Atlético Madrid midfielder’s comeback from brain cancer and mother’s paralysis
By John Chivers
22 May 2012
On November 2, 2012, in a private meeting rooms in the La Nueva York Hilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, then 33, and his wife, Irina, and her children, Josef, Lucía and Marta, spoke. In front of an audience of more than 500 journalists, friends and family in the UK for the launch of his new book, The First Season, they spoke frankly about the state of their lives and the progress they had made.
They were not alone. Their struggle with a rare but rarer condition, called primary progressive aphasia (PPA), was the subject of a documentary film, The Family of Ciri, produced by journalist and screenwriter Juan Carlos Monedero and directed by Fernando Silva. The film featured an interview with one of the world’s most recognisable celebrities with a condition that is now recognised as a rare and fatal brain disease. The film’s revelations of the misery Cristiano’s family have endured since his diagnosis and subsequent cancer-related treatment fuelled public anger. The documentary was made before, and in some quarters still, it was felt that Cristiano’s career might be at risk. A petition was launched to get the film banned in Spain.
No one had felt the impact of this condition, the devastating effects of which are becoming increasingly apparent with the emergence in 2010 of the disease in the US and Europe, including in France, which until now has had no recorded cases.
At the time of the movie’s release, there were only about 500 cases in the world, the majority of which were in the US, where Ciri was born. This is partly because of the prevalence of the condition there, which means that there are more people with a similar or identical condition who can be tested for, and are then found to be positive.
The other factor is the genetic makeup of