Marlyse "Nanou" Dourdent

2000 - 2015

"Happiness comes from within and not from without, because it does not depend on what you have. It depends on what you are."

   Nanou. Facebook - 2014

Nanou's story

Marlyse, known as "Nanou", was born in Cameroon into a family of four children.
Very early she goes to school and likes to read and write a lot, the teachers find that she is very alert and rather curious for her age. She is a young girl who loves to laugh and have fun with children of her age; she exudes a joy of life.
Unfortunately, after a few months, Nanou complains of pain in her hands which begin to prevent her from writing and above all from going to school, because she has to spend a lot of her time in the hospital, without the doctors knowing what she is suffering from. They thus try several therapies which fail one after the other; the pain is not reduced.
At the age of 10, Nanou arrives in Europe where she is cared for in a university hospital in the South of France. After multiple examinations over several weeks, a diagnosis is finally made: Nanou suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and severe kidney failure - very rare pathologies in a child of this age - coming from an autoimmune disease.
From then on, it begins an obstacle course to be able to slow down the evolution of these pathologies, which can be very fast. Several therapies will be tested jointly by the rheumatology and nephrology team of the CHU Nord de Marseille and La Timone.
At the same time, Nanou continues her schooling in the hospital. This school that joins her in the service is a real breath of fresh air for her who only aspires to continue learning to become a doctor one day. Like all sufferers, Nanou continues to resist. She manages to get the diploma which is a source of great pride for her and her teachers.
Nanou has now become a teenager. But she begins to have difficulty moving because she has gained 30 kg in two years due to the new immunotherapy treatment she is undergoing. Despite everything, however, she does not complain, she says she is fine; but her pains are strong and now almost prevent her from moving. She finds it difficult to accept to let go of her cane to move only in a wheelchair. She says it with a little smile...
Nanou is allowed to come home one weekend, she wants to organize a pancake party with her friends; even if she can no longer move, despite everything, she continues to laugh, tells us anecdotes from the hospital, says she is the doctor's favorite! The laughter ensues.
The following weekend Nanou asks again to spend a few days with his family, permission is granted! It's been over two years since she was hospitalized, and now two weekends at home in a row! Hope is reborn and so does Nanou's dream.
She arrives without the morphine pump, has a serene face. She says she is lucky to be well taken care of at the hospital and above all to be able to continue her studies. She then tells us about her plan to return to Cameroon later in order to help sick children too, when she has achieved her goal of becoming a doctor!
The evening is beautiful, we have fun customizing her wheelchair, she says she feels very good and takes turns watching us, smiling! We are all happy that evening, the house is sunny with his presence and his bursts of laughter.

"The next day my little star is unwell and dies at the northern hospital in Marseille, where she was transferred to emergency.
When I think back to this weekend... it was just a goodbye that she had come to say to us in a state of pure bliss and joy.

Nanou our light this force of nature left us in March 2015.
I would just like us not to forget this brave and loving little girl who hung on to the end with a smile in the face of these pains.
She who, despite her young age, took life with great phylosophy.
This is why we wanted to set up this foundation, which bears his name, in order to continue his dream of caring for the sick and providing schooling for the children of his native country.
Nanou had dreams, all alone, in her hospital room. I wish that together we could dream too.
Because a dream, alone, is just a dream; a dream made together can become reality."

Danieline Dourdent

*) Nanou's family would like to thank the pediatric rheumatology team of Dr. Karine Retornaz, Hôpital Nord de Marseille.