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 ❤️
With Easter approaching, I am reflecting and thinking back, to where I was one year ago. Last Easter I was neither in shape nor in the mood for any Easter egg hunt, as I had just completed my second chemotherapy. A week earlier my younger daughter had shaved my head, as I could not stand seeing my hair falling off in clumps. As a result, I did not recognize myself any longer when looking in the mirror, seeing a totally bald person.
In hindsight, losing all my hair was hard and it gave me the "cancer look", making it obvious to everyone that I was seriously ill. Nevertheless, I could adjust and I gradually got used to the new me. Going through six cycles of chemo was of course tough and I suffered from some side effects. However, with the help of half a Pharmacy, most of them could be managed.
One effect of the chemo drugs that I never got used was the post-chemo "run over by a truck" feeling. The hours just after having got the infusion were the worse, with a strange, horrible sensation of not only being totally exhausted, but mentally and physically severely bruised and battered. After a week or two, this feeling slowly wore off. I sincerely hope that the chemotherapies I have undergone, have killed all cancer cells, as I definitely do not want to be run over by a truck again.
This year I feel a lot better and I look forward to the Easter break. In between painting Easter eggs and enjoying some sunshine, I will watch the amazing Netflix series Our Planet. If you have not seen it yet, do so! It contains some extraordinary wildlife scenes that will impact how you view our planet and what needs to be done to protect it. Happy Easter! 🐣
Why do we talk about cancer in military terms? "He is a warrior and is fighting his cancer. She is heroic and is winning the war." I am fed up with the language of war. If you die from cancer you do not give in and “lose”. That suggests you lacked courage, did not try hard enough and were beaten. Cancer is a decease not an invading army, and I believe we should use the same language with cancer patients, as with anyone else who is ill.
The battle language also suggests that having cancer is a one-time event that you as a patient controls. I know that almost every patient is prepared to do what it takes in order to survive, and believe me treatments are extremely tough. However, survival is not something you as a patient alone can control, it depends on so many other correlating factors: cancer type, cancer stage, spread, patient's age, genetic predisposition, surgery outcome, treatment response etc.
Language matters, but why is the language of war used when talking about cancer? My theory is that we in a way are stuck in the past, when most cancer types were a lot more deadly than they are today. Surgery and treatments have developed immensely over the last 10 to 15 years, and today three out of four persons diagnosed with cancer will survive. I guess before all cancer types can be treated and cancer is seen as a fully curable decease, the image of cancer, as an invading army, an immortal alien no human body can resist, will prevail.
"We still lose too many people to cancer. If things work out and people do well, are they any more a hero than somebody who did everything they needed to do, but unfortunately the disease was stronger than they were?"
Len Lichtenfeld, Chief Medical Officer for the American Cancer Society
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.