Carmen Sánchez Chicharro
Age 86 • Spain
My name is Carmen Sánchez Chicharro. I am 86 years old, mother of four daughters and grandmother of four grandchildren. I was born in Madrid in 1935 and this is where I have lived all my life. Although I studied Early Childhood Education, I ended up working in the international section of the National Telephone Company of Spain. I had to quit my job when I had my first daughter.
I would like to share with you my experience as an osteoporosis patient.
My osteoporosis was caused by early menopause, resulting from having had a total hysterectomy after having my fourth daughter, at the age of 35. At that time nobody knew what osteoporosis was and the consequences of this early menopause. After a few years, I began to suffer severe back pain and started a pilgrimage from one doctor to another who did not know how to treat me because they did not know about the disease.
By chance, I got in touch with the Hispanic Osteoporosis Foundation (FHOEMO) and I began to learn about this disease. I then went to a specialist who prescribed a densitometry scan that showed a significant loss of bone mass.
Since this time I have suffered several fractures: the first was a wrist fracture due to a slip in the street on a rainy day. This first fracture was followed by vertebral thoracic and lumbar fractures. The last one (fracture of the 8th thoracic vertebra) was in 2018. I can testify from my own experience just how painful and disabling these types of fractures are.
The first vertebral fracture (2003) went unnoticed and caused me to suffer great pain. Fortunately, the next two fractures were diagnosed in time and I had a vertebroplasty procedure to reconstruct the damaged vertebrae - I noticed the improvement immediately. In all the other vertebral fractures, both in the thoracic and lumbar regions, I had the same technique.
I can say that I have taken almost every medication that has come out during the last 20 years, from the famous inhaled calcitonin, through bisphosphonates, strontium ranelate to the current Prolia (denosumab). I am aware that osteoporosis is a chronic disease and that I will need treatment for the rest of my life.
One of the things I have taken on board is that I have to be very careful with my diet, so I choose foods rich in calcium and vitamin D and I try to do exercise, which I have varied as I have suffered from vertebral crushing.
I early on became involved in osteoporosis advocacy, ever since I was at the EU Parliament in an extraordinary session chaired by Mrs. Mel Read MEP 20 years ago, in my capacity as president of the Asociacion Espanola Contra La Osteoporosis (AECOS) for which I still collaborate as Treasurer.
In all these years, the knowledge of osteoporosis has improved both on the part of doctors and patients. In Spain, our Association has carried out campaigns to inform the population. We offer information via telephone, as well as by other means, such as the web and RRSS. Above all, we hope to ensure that, once they are diagnosed, patients do not abandon their treatment. We know that it is a very important problem because people with osteoporosis are often not aware of the repercussions if treatment is abandoned.