Story of Triumph
By Fani Tsakanikas
want to thank Helen Smith for creating this website and for putting
me in touch with people like myself for the first time ever in
these years I was alone in my battles with the GT and many
times I wished for meeting someone who knows my pain and
can identify with my battles. When I first came upon this
website I cried. I was overwhelmed with the connection I
had yearned for all those years. Here is my story; it’s
a story of determination and sheer gut to challenge the
doctors who said I should not even consider having a child.
I live my life to the fullest everyday and when I have little
hills to climb I just climb them.
I was born
in Toronto in the year of 1963 to immigrant Greek parents who
came to Canada to start a new life. I was their first-born and
6months after my birth my mother noticed that I was always bruised
and had a tendency to have light nosebleeds. After a trip to Sick
Children’s Hospital a doctor of hematology by the name of
Peter Mcleaur gave my parents the diagnosis of Glanzmanns Thrombasthenia,
Macleaur was my doctor till I turned 20. He was my hero and
one of the greatest hematologists that had dedicated his life
to his patients and the hospital. He gave mother a description
of what my life might entail, the heavy hemorrhaging when
I was to start my menses, the possibility of severe nosebleeds,
or bleeding in the brain and intestinal track. Life looked
hopeless at first for my parents and me.
I did however
show them other wise. You see I was a feisty independent little
tomboy who loved adventure and climbing and just having fun. Did
I tell you about the time I climbed to the school roof…..that’s
For some incredible
reason I was not one of the heavy bleeders they had anticipated.
While growing up I experienced some tonsil bleeds that required
some platelet transfusions, and in 1968 while on a trip to Greece
with my mother I had a bleed from my tonsils that required on
blood transfusion. As far as nosebleeds went I had a few that
seemed to be controlled by applying pressure, nothing to serious.
In the summer
of 1974 I went on a trip to Greece with my mother and this was
during the time that my mother observed that I was starting to
develop. We went to a very holy place where the icon of the Virgin
Mary has been said to perform many miracles. This was and island
called Tinos and the legend has it that the icon was found by
sailors during the time of the Ottoman Empire occupation. The
Greeks of the island witnessed many miracles when the icon came
into their ownership. It is said to have saved them from slaughters
and from men and women dying in the sea. However in more modern
time a church was built and donated to the icon by the people
of the island and it was during this time that miracles started
to occur so much so that people would undertake a pilgrimage to
this destination to heal the sick and the blind. I too took this
pilgrimage at the age of 11 and prayed to the icon to help me
not to have heavy bleeding and to bless me with one child.
Imagine the burden one child so young had to carry having been
told that there was a possibility I could not have children.
the much anticipated time for me to start my period. It was right
after the trip to Greece and when my menses came and I was able
to have medium to some heavy bleeding but they would start and
stop on their own. First sigh of relief, this continued my entire
adolescence to my now adult life, however I did start the Birth
Control pill when I was 17 and continued till 43.
to 1984-85 when I discovered I was pregnant with my daughter who
was born in September of 1988.
very exciting time a doctor from Sick Children’s in Toronto
contacted me and asked me to come in to give a blood sample for
research. I explained to this Dr. Doyle that I was pregnant and
traveling was not always easy for me as I lived and hour and a
half from Toronto. He then went on to say that it would be very
necessary to meet with me, as there would be things they had to
monitor and he said there were risks I needed to be made aware
of. I was 6 months pregnant at the time and this was somewhat
scary. I made the trip and sure enough the information I received
was vital. You see they had to monitor my antibody level because
if antibodies were found they would lower the babies platelet
count and delivering vaginally was not an option because the baby
could have hemorrhaged in the brain. At the same time having a
C-section performed was not conducive to my condition because
the cutting to caused a great deal of bleeding.
obstacle I faced with this pregnancy were all the issues of things
that could go wrong with a regular pregnancy but now I was considered
a high-risk pregnancy.
So I was put into the hands of a wonderful doctor at Mt. Sinai
and he and a group of great doctors worked very hard in coming
up with a plan to deliver my baby safely and guarantee my own
safety. I delivered a healthy baby girl and after the birth I
did experience some minor bleeding episodes however they were
controlled and after 24 days in hospital I was sent home…..did
I tell you that my baby was one of the most beautiful little girls
they had ever seen. Oh and one more thing an epidural was not
an option for someone with GT, so I had her completely drug free….it
was a 12 hour labor.
to the year 2000 when I experienced a massive upper GI bleed that
landed me in hospital for 14 days and close to death. I did however
pull through and subsequently had about 7-8 more upper GI bleeds
that were more controlled thanks to that wonder drug Cyclocapron
or better known as Tranexamic acid. God bless the individual who
made this drug. I since take a dose of it every day and more if
I suspect an upper GI bleed and a prevacid everyday.
year I had a hysteroscopy and an endometrial ablation. I noticed
heavy bleeding and clotting and my blood was always low so I had
the procedure and it has helped me a great deal.
For me I
have to keep a constant eye on my hemoglobin levels as well as
my ferratin levels so that if there is bleeding I have better
chances. I go 3-4 times a year to the hospital for iron infusions
done intravenously since taking iron supplements do not help as
I have a
beautiful daughter Samantha who is now 18 and this year I am going
back to that island in Greece called Tinos to make another pilgrimage
to thank the Virgin Mary for helping me through and to triumph
through my life to far….God is good and I am living proof
that miracles do happen everyday.