Last time I was writing about Staša Bukovec, I did not have extremely good news. She was about to undergo life-changing surgery in a clinic in Austria. We were trying to raise awareness as well as funds – and by ‘we’ I mean her family, her close friends as well as a few great, generous people and companies who were willing to lend a hand in times of need.
Thank you – thank you very much for having helped Staša. She has undergone the surgery and even though not everything went as planned, she is doing better now! Having been in hospital for so long and now having to live with a stoma bag, life is not easy for her, and especially not the long recovery she has to go through.
In short, due to complications from the Crohn’s disease, Staša was no longer able to eat. Anything she attempted to eat would result in severe, excruciating abdominal pains. The diagnostic (which was also established with great delay) was that of a blockage in the bowel; there was no way she could eat anything else. She had to switch to liquid food. Her body weight quickly melted away and at the moment of surgery (April 19) she weighed a little more than my children. Staša is 40 years old.
The doctors could not eliminate the blockade in her bowel, so the only remaining option was to remove the entire bowel section and thus the stoma bag was added to solve the problem of excretion. The good news is that the stoma bag is temporary and she will be able to have a reverse surgery in some time, when her body will have recovered and she will have gained some strength… and kilograms!
Staša is not a rich girl – in the material sense of the word. She could not work for many years due to the progressive worsening of her health; her family is also dealing with many other issues, among which an elderly person that needs constant care and another adult with health issues. With so much on their plate, no wonder this family is exhausted – mentally and emotionally!
Staša is on the other hand, one of the richest and most beautiful people I have ever had the chance of meeting. Strength as hers is rare; she has been and she still is my inspiration, the living proof that all hardships of life can be overcome if one has strong-will and a pure heart.
I have followed her progress constantly and many times I have cried. Here is a woman whose smile could conquer any heart – motionless on a hospital bed, hooked to life-support. It was soul-wrenching for me and her other friends to see her like that – but of course, it was necessary. Her every step towards recovery was a small victory for me as well – the first time she could turn from one side to another in bed, then the first time to stand, the first solid lunch in many, many months; the trip back home and the subsequent complications, adjusting to life with a stoma bag, impromptu-bleeding, trips back to the hospital, fainting, having to go to the dentist (the last thing she needed), re-learning all the things we take for granted ever so often.
Staša is alive and she is getting better and this fills my heart with joy.
But Staša’s problems are far from over! Because the life-saving surgery she has undergone could not be done in her native country, but in Austria, the costs were also big. She hasn’t manged to pay for the surgery yet and the funding campaigns still continue, so if you can, please consider donating. Even a small amount means a lot. This is how we accumulated the funds – small amounts from many kind-hearted people – because we are not rich either. Each does what they can, and it matters.
There are shadows in this story, too, as in all story of health, illness and recovery. To this day it haunts me as a neighbour said about the family: “But they don’t look poor, why are they raising funds? Look, they have a car.” (Yes, they have a car the selling of which would have covered 5% of the surgery costs! And without which, life would have been hell, because Staša cannot walk yet). Other people believed that this story is “a fake”, a fund-raising scam on behalf of which someone would get rich overnight. I will not even comment such affirmations.
But I do not want to end this article on a sad tone. My friend Staša is doing better and this means the world to me. I hope she will soon regain all the strength she had lost and she will begin working on a book about her story, to help and motivate all those who suffer from this terrible disease (or others) and who need this kind of inspiration in their life.
Healing is possible! Just believe in yourself, just like she did.
There were many people who helped, financially and otherwise, and who wanted to remain anonymous. I am lucky enough to know the names of some of them as we kept in touch with each other – lucky to know such angels! I thank them all, and most of all I thank her family who stood by her side, her parents and grandma, strong and dedicated people in front of which I bow.