial sense to judge women by way they look.
“She was able to help me with many of my insecurities, self-doubts and low moments, we can relate to each other on a whole other level.
“I definitely feel we were very lucky to come into each other’s lives when we did”
Karla is now cancer-free, only needing check-up appointments every two months and a scan every six months.
Now her and Lorenz are planning to join forces to become public speakers all over the world, using their stories and new mindset to inspire others.
Karla said: “I love the connection we have, how we can express our feelings and emotions and sometimes irrational fears with each other.
“We are more aware of what each other is going through and we know how the other one feels because we have been through the same.”
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF LYMPHOMA
-Coughing with blood or chronic coughing
-Heavy night sweats
-Risk or frequent infections
-Weak immune system
-Skin rashes and bruising
-Rapid weight loss/ loss of appetite