Franco Duerme was rushed to an ER on August 22nd, 2014. After an emergency helicopter ride to Seattle and a moment when his heart stopped briefly, he was diagnosed with Lymphoma – a form of cancer that affects the immune system. He remained hospitalized for two and a half months, three weeks out of which – in a pseudo-coma, with a breathing tube down his throat.
You don’t expect that to happen to a 22-year-old – that’s how old Franco Duerme was a year ago, when he was diagnosed.
At 22, you spend your time focusing on the big picture. A life-threatening illness has its way of forcing you to look at the small picture instead.
In the midst of doctor’s appointments, cycles of chemotherapy, and long hospitalizations, while he was fighting the countless invisible imprints left by an enemy he couldn’t see, feel or touch, Franco Duerme tried to organize his days around small things that brought him happiness. Dota 2 is one of those things.
I write this after finishing a game of Dota 2 (which I won, by the way), listening to the Book of Mormon Soundtrack, on my old gaming PC now situated in my old room, at my parents’ house, and while starting to watch The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s days like this that remind myself that my old life hasn’t gone anywhere.
While Franco’s battle is not over yet, he is starting to catch a glimpse of the big picture, once again. He’s writing a book about his journey and planning to attend next year’s Dota 2 International.
Although he now lives 15 blocks away from Seattle’s KeyArena, where The International 5 will take place, Franco won’t be able to keep up with the tradition and attend this year’s event. He has just undergone two transplants and his immune system is not ready to cope with big crowds yet.
He took to Reddit to share his story with fellow Dota 2 fans and ask them to send him a TI5 badge for his Dota 2 collection.
I need one thing from TI5. A badge. I’ve worn every TI badge to every single International, and I’m going to be missing this year’s badge. I want to go to TI6 and I want to be able to still keep on this sort of pointless tradition that I’ve been keeping up.
Franco’s plea did not go unnoticed. The community’s response was overwhelming. He was contacted by a Valve employee, a professional Dota 2 caster, and a bunch of fellow Dota 2 fans and Seattleites, who offered him TI5 badges. On top of that, he received hundreds of messages of support.
Yesterday, Franco also received an unexpected hospital visit from one of The International 5 contenders, team Cloud 9. Players Jacky “Eternal Envy” Mao, Adrian “FATA-“ Trinks, Armand “bOne7” Pitnner, Johan “BigDaddy” Sundstein, Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen, together with their manager, Conrad “QuantumPope” Janzen, and coach, Cristian “ppasarel” Bănăseanu, dropped by to say hi and wish Franco a quick recovery.
Click on one of the pictures to open the gallery.
It is hard not to speak in clichés about cancer, but it’s small gestures like these ones that help Franco through his difficult journey. Sadly, he’s not the only one out there dealing with cancer’s circus of horrors. However, his positive attitude could help others overcome their own struggles, and understand they are a lot more than just “cancer patients”.
Bringing myself through these difficult procedures – blood transfusions, chemo, meds – is the easy part. Physical pain is temporary; the thought that you are a fragile being that could drop into anemia, an ER room, or another helicopter ride leaves mental scars that are sometimes harder to deal with than physical ones. (…) I find solace in knowing that people are out there, people that care. Care about me getting better, care about my well being, or just care about the story I’m beginning to tell.