A new year is always a sign of something new, a new beginning or maybe the right time to put an end to something. In my case, I definitely feel a strong need for a change. I am tired of being a cancer patient, however knowing that I will need to be in remission for a minimum of five years, to be considered cured from cancer, I will for sure have a few more years as a patient. Hopefully, I will see a change and an improvement in my health situation in 2020. Lately, my digestive problems have been a bit more under control and the optimistic Lena has decided that the low point now has been passed. I am not going to stick my head out and talk about a trend break, but it feels better and that is the main thing.
The work with my Foundation is progressing in very positive way and I am thankful to all the people who is supporting with donations, purchase of t-shirts or simply with their time. In 2020, I have decided to devote my energy to the Foundation and its development and marketing. Therefore, I will be taking a break from my blogging. I might start again, it will depend on what happens and how I want to continue sharing my experiences. This means if you want to continue getting regular updates, you can follow cancersurvivalwhatsnext on Instagram or Facebook, where I am posting short updates about small and big things, happening with me and my Foundation.
Thanks to my daughters, my Foundation´s website has a new, fresh look, check it out! www.lenawfoundation.com
I want to warmly thank you all for reading, commenting and supporting me through my roller-coaster cancer journey. My journey continues, hopefully at a more normal pace 😀. As a thank you for now, I can finally share the podcast recorded with me on World Ovarian Cancer Day, May 8th 2019. This podcast summarizes my cancer experience in a great way. Remember behind every patient is a person. A person with her own, fascinating story.
Link to podcast
With not that many days left of year 2019, I am thinking and reflecting over where I am today healthwise and what I have experienced this year. If I were to label my 2019, I would put:
Health: excellent yet challenging
Experiences: warm and enriching
Health in 2019
Knowing how difficult ovarian cancer can be to treat and how high the relapse risk is, for patients like me, I am of course extremely happy and grateful that I continue to be in remission. All the scans and checkups I have done regularly during the year have not shown any signs of reactivated cancer cells in my body. Nevertheless, 2019 has been challenging from a side-effect perspective, as I have suffered and still is suffering from severe digestive problems. Especially the last six months, have been paved with diets, trial of different stomach medications and a search for suitable well-being exercises. All I want for Christmas is a new stomach!
Experiences in 2019
2019 was a truly amazing and joyful year! The first thing that comes to my mind, is my Foundation, that was born out of my desire to contribute and help others. My, somewhat, bizarre cancer experience, followed by my quest to do good, caught media's attention and all of a sudden I became a spokes person for an area far too seldomly discussed: gynecology and female cancers. I have gladly taken this role and the feedback received has been overwhelmingly positive and warm.
Speaking of warmth, arranging and hosting the charity run: Lena's Lopp för Livet was a true pleasure and I smile whenever I think of that September evening. I wish everybody would get to experience the fabulous spirit of love, happiness, contributory and meaningfulness, that we got to experience that evening. A big thank you to all fantastic participants!
This year, I am thankful that my family and I could travel and explore the world, and we shared many fantastic and unforgettable nature-, food- and culture experiences. However, simply being in the presence and cherishing the daily conversations about each and everything, the family dinners and the long forest walks, have been invaluable.
I would like to warmly thank you for all your support to me and my Foundation in 2019. I wish you a relaxing and joyful Christmas with your family and friends!
I am happy to announce that my Foundation has started a webshop! Our first collection, the 2020 Design Edition, is designed by a young, talented design student. The collection consists of T-shirts, hoodies, mugs and tote bags, in different colors. This is an excellent way to buy Christmas Gifts for family and friends and at the same time support a great cause, as the profit goes to Lena Wäppling's Foundation. You contribute to ovarian cancer research and help saving women's lives.
Go to the webshop and take a look at all the nice products with a unique, cool design: Webshop
I hope you will find something for you and your loved ones. Thank you for your kind support❤️🎄
Over the last couple of weeks I have been invited to give speeches at different events. I have been happy and delighted to get the chance to talk about my Foundation and why I decided to wholeheartedly engage in raising awareness about ovarian cancer as well as securing more funding for its research. Making a presentation naturally requires preparations and it is essential to tailor the message, to fit the audience. However, it is also a tremendous learning experience for me, as it requires me to reflect on my own doing and the reasoning behind. Hopefully, it makes me a little wiser. Doubtless, I am thankful for every opportunity I get to share and interact, hopefully inspire some people!
Giving Tuesday: December 3, 2019
Giving Tuesday was created as a response to the commercialization and consumerism on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On Giving Tuesday people are encouraged to do good, and it is a day when everyone, everywhere can do something. It could be helping a friend in need or supporting a charity with a donation. If you feel that you want to contribute, I can recommend my Foundation😀, where every single donated Euro, Krona or Swiss Franc goes to ovarian cancer research.
Sweden: Swish 123 360 7058
Switzerland: Twint 078 882 02 81
Other countries: see link
Within shortly my Foundation will launch a webshop where you can buy Christmas gifts and at the same time support a great cause. Stay tuned!
The Christmas countdown has started, this weekend I will bake Swedish sweet rolls (lussekatter): a must have during the Christmas season. Enjoy the First Advent Sunday with your family!
A few weeks ago, I had an appointment with my doctor to thoroughly discuss and review all the different actions I have taken to reduce my digestive problems. Conclusion was to completely skip the tiresome and for me ineffectual diets, and instead try a change of medications and focus on general well-being. According to my doctor, my digestive system will hopefully get out of the cancer-fighting, survival mode, and gradually realize that I am okay.
Well-being is normally one of my best traits, but I must admit that I for a while have felt off-color. Luckily, the trip to Abruzzo gave me a much needed well-being boost. Every since, I have tried to keep the “Italian flow”. For me that includes plenty of daily physical activity and yoga, as well as coming back to doing things that bring me happiness and joy.
Speaking of happiness and joy, last weekend I attended a lovely party in Baden to celebrate my 25th work anniversary with ABB. Altogether, more than 150 people with 15th, 25th, 40th or even 50th work anniversary were celebrated. Even though I have not been able to work that much lately, I look back at my 25 years with much pride and joy. I have enjoyed the continuous learning, being challenged, empowered and trusted, but most of all I am extremely grateful for all the talented, inspirational and amazing people I have been fortunate to work together with. Thanks to all of you, I am who I am today!
Now I am back in the everyday routine, and I try genuinely hard to keep the "Italian flow" and excel in the art of well-being. That is what is most important to me!
What do you want to be remembered for? This is certainly an interesting and thought-provoking question. It could be understod as a way to somehow "live on" also after you are dead. The more apparent answers would be via your children, and if you are an artist via your art, or via your music if you are a composer. Another view, is to answer with a list of adjectives, you would want people to use when speaking about and remembering you at your funeral. By applying that on today, you could see it as a way to get direction and purpose in your life, if you were to live and act accordingly.
Before I was diagnosed with cancer, some of the top adjectives on my "To be remembered for list", would be: caring, positive, open-minded, supportive, joyous, generous, committed, self-reliant and ambitious.
My unexpected cancer diagnosis, painfully forced me to deal with thoughts and feelings I did not expect having to handle until much later in life, if ever. My priorities have changed as a consequence of the uncertainty of what the future holds, and I am much more focused on being in the presence, enjoying and appreciating what I have. I have come to realize that my "To be remembered for list" has somewhat changed and some more altruistic and unselfish adjectives, have advanced from further down on the list and have made their way into the top, these are: humanitarian, compassionate and grateful.
Humanitarian and compassionate: Expresses my desire to contribute to the greater good, and not only use my strengths and competencies for the benefit of my family, my employer and myself. Grateful: I do not take things like health for granted any longer. I am fortunate to be alive and grateful for every day! An excellent quote by Ashley Fern:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Unquestionably, these are positive changes and I am happy to have seen them happen. Now it is up to me to continue living and acting accordingly.
So what do YOU want to be remembered for? And more importantly, are YOU living by your answer?
Last week I got a painful reminder how cruel and deadly ovarian cancer is. Three women, whom I have gotten to know in the patient organization that I am part of, died. Every death, is one too many, and three in one week is hearth breaking and devastating. The only way to prevent deaths in ovarian cancer and to save women's lives, is via advances in cancer research. Many researchers around the globe are focused on finding a way to early detect and possibly even screen for ovarian cancer, as this would be the most effective way to save lives. Today far too many women are diagnosed when cancer has already started to spread, thus making it more difficult to treat.
I have, together with my Foundation's board members, visited Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, to learn more about current ovarian cancer research. Karolinska Institutet is Sweden’s largest centre for medical academic research and its Nobel Assembly selects the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine. We met with Professor Kristina Gemzell Danielsson and Senior Lecturer Angelique Flöter Rådestad. We visited the research lab and got an excellent presentation of ongoing research projects within screening- and diagnosis methods, treatments and patient care.
My fellow board members and I, now have a much better understanding of ongoing ovarian cancer research, which will be useful when deciding on projects to fund. Lena Wäppling's Foundation has just opened up for research funding applications, and I hope we will receive many applications, before the deadline on December 31st.
Link to Application
My Foundation is one of few focused on funding gynecological research and, to my knowledge, the only Swedish private foundation focused on ovarian cancer research. The interest and support from the academic world has been fabulous. I am extremely happy that we have secured an unbiased review by highly qualified medical expertise. The Scientific Committee of the Swedish Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (SFOG) will review all applications received and submit a recommendation to the Board of my Foundation for a decision on projects to fund.
Hopefully, we can somehow contribute to the very much needed advances in ovarian cancer research. If you want to help us help, donate today! Thank you.
An early autumn trip to Abruzzo in Italy has been booked for a long time. Both my husband and I have really looked forward to it, but with my never-ending stomach problems it has been highly uncertain, whether we would be able to go or not. A few days prior to the departure, I got a go-ahead from my doctor, and she felt I could benefit from a break from the everyday routine and that the Italian cuisine might do me good. She was absolutely right!
Yoga and fitness trip
My husband and I had booked a yoga and fitness trip to Villalfonsina in Abruzzo, on the Italian east coast. We felt that the the combination of yoga sessions, fitness classes and mountain hikes in a (for us) new part of Italy was appealing. It turned out to be a very pleasant and enjoyable experience, and we could relax, unwind and recharge. The location was magnificent, right in the middle of large vineyards and old olive groves, with mountain as well as Adriatic Sea view. We would love to return to explore Abruzzo even more!
I was practicing yoga regularly at the end of last year, but for some reason I put it on the back burner, when I started working. The trip gave me a yoga boost and I realized how much I benefit from it and that I should definitely get a simple yoga session into my daily routine again.
I am not sure if it was the Italian cuisine, the daily glass of red wine or the abundant physical and mental exercise, or maybe a combination of the three, but I do feel much better and have less stomach problems. I sincerely hope that this trip was a turning point, and that I now will be able to continue my recovery.
I have a bad habit of wanting too much and constantly overestimating my physical capacity. At present, my stomach cramps and digestive problems definitely do impact and limit my everyday life, which I hate to admit. With the gruesome time of cancer behind me, I just want to recover physically and be like any woman in her fifties. I know it is wishful thinking to assume that my year of tough surgeries and demanding treatments, would not have left any traces in my body, but I am not always rational. It is frustrating not knowing how long my physical recovery will take. However, I keep reminding myself to accept and just be in the presence and appreciate what I do have.
1 ½ time around the globe
One thing my doctor has recommended me, in order to reduce my symptoms, is walking. As I am sure you know, I am a nature freak and I clearly feel that being outdoor increases both my physical and mental well-being. I try to take a longer walk every day and I explore the hiking trails in our neighbourhood. I like to try different trails, and I have plenty to choose from as there in total are 66,200 kilometers of marked hiking trails in Switzerland. That distance equals to 1 ½ time around the globe, along the equator. So I keep on walking!
Status: escalating digestive problems and sleeping disorder, despite four months of strict Fodmap diet. I was not surprised that my nutritionist concluded that the Fodmap diet is not working for me and something else is needed. In an earlier meeting she had said that a rice cleanser, ie. three days of eating white rice only, would be my next step. Honestly speaking, I like rice but only eating it for three days, does not sound too appealing to me. Needless if that would be the solution, I would of course do it.
I was utterly surprised when my nutritionist said that, after consulting other experts, the next step for me would be a wholegrain and high fibre based diet, which is a complete opposite of Fodmap. I have not eaten any wholegrain products at all for a few months and now that is what I should focus on. Well, I clearly do not mind, and I welcome the shift of my breakfast from yoghurt with cornflakes to yoghurt with berries, dried figs, flax seeds, sunflower kernels, crushed rye and wholegrain müsli. In addition, I should start every day with a glass of warm water. According to my nutritionist, drinking warm water has a positive impact on the body, as it helps breaking down the food in the stomach faster and keeps the digestive system on track. There is also a more pseudoscientific, vain and wishful thinking benefit: halting premature aging. If I look like thirty next time you meet me, you know why!
As the medical side has been thoroughly checked, dietary trial and error is the only way to reduce digestive problems like mine. Now I wholeheartedly hope that my wholegrain diet and the warm water will improve my health situation and quality of life!
Support cancer research via Lena Wäppling's Foundation:
2020 Design Edition
Purchase T-shirts, hoodies, mugs and tote bags and fund ovarian cancer research.
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.