Brazilian striker Patrick Maia, 32, can finally breathe a sigh of relief. He knows he didn’t win the war, but every battle won is a cause for family celebration. His son Luca, just two years old, was released last Friday (9), after 45 days in a hospital in Sutton, south London, where he is being treated for cancer.
In April of this year, the boy was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that affects cells of the sympathetic nervous system, which is part of the autonomic nervous system responsible for controlling breathing, blood pressure, rhythm. heart and digestion. In Luca’s case, when it was discovered, the tumor had already metastasized to the bones and blood.
At the time, Patrick was a player for Marsa, Malta’s second division team and lived in the European country with his two daughters – Clara, 11, and Nina, 10 – his wife Tadira and little Luca. But with the discovery of the disease, everything changed.
Patrick interrupted his career to devote himself, alongside his wife, to 100% care for the boy. The mother did not leave the hospital at all, while Patrick, the only English speaker in the family, arrived there every day at around 8 a.m., and did not leave until around 10 p.m., to make sure that someone ‘one was following all the explanations and instructions. medical. The girls had to return to Brazil, because the family is unable to keep them there, and they are with their maternal grandparents in Belém.
The idea is, by the end of the year, to reunite the family again. But for that you need money. In an interview with UOL, Patrick claims that the treatment, which can reach 1 million euros (almost R $ 7 million at the current price) is funded through a partnership between the governments of Malta and the United Kingdom.
It does lighten things up a lot, but the deal does not cover family expenses in England. The couple are counting on the help of the Brazilian community in Malta. Plus, he promotes kittens and online raffles to bring girls back to Europe.
You can’t work, but you have to eat, move around, dress, and winter is coming here. This is something that we need this support to be able to continue with Luca without having a great desperation beyond what we are already going through.
The idea is to collect R $ 230,000 from the online kit. Until Tuesday (12), donations amounted to nearly R $ 63,000.
The couple have also received solidarity from players like Thiago Silva, Chelsea and the Brazilian national team. The defender donated an England team jersey autographed by his teammates, but Patrick has already said he will keep it for his son.
“Luca still does not understand the greatness of Thiago Silva. But when he gets older you can be sure he will see one of the best and biggest defenders in football. Imagine if I raffle a jersey like this and Luca becomes a football fan in the future. He beats me. I’m going to take a picture and put it in his room, ”the father predicts.
Treatment can last at least a year and a half
The family discovered the disease after the boy fell. Patrick says that although the two events are unrelated, after the domestic accident Luca lost his appetite, sleep and balance, setting off the alarm in his parents.
“He was always playful, he ran around the house, ate well, slept well and continued to smile. Then he changed completely, he started not eating, not sleeping well, having a fever. Everything he tried to eat, vomited, there was no more joy. So we started to worry.
When he and Tadira took their son to the hospital, they were diagnosed.
It was a huge success. We always imagine our children as the strongest, the best in the world, the smartest. We were devastated by that time and it took a few days to sink in. It was very difficult to assimilate.
Immediately the boy underwent the first stage of treatment, which should last at least a year and a half.
“He had the chemotherapy phase in Malta, he was hospitalized for 93 days. But in Malta, they don’t have the support they need for every treatment because it’s too long and there are some things they don’t have there, ”he explains.
In this first phase, doctors expected the tumor, lodged in the chest region and connected to the spine, to shrink by 50% so that he could undergo surgery, which would be performed in England.
“We came [para Londres] to perform the surgery. But when the surgeon, in charge of Luca’s case, saw the exams and was not happy with the size of the tumor. I had to slow down further. This is where the extra and higher doses of chemotherapy came in. “
In addition to delaying the end of treatment a little longer, which consists of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy and redemption (monitoring to prevent the tumor from coming back), the application of the high high devastated the boy’s immune system.
For us, father and mother, it was the worst of ten days of treatment. It was terrible to see him in bed, without any strength because his immunity was totally destroyed. He had a stem cell transplant to recover. There are a lot of symptoms, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, so much pain that he was directly on morphine.
The most difficult phase of treatment so far is behind us, and father and mother have already been able to celebrate a new battle won by Luca, who continues to return to the hospital every week and undergo tests for the doctors are evaluating whether he has another round of chemotherapy or he is already fit to undergo surgery.
“We are very satisfied with the landfill. We can breathe air that is different from the hospital environment. Our relief was that he went through another step without further complications, besides the expected effects of the treatment, which is super dangerous even with a risk of death, and he won.
Heart problem almost made career impossible
And winning battles doesn’t seem like new to Patrick’s family. He almost gave up playing football himself because of a heart problem he discovered when he was only 20 years old.
Born in Salinas, on the Pará coast, Patrick moved to professional Remo in 2007. After a loan season in Suriname, the player, who was still a midfielder, returned to the Pará team.
At the end of 2008, he underwent routine testing at the start of the season and was diagnosed with an abnormality called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which is an additional pathway that allows additional electrical impulses to pass through the heart, causing arrhythmias, dizziness, fainting. , among other symptoms.
It is common for people with the syndrome not to have any symptoms or to develop the disease. But as Patrick is a footballer, he found himself between two options: surgery, which he said had a 99% chance of going badly, or abandoning his career.
It took six months to opt for the surgery. He was operated on in June and by September he was back on the lawn. It was around this time that he met coach Sinomar Naves, who convinced him to leave the position of defensive midfielder and become a striker.
“The coach called me and said:‘ You have a very good submission, you are tall, you have good posture. Are we going to practice the attack? ‘ I said, ‘I have nothing to lose. I’ve beaten heart disease before, what are striker workouts? ‘ During the first training, a collective against one of the youth teams, I scored three goals. He said: “Patrick, you are not a defensive midfielder, you are a striker now.”
Despite the good season he did not renew with Remo and spent a period working in smaller teams inside Pará, Amapá and Tocantins, until in 2016 he got what he calls “the great opportunity of life”. It was an invitation to play at Hamrun Spartans, one of the biggest clubs in Malta.
“Not all players who play in Europe are millionaires,” he says. “It’s the same as playing for a small team in Brazil. The difference is that we have a full year of contract. In Brazil, we play three, four months in the state and have to give our life to have what to live the rest of the year. year “.
Patrick also passed through Santa Lucía, Malta; InPostage Quindio, from Colombia and Deportivo San Pedro from Guatemala. When he was in the latter, his son was born in Brazil. The player only met him after five months.
During his soccer walks, the distance from the family bothered Patrick. So when the perpetrator was offered to return to Malta, this time to Marsa, he demanded that he be able to take his wife and children. Marsa gladly agreed, and the family landed in Europe in September 2020. A month later, the whole family was diagnosed with covid, which Patrick spent three days in the hospital.
Due to two quarantines – the arrival and the diagnosis – he was unlikely to return to the pitch, but he scored eight goals in the 20/21 season. Shortly after, with the tightening of health measures in Malta, the championship was suspended, and in July, the striker’s contract was terminated.
Faced with so many battles won by the Maia family, Patrick is convinced that the fight against cancer will be another.
Luca is the strongest guy I have ever met in my life. He is an example, an inspiration. When people say, “Wow, you are so strong”. I accept the praise. But for me, who is really strong is Luca because, despite everything he’s been through, he always smiles, jokes and tries to make us smile.
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