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Yelitza, the little peruvian warrior

Yelitza, the little peruvian warrior
Toombow Kids

In the heart of the lush mountains of La Libertad, Peru, lives an extraordinary young girl named Yelitza. At only 11 years old, this little warrior has faced heartbreaking challenges since she was struck by a rare and devastating disease: Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Toombow Kids had the privilege of meeting her as part of a mission to raise awareness and prevention, and to hear her testimony. Full of courage, this young girl showed us that her fight against the disease has not diminished her hope and dreams. We invite you to discover her inspiring story!

When we meet Yelitza, she is sitting in her hospital bed, a radiant smile lighting up her face despite the medical equipment surrounding her. Behind this beautiful smile lies a story of struggle and resilience. A year earlier, in June 2023, Yelitza was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare neurological disease that attacks the peripheral nerves and can lead to complete paralysis. This diagnosis hit the Peruvian girl and her family like a thunderbolt.

It was at the beginning of the summer of 2023 that Yelitza started to feel an unusual weakness. At first, she thought it was simply fatigue from school and playing with her friends. But soon, she realized something was wrong. Her legs no longer responded as they used to, and each day, the weakness seemed to spread.

“Everything started with strange sensations in my legs. I didn’t understand what was happening, then they became weaker and weaker. I was terrified.”

Worried, her mother, Rosa, decided to take her to the doctor. The initial exams revealed anomalies, and very quickly, Yelitza was admitted to the hospital for further tests. The diagnosis came swiftly: Guillain-Barré Syndrome. For Yelitza and her family, it was the beginning of a nightmare. This rare disease, which is increasing in Peru, causes the immune system to attack the nerves. The initial symptoms include weakness and tingling in the legs, which can spread and progress to paralysis. In the most severe cases, the syndrome can affect the respiratory muscles, making it necessary to use a ventilator to help the patient breathe.

“It was a shock for all of us. We didn’t know how to cope with this disease. I felt lost and helpless in the face of what was happening to me.”

explains Yelitza

To make matters worse, the disease progressed rapidly and brutally. Despite the doctors’ best efforts and intensive care, Yelitza gradually lost the use of her limbs. Every day was a battle against the encroaching paralysis. Eventually, she found herself completely paralyzed, dependent on machines to breathe.

“I remember the day I realized I couldn’t move anymore. It was as if the world was collapsing around me. Everything was dark and scary. But I didn’t want to let the disease destroy me.”

Yelitza began intensive rehabilitation, learning to use devices to compensate for the loss of her physical abilities. She also learned to move around in a wheelchair and to use assistive software. Her determination to stay connected to the world and maintain her independence impressed the entire medical staff. The days in the hospital are long and often difficult for the young Peruvian girl. She undergoes painful but essential physiotherapy sessions to prevent muscle atrophy and maintain as much mobility as possible. The doctors and nurses quickly become a second family, offering support and encouragement at every step.

Yelitza’s family plays a crucial role in her journey. Her mother, Rosa, is constantly by her side, holding her hand during tough times and comforting her with kind words. Her father, Santiago, though working hard to support the family, spends every free moment with his daughter, bringing books, drawings, and stories to lift her spirits. Her siblings take turns keeping her company, bringing news from the outside world, and distracting her with games and lively conversations. Her former classmates regularly send letters and drawings, reminding her that she is never alone in her fight.

“My family and friends help me stay strong. They give me the strength to move forward, even when everything seems impossible.”

says Yelitza with gratitude

Despite the daily challenges, Yelitza remains determined to achieve her dream: becoming an artist. Passionate about drawing, she spends hours creating colorful and expressive works and transforming her hospital room into a true art studio. She explores different techniques and styles, even using adaptive technologies to draw despite her physical limitations.

“Drawing is my way of expressing myself, showing that even if my body is weak, my spirit is strong. I want to inspire others to never give up on their dreams, even when life gets tough.”

Yelitza fondly remembers the day a hospital volunteer gave her a set of colored pencils and a sketchbook. This simple gesture deeply touched her. Since then, she has continuously honed her art, even participating in workshops organized by local artists who come to support hospitalized children. Her drawings, often inspired by nature and her childhood memories, are filled with joy and vibrant colors, reflecting her indomitable spirit.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome remains a mysterious and challenging disease to treat. While research is ongoing to better understand its causes and find more effective treatments, it is crucial to continue supporting patients and their families. By sharing stories like Yelitza’s, Toombow Kids hopes to raise public awareness and encourage donations for medical research. Yelitza still has a long road ahead, but with her courage and determination, there is no doubt she will accomplish great things. Her dream of becoming an artist is within reach, and she works every day to achieve it. She continues to prove that nothing is impossible. Bravo Yelitza, and always keep shining!

Mister Cookie Doki
Knock, knock, come in, it's Mr. Cookie Doki, your happiest friend. If you are lying on a hospital bed, this column is for you. I want to see your beautiful smile, so I will send you magic dust that will help you stay connected. Every time you eat a cookie, I will bring you lots of strength and courage. Never give up !