Monday 25 March 2019, 15:09

The Atletico fan helping in the battle against cancer

  • Atleti fan Jarabo needed funding to finish her doctorate

  • Researching one of the most aggressive types of brain tumour

  • Funding finally secured with help of fellow Atleti fans

“I was watching Getafe play Atletico when…”

Suddenly it occurred to Patricia Jarabo that she might just have the solution to her problem. The young molecular biologist had run out of funding to finish her research on glioblastoma, the most common and lethal form of brain cancer.

“The problem with this disease,” she explains, “is that while there is an effective drug to treat it, there’s not enough time. It’s a very aggressive tumour – the average life expectancy of patients is just 14 months from diagnosis. There’s not much time to administer it, but if we can open a window of time to give this drug, then there’s a chance that patients can recover.”

After two years of work and a lot of “courage and heart”, as per one of the mottos of her beloved Atletico Madrid, Patricia was beginning to get promising results. But all her efforts would be for nothing remain if she couldn’t obtain sufficient funding to finish this doctoral research.

So, what to do? Watching her team take on Getafe in a Madrid derby, Patricia stumbled on the idea of asking her club for help.

From then it became a race against the clock. She sent her proposal to the club’s Foundation along with a video and CV, and also sought help from the Unión de Peñas del Atleti (Atletico’s Association of Supporters’ Clubs). “From the very first moment, everyone in the peñas said ‘we’re with you.” Patricia also posted the video on her social networks, from where it was picked up by media outlets.

“From the moment I started this, there’s not been a single moment when I’ve been alone. Just when I begin to think there might be no more doors to knock on, those helping me tell me ‘not to worry’ and ‘we’ll keep trying’. Atletico’s mottos – ‘never stop believing’ and ‘you’ll never walk alone’ are not just words… I’ve never been alone on this quest. In the end I was right to keep the faith as something did happen,” she says with a smile.

Never stop believing

The club’s Foundation was interested in her case but could not finance the project in the required time frame. She would have had to wait many months without any guarantee of a yes at the end of it all, and Patricia had no time to lose. However, she refused to throw in the towel, saying, “you can’t give up because things don’t work out for you. You have to keep striving and wanting it.”

It was precisely then that a fairy godmother appeared in the form of Jose Maria Nunez, the CEO of Khalifa Capital, an investment group that sponsors the Unión de Peñas del Atleti, who decided to support Patricia’s research project. “Everything’s been happening very fast – especially for the world of science. It’s been unusually quick!”

In all, it took less than three months from when Patricia started her search for funding to signing the new contract. As she herself said on her social networks, “Dreams do come true. I tried and along the way I met wonderful people who helped me.” Now, this fan of Fernando Torres and Diego Simeone’s team will be able to continue doing her part to conquer cancer with ‘courage and heart’.