I have been coughing badly for a couple of weeks, without having had a cold or a fever. As you know, my whole cancer shabang started with coughing, so naturally my whole family gets slightly nervous when I cough without an obvious reason. After having seen my family doctor twice over the last weeks, without her being able to determine the cause for the hideous coughing, she contacted my oncologist. It was quickly decided that I needed to do an extra CT-scan to check for metastasized cancer in the thorax area. Just hearing the words metastasized cancer is frightening and it gives me the chills.
Naturally, both my doctors and I wanted to know if something is seriously wrong, before I would leave for my summer vacation to Sweden. However, with only three days left before my flight, I thought that would be impossible. I am glad I was proven wrong, thanks to the excellent Swiss health care system and my oncologist's personal support. I did the CT-scan the following day and my oncologist saw me, the day after the scan, during his lunch break, to make sure I got the results in person before my vacation. Thank you Swiss health care! I am delighted and relieved that the results were good, with no signs of any new tumors.
Now, I am looking forward to a couple of weeks vacation together with my family. We have no specific plans, other than spending time together, relaxing and meeting family and friends. Hopefully, the weather will be nice, so we can enjoy the lake by our summer house. I hope to completely switch off all work related tasks, and will only do some minor volunteer tasks for my Foundation's big event on September 5th: Lenas Lopp för Livet (Lena's Run for Life). The charity run in Västerås, where every krona goes to ovarian cancer research. If you have not signed up yet, click this link.
With yesterday's positive scan results in mind, I will for sure enjoy my break even more! I wish you a great summer, full of joy, happiness and sunshine!😎 ☀️
Today is my one year Cancerversary! You may not be familiar with the word Cancerversary. It is the anniversary of a specific time, date or event in the life of a person touched by cancer. Since each cancer journey is unique and different, individuals may choose different milestones to celebrate. Some people choose to celebrate the day they were diagnosed, or the day they finished chemotherapy but I have chosen to celebrate the day I had my first clear scan. On July 4th 2018, I officially went into remission, as my scan showed that all visible signs of cancer was gone and no more treatment was needed. So today, one year later I celebrate big time. The reason is two-folded, first to reflect on where I am today versus one year ago and secondly I celebrate the fact that I am alive!
This last year has definitely not been a walk in the park, I have been struggling with all the aftermaths of chemotherapy, an urgent bowel obstruction surgery, digestive problems and much more. Nevertheless it has also been a joyful year with lots of love, laughter and fun! I am happy and thankful for all the amazing people I have met, interesting places I have visited, small and big things I have learned and experienced. My family aside, I am most proud of the Foundation I have founded and extremely grateful for the fantastic start it has had. Thank you for your support!
I made it 1 year! I almost do not dare to say it loud in order not to jinx myself and awaken sleeping cancer cells. This hybrid of joy and nervousness, or gratitude and anxiety, I guess I will have to live with for years to come. Still, I will have an extra glass of champagne today, enjoy and celebrate. Life is good!
What does Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thomas Mann, Victor Hugo and I have in common? Honestly speaking not much, they are well-known people and are all dead since long. However, we have all four enjoyed the healing thermal water in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland.
The thermal bath in Bad Ragaz has a history dating back to 1242, when hunters discovered a warm spring in the Tamina gorge. According to tradition, the monks of a nearby Benedictine monastery soon recognized the healing effects of the water, which has a low mineral content and a temperature of 36.5°C. The first spa guests were lowered into the gorge on ropes, to enjoy the warm water. Already in 1840, some clever, business-minded persons built a four kilometer long pipeline to bring the water to Bad Ragaz, to make it more accessible. This was the starting point of Bad Ragaz gaining a worldwide reputation as a bathing and spa resort, thus attracting Europe's celebrities. They all wanted to benefit from the thermal water, which is said to have a range of positive effects on the human body, such as boosting the metabolism, circulation and improving cardiac function.
Thermal bath year 2019
Today, there are several pools with different temperatures, jacuzzi, massage jets and an outdoor section: all to maximize the well-being. The bathing is done in a Swiss orderly fashion with discrete, flashing arrows making sure you do not stay too long by one of the massage jets, but move on to the next one. The whole place has a calming, soothing ambience and people only speak in low voices.
I left feeling relaxed and recharged. The medical effects for me are yet to be seen, but I do hope the thermal water gave me a much-needed health boost. Nevertheless, it was a very pleasant and relaxing experience, and I got to spend it with a dear friend of mine. Thank you Katharina!
If you look at lists of what people are most afraid of, public speaking is almost always among top 5. It is common to feel uncomfortable and getting very nervous when all lights are on you and you are at the center of attention. The good thing is, facing this fear and doing it anyway, together with learning some basics of how to speak in public, are often enough to overcome at least some of the public speaking fear. And of course, the more speeches and presentations you hold, the more confident you get.
Over the cause of my working career I have held hundreds of presentations and speeches. Some good, a few brilliant and definitely some boring and bad. However, I enjoy public speaking and find it most of the time rewarding and fun. For me it all starts with: who is the audience? Based on the audience I try to tailor a message to get the desired outcome. It is two completely different things to speak about robotics in front of a high school class or delivering a robotics sales pitch in a customer meeting. It is also important to take every presentation seriously, be well prepared and to have rehearsed several times. I am almost always a bit nervous, and it is not only negative as I feel it makes me more focused.
Last week, I was invited as inspirational speaker at an event in Sweden. I felt honored and privileged to get the chance to talk about the importance of "here and now", joy and appreciation of life! It was also a good opportunity to increase awareness about ovarian cancer and of course to promote my foundation.
I hope to get more such chances and who knows maybe this is my next career!?
On June 2nd 2018, I wrote my first ever blogpost. When I look back and compare it with what I have written lately, I can see that my writing certainly has evolved. The texts are longer, more colorful and I hope more interesting to read. They have also definitely become much more personal, as I share my thoughts, feelings and what I am experiencing more openly.
My Good Life Formula
Today's blogpost is my 52nd and so far my posts have been a mix of personal reflections and stories about completing actions on My Survival List. As I have written earlier, it is definitely not a competition and ticking off actions is not the main point. More importantly, the list gives me a direction and a future orientation. In my situation a future outlook is essential, as it demonstrates hope and a belief in a tomorrow. However, tomorrow is tomorrow, what we have and are certain of is now. Hence, full focus on the presence, here and now, enjoying and cherishing the moment. I am alive, life is great, let's enjoy!
Last but not least, healthy egoism, which starts with self-awareness and with a recognition of one’s needs and values. Healthy egoism is not the self-centric, boasting egoism, but a self-reflecting version, where I listen to me, my wishes and desires. I decide where I want to spend my time and with whom, because that makes me happy, and gives my life meaning and purpose.
Future outlook + "here and now" + healthy egoism = Good life
It works for me, does it work for you?
My husband and I are getting ready for PandaGoSport tomorrow. It is a non-competitive family race in Zumikon. The aim is to bring people together for a sporting activity and to support charity. Check out the Webpage for more information. We just got the T-Shirts for My Foundation delivered, so Lars and I will wear them to create awareness about ovarian cancer, and to promote My Foundation. Main aim is of course to generate more donations, thus contributing to cancer research and saving women's lives.
Getting a cancer diagnosis, and going through all the necessary treatments are exceptionally tough. I am convinced that in order to handle that people need hope. Hope is what keeps us going even when life is miserable and it seems like there is no tomorrow. It is said "Hope is the last to die" and I fully believe in that! However, seeing that there is hope even in the darkest and most frightening moments, is not always self evident. Several psychologists underline the importance of creating and seeing a path forward, as well as looking for inspiration and role models. The realization that others have managed can be extremely powerful.
I try to bring hope via my small, personal actions and of course through My Foundation, by generating more money to cancer research. Tomorrow I will run for hope and to save women's lives!
I am moved and extremely grateful for the avalanche of love, hurray cries, kind notes of support and encouragement, that I have received ever since announcing the start of my Foundation. I want to say a warm "Thank you!" to all of you who have given donations! Every Krona, Dollar and Euro you have donated, will help us supporting ovarian cancer research projects, thus taking us one important step towards our goal to improve women's health.
During the last week, I also had my every three month follow-up meeting with my oncologist, to review and discuss the latest CT-scan results. As I have written in earlier blogposts, the days leading up to these appointments are nerve wrecking, as scanxiety kicks in. This time I had even more butterflies in my stomach, as I had experienced increasing digestive problems. Therefore, I had done a colonoscopy, which revealed nothing but an intestinal system in complete imbalance after my surgeries and treatments. This was of course a relief, and it can hopefully be better managed with a fiber-reduced diet. However, the doctors wanted to await the CT-scan to confirm that my cancer had not metastasized. Scan results turned out to be great, with no signs of any relapse. I continue to be cancer free! I celebrated with a cappuccino and a croissant, before taking the train to Zug for the live podcast, on World Ovarian Cancer Day. And do not worry, I did have a glass of champagne later that evening.... 😉
Ever since I got my totally unexpected ovarian cancer diagnosis, I have felt I wanted to change the course of my life and somehow contribute to the greater good. I guess this is a consequence of seeing how fragile life can be and how quickly things can change. Several ideas have been running through my head: volunteer work, supporting cancer research, fund raising and many other.
Today, I am proud to announce the start of Lena Wäppling’s Foundation! My foundation wants to make a difference in an under-financed area, where the need is huge: gynecology and mainly ovarian cancer. Every year about 65.000 European women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 43.000 die every year. In Sweden the statistics are even worse, 700 women are diagnosed every year and 550 die. New treatments and screening methods are urgently needed to reduce these numbers. My Foundation will use its yearly return on investments, as well as donations to support research within the field of gynecology, mainly ovarian cancer research.
The Foundation is based in Västerås, Sweden and I am chairing the board. I am joined by Karin Swärd Lindberg, Jonas Eriksson Bergdahl and Leif Wäppling. We do this on a volunteer basis. We are passionate and determined to develop the Foundation, where every donated Krona, Euro or Dollar goes directly to research.
If you want to help us help, donate via:
Sweden: Swish: 123 360 7058 or Bankgiro: 341-7284
Via PayPal: see link on our webpage
or bank transfer: IBAN: SE11 6000 0000 0003 1976 7051 BIC: HANDSESS
Name of account: Lena Wäpplings Stiftelse. Bank address: Handelsbanken, Box 363, SE- 72107 Västerås, Sweden.
Thank you! If you want to know more about my Foundation, go to the webpage: www.lenawfoundation.com
I believe I have found my new way forward, and I am excited to contribute to ovarian cancer research. Hopefully, new treatments and screening methods will be developed, making ovarian cancer easier to detect and treat, hence improving the survival rates.
Today it is World Ovarian cancer day. A lot of events take place around the world to raise awareness about ovarian cancer, and to make sure women with cancer, as well as their families and friends get the very much needed focus and attention. Ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of all female cancers. No screening methods exist today and the symptoms can be vague and are often confused with less severe illnesses. Therefore most women are diagnosed once the cancer has already spread, making it more difficult to treat.
I try to contribute as much as I possibly can. For me it is important to give ovarian cancer a face, show that cancer can hit at any point in life and make sure we talk about gynecological cancers. I am on my way to an event at Astra Zeneca's Swiss head quarter, where I will be participating in a Podcast. The Podcast will be presented live on stage and will be live-streamed to several Astra Zeneca offices around the globe. I am looking forward to a great event and will for sure link to the Podcast, as soon as it it available online!
I am also participating in the Swedish Ovarian Cancer Patient Organization's campaign movie 700550. See link. The number comes from the terrifying Swedish statistics: 700 women are diagnosed every year and 550 die. Knowledge and early detection are key: every woman should see a doctor if having symtoms like bloating, eating complications, abdominal pain or urinary problems.
Do you want to make a difference? Contribute to cancer research!
Four years ago I started a nice tradition by taking my older daughter on a longer "Mother and Daughter trip", as she finished grade 9. I wanted to show her one of the big cities that I normally would go to for business. The two of us went to Shanghai and Beijing and had a wonderful time sightseeing, shopping and enjoying the excellent Chinese cuisine.
The plan was of course to do something similar with my younger daughter when she finished grade 9 last year. As she is not at all interested in big cities, but loves animals and wildlife photographing, a big, bustling city was out of the question. Therefore we had planned and booked a safari trip to South Africa. Everything had been arranged and we were set to go in April 2018. You all know, 2018 was really bad for me healthwise, so there was no chance in the world that we could go. In a spur of optimism, I decided not to cancel the trip, but to postpone it one year. By doing so I maintained not only a strong hope for a better 2019, but I had something enjoyable to look forward to and really strive for doing when my health improved.
Last week my younger daughter and I could finally go on our trip! We stayed in safari lodges in two different private game reserves, connected to the vast Kruger National Park. I had never been on a safari and did not really know what to expect, but it turned out to be a fascinating and thrilling wildlife experience. We were pleased to see that all the game viewing was done with great respect to the animals.
It was of course exciting to see the Big five: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo, but overall I found it even more interesting to just enjoy the lush, beautiful sceneries, the sounds and all the thriving wildlife: insects, birds and mammals. It was also fascinating to do bush walks led by an armed ranger, and learn more about the wide variety of insects and plants, and get really close to nature. On one of the walks we got a bit too close, as we almost walked into two mating leopards. Then even the cool ranger got a bit nervous...
I feel privileged and truly blessed to getting the chance to spend one-on-one time traveling and experiencing other cultures with my fantastic daughters. Thank you for hanging out with your mom! Love you ❤️
Support cancer research via Lena Wäppling's Foundation:
Hi, my name is Lena and I am a cancer survivor. I hope you enjoy reading my blog posts. If you want to subscribe, click on Contact.