Hello, I am Catalina Menéndez, I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I am 32 years old.
First of all, I want to thank HAEi for giving me the opportunity to share my HAE patient journey and for the wonderful work they have done to improve the quality of life for all of us living with Hereditary Angioedema.
I began my relationship with Angioedema at a very young age, I was “lucky” enough that my mother, though not without difficulty, had already been diagnosed with HAE and had solved the mystery that had been haunting our family for 3 generations. Consequently, my two sisters and I were tested when we were very little, and both my younger sister and I were diagnosed with Hereditary Angioedema. This led my mother to start advocating for HAE in my country, and soon, a group of HAE patients in Argentina was organized, which since then has been fighting vigorously to improve the quality of life of our patients .
I must say that during the first years of my life and until my mid-20s, my approach to HAE was more like my sister’s caregiver, who, from a very early age, began to have HAE attacks, which increased enormously during her teenage years.
Years later, I also began to have some episodes and I must confess they came as a bit of a shock for me. I think at one point, I thought that if I hadn’t had any episodes by now, then maybe HAE had decided to skip me.
Fortunately, by that time, I was already very familiar with my condition. I had been very active in our patient organization and I was aware of the treatments available. This made the journey much easier for me. I had participated in several workshops to learn how to self-administer medication and had helped my sister during many of her attacks, even when I was symptom-free.
So despite the initial shock, I was very aware and confident about how to act in this new normal. Having medication available from day one and being able to treat my attacks at home in a familiar environment gave me peace of mind. I was able to be calm when experiencing attacks, treat them, and have the confidence to passionately continue pursuing my goals and living every opportunity to the fullest.
Throughout my life, I have really enjoyed doing many activities, such as running, training, skiing, yoga, mountain trekking, and traveling the world. I am a music fan and also really enjoy attending music concerts and cultural events. After finishing high school, I studied LAW, and after graduating, I began working in the financial market as a lawyer. A few years later, I decided to move to Barcelona to pursue a master’s degree in Finance and complement my studies. At no time did I hesitate to do it because of Hereditary Angioedema.
Living abroad for two (2) years was an incredibly enriching experience; I was able to meet people from all over the world, and even if that meant getting out of my comfort zone, I kept on doing all the activities I like in a different part of the world. Traveling, exploring, and expanding knowledge are opportunities that must be taken, and when one has treatment available and knows how to treat oneself, there is no obstacle to doing so.
Nowadays, I still have somewhat frequent episodes of HAE, but that does not define me or limit me at all. I live with HAE, it is part of my life, a healthy life where I can manage my attacks thanks to having access to modern medications. I am grateful for the many friends and family who support me in achieving my goals and having the necessary and sufficient knowledge about HAE to cope with any situation. Everything I set out to do so far, I was able to do calmly.
If there is one message I would like you to take from my story, this is it. Learning to overcome HAE has made me more empathetic and, above all, more resilient. Maintaining a positive attitude has encouraged me and shown me that HAE patients are very strong.
We have finally left behind the fear of the past to live a peaceful, joyful, and productive life.
Thank you for reading!