With stylish gradient sunglasses adorning her face, 31-year-old Gabriela Jágerská is back behind the wheel of her Volkswagon Polo, driving the lush, forested highways of central Slovakia to meet with health care professionals.
Gabriela figures she puts as much as 4,000 kilometers, or nearly 2,500 miles, a month on her company car traveling to about 200 sales calls from her home in Banska Bystrica, where she lives with her husband and their dogs.
Long hours on the road can be a drag for some people. Not Gabriela.
Driving from clinic to clinic is part of the job she loves as a medical representative for a skincare pharmaceuticals company. Gabriela’s customers include dermatologists, pediatricians, allergists and pharmacists.
Gabriela says she gets great satisfaction from helping medical professionals better treat skin conditions like acne, dermatitis, rosacea and psoriasis and help restore a person’s self-image and quality of life. And Gabriela’s career permits plenty of quality time with her family.
But in September 2013, not long after her wedding, Gabriela put her job — and her life — on hold.
The right side of Gabriela’s face had become swollen. And she experienced terrible tooth pain. But her teeth were not the problem.
Doctors in Bratislava identified an aggressive tumor growing in the sinus area of Gabriela’s face. It was 5.5 by 5.5 centimeters in size, slightly smaller than a tennis ball.
Surgery was considered. However, with the operation came a significant risk of blindness to her right eye. And doing nothing to fight the cancer would be worse.
“In that moment, I was not thinking about the job — if I can even go back to work — I was thinking of my life and what’s best for me,” Gabriela says.
Gabriela’s physicians decided surgery was not a good option for her. Instead, she received two courses of chemotherapy in Slovakia to put the tumor in check, at least for the short term.
“Here in Slovakia, this kind of cancer is very rare,” she says. “Thank God we have Google. We started to look for what is best for me.”
Gabriela and her husband learned of proton treatments being conducted at the Proton Therapy Center Czech in Prague.
“My doctors in Bratislava talked to the doctors in Prague,” she says. “In Prague, they knew about this cancer more. They had been successful treating patients with it.”
The second part of Gabriela’s story will be out soon, keep up !