Inspiring Other TB Patients After a Remarkable Recovery

“You need to believe you will recover.”
── Dasha Lavrushiny, Grisha Lavrushiny

Dasha and Grisha Lavrushiny, a married couple from Russia in their 30s, have both won the fight against tuberculosis (TB).

When Dasha was 17, her mother died. They were close and the loss made Dasha physically weak and prone to depression. A few years later, when she was studying psychology and working simultaneously, she developed what she thought was just a cold. But after several months of coughing, she found out she had TB. She finished treatment and thought she had won the battle, but shortly after, the disease came back and she was sent to the hospital for yet another round of treatment. There, she met Grisha.

Both of Grisha’s parents are doctors. Grisha’s father became a TB doctor because his mother died from TB. Naturally, Grisha knew a lot about this disease. When he developed typical TB symptoms (night sweats, tiredness), he immediately knew the cause.

Unfortunately, he not only developed TB, but the most pernicious and difficult to treat form of it—extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), which is resistant to isoniazid and rifampin, the two TB drugs, plus a fluoroquinolone and an injectable second-line drug. Grisha’s treatment did not go well and when he met Dasha it seemed that his chances of survival were close to zero – cavities in both lungs, resistance to most of the available drugs.

Doctors had given him less than a year to live. Giving him one more chance, the doctors of the Research Institute of Tuberculosis admitted Grisha to the hospital, and through a careful selection of medication and surgery, Grisha recovered.

As he admits, he could not have done it without Dasha. Ever since they’ve met, they have spent each day together. Dasha, having recovered from TB in 2006, has supported Grisha in each step of his treatment.

Too weak for most activities, but with a lot of time, Grisha spent time in libraries and on the internet, expanding his knowledge about TB. He discovered how little people knew about the disease and how difficult it was to access reliable information about local treatment options. Grisha became active on forums, giving advice on where to get diagnosed, which test to take and where, how to find a good doctor, how to use online resources, and how to consult authorities if the treatment was not accessible in a small town.

The experience inspired him to make his own website for TB patients. His doctor, Oksana, helps him by providing medical content, while Grisha responds to user questions. The motto of his project is “Do not think that you are sick. Believe that you are recovering.” “If you cannot stop the feeling of being sick, treatment will not help you,” Dasha explains. The shift of focus from one’s own suffering to helping others gives this young couple strength as they face their own challenges.

Download "FIGHTBACK," a magazine featuring former patients who have been treated for tuberculosis (PDF, 7.91 MB)