The first day.

Thank you very much!

When I learned from my doctor (at that point he was a doctor) that I had a malignant carcinoma in both breasts, and that my right axillary lymphatic node was also affected, I was overpowered by fear. For a minute.

But then the doctor said something that turned him into MY doctor. He said that he would take steps against the cancer and that he would begin that same week. He then named the steps:

1.     He would perform surgery that week,

2.     a medical port would be implanted the week after,

3.     chemotherapy would be administered via the port over a period of 12 weeks,

4.     I would have radiation therapy after a short break after the end of chemotherapy,

5.     I would begin hormone therapy for 5 years soon.

Immediately, I began to feel grateful. Because my doctor had just shown me a road back to life. And I mean this in a completely non-esoteric way. I simply would not have survived without these steps. Ever since then I have been unable to feel grumpy, or to doubt the necessity of the treatment on my road to my second life. Questions like “Do I want chemo? Won’t I lose all of my hair?”, or “Is surgery really necessary?”, or “Isn’t radiation therapy painful?”, or “Won’t I put on weight from the hormones?” never came to my mind. Not once. Not for a single moment. At all.

I never talked to friends about “what they thought of chemo, surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, and so on, blah-blah”. I am firmly convinced that different people are good at different things. I am pretty damn sure that the lady at the supermarket checkout is better at checking out customers than I am. I am willing to believe in the qualifications of the pilots on any of my holiday trips, I trust in the knowledge of my kids’ teachers, I am quite sure that our carpenter is far better trained in building than I am, I don’t doubt our bank clerk’s advice in questions of money, I turn to my friends for support and good conversation. So why should I question my doctor ‘s expertise if it comes to healing me?

I didn’t waste time. I didn´t hesitate. When my doctor named the steps, I seized that opportunity fully and whole-heartedly. Never in the past two years (I was diagnosed on the 22nd of November in 2011) have I regretted any of the measures my doctor suggested.

Back to the role my friends played then. I talked to them about my life and about their lives and about school and about work and about EVERYTHING. And about how grateful I was for the simple fact that I was looked after so well. And about food and about the weather and about EVERYTHING. And about the luck that I was born in Europe, in a part of the world where you simply get treatment. Full stop! I talked to them about how much their friendship and support meant to me. And of course we just talked. About EVERYTHING.

Throughout the whole treatment I laughed more than in the 40 years before. Can you understand that for dejectedness and depression there is simply no space in my life? Bloody hell, why should I waste a single second on anything as useless as them? Every morning I wake up, feeling happy that I am alive. I love seeing my husband and our boys first thing in the morning. I relish the moment. It is the best thing in the world. How can I not be happy?!

Now, two years after diagnosis, I have lost two of my closest friends. Because they couldn’t accept that I didn’t turn to them in questions of cancer treatment. But yes. I am content with my life. Because I know that by now I would most certainly be dead without treatment. And I hope I have at least another forty years to be angry about these two lost friends. And yes. I say thank you to all the people who have participated in the process of saving my life. Thank you very much. Thank YOU, my doctor.

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