Petrea Sirbu

Petrea Sirbu receives a donation of Oncaspar

Petrea 8-years-old sits with a wad of paper money in his hand. His mother explains to us how this pile of money has become his comforter. For the past 4 years Vera has had to struggle to earn enough money to pay for Petrea’s treatment.

Maybe he feels comforted by all the notes as he knows it’s exactly what he needs to be able to recover. Vera, Petrea’s mother explains to us that today he is feeling good. His face is swollen and pale from the treatment and his stomach bloated. These are common side effects of the chemotherapy, which Petrea has to undergo. For the past 4 years, he has been suffering from Leukemia. 

After being diagnosed with Leukemia aged 4, in 2010, Petrea has been in and out of hospital, trying many different types of chemotherapies. As is custom in Moldova, Vera had to stay in the ward with Petrea during his treatment, the longest time was 9 months. 

When you get sick in Moldova, the state health insurance only covers the basic needs. This entitles you to a bed in a hospital. The rest has to be sought by family and friends. Vera’s situation at home did not improve and her husband took to the drink. When things were really bad he would beat her. 

Vera’s priority is her only child Petrea, and as she was thinking of both of them when she filed for a divorce. Luckily she has the support from her parents who live with her. Unfortunately, her mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer! 

With her husband no longer bringing in a steady income, and having already sold all of their land. Vera took it upon herself, now with two sick family members to care for, to go to Russia to find better-paid work. This seasonal work, on a construction site was physically demanding and meant that she had to be away from her boy for long stretches at a time.

With an improving income, and her husband gone, things were certainly improving for Vera and Petrea. Vera even began to think about finding a second husband, and possibly the chance of giving Petrea the baby brother he so badly wishes for. But as if life hadn’t thrown enough hardships at her, in January 2014, whilst away in Russia she got the news that Petrea’s health was deteriorating.

Scared and hopeless she immediately returned back to Moldova from Russia. Vera describes this news as “the sky falling in”. Her world was falling apart, and dreams of starting life a fresh with a new man have to be put on hold. Petrea’s leukemia had returned. Now 8 years old, they would have to return to the Cancer Hospital and stay for the entire time of treatment. 

The hospital then attempted for the next 9 months to treat Petrea with Asparaginase, the side effects were terrible for him. He suffered from stomatitis and his mobility became very limited. After a few months the doctors advised Vera to try and find Oncaspar for Petrea, as nothing else seemed to be helping his situation.

He was going to need 8 vials over the next two / three years. This therapy would not come cheap. The next challenge began, how to afford more treatment and where to find Oncaspar, a chemotherapy that isn’t even registered in Moldova. 

Vera guesses she has spent over 20,000€ over the past four years for treatments. Now she has nothing left. Being the tough laborer that she is, she earned some money helping the hospital renovate one of the buildings that had just got sponsorship. Whilst Petrea was suffering in bed, his mum was in the hallways painting and laying the new floor. Her determination and a lucky contact to a Russian student enabled her to buy two vials of Oncaspar.

These were not cheap and she was so relieved and grateful to have been able to find the medicines. Once the first two vials were used up, the hospital discharged Petrea and he returned home with his mother. She has no means left to afford even just a third vial of Oncaspar. 

Krebsallianz met Petrea and Vera just one week after they were discharged from hospital. Helpless and yet so thankful that we were trying to help; Vera sheds tears when we meet. She explains to us that she never imagined that she would become a beggar.

The fact that medicines are so expensive came as such a shock to her. Now she is trying to find a way to provide the next vial for Petrea, and this is where Krebsallianz wishes to help. 

Vera has proven how hard she is willing to work for the well being of her son and is modestly requesting only one vial of Oncaspar. Krebsallianz in correspondance with the Moldovan charity Coram Deo are determined to fulfill the wishes of this mother in despair. The next treatment of Oncaspar for Petrea needs to take place in Moldova by the end of October. Vera is not asking for all 6 vials, she is searching for one. Searching for a chance for her 8-year-old son. 

We ask Petrea what he enjoys most. He shows us his home-made rocket which he crafted from a torch and some straws. “This is a rocket” he explains, “and the straws are where the fire comes out”. He shows us his tank, made from a mosquito repellent plug, and “this is a tank” he exclaims before having to set it back down. His body reacts when it comes into contact with metal; his mother explains to us how sensitive he is. 

He tells us about school; whilst he was in remission he enjoyed going to school very much. Sometimes it was hard because the other children wouldn’t play with him due to how he looked and also they were scared that they would catch something off him. 

Whilst in hospital he was home schooled by his mother. He also made many friends and is beginning to miss them, yet all in all they are happier to be home. In the hospital when somebody leaves, everyone else gets jealous and it’s hard to accept that you have to stay there. Petrea’s favourite subjects are Romanian, maths and drawing. He enjoys reading poems and stands proudly to show us all of his diplomas. He enjoys being taught by his mum as well, Vera laughs and says she gets to go back to school too!

As we say our goodbyes Vera’s eyes begin to well up. “When I heard you wanted to help us, I said Thank-you to God for hearing my prayers”