Yep that’s me too! Despite the number of projects I am involved in, every one takes a massive effort, not only physically but emotionally too! I often say I have the best job in the world. Meeting and helping incredible people whilst having fun can’t be beaten, but for me it is a major task to just get out of bed, as my treatment side effects and the ageing process take their toll. But being able to improve the lives of people affected by cancer has become my oxygen. Recently I was contacted by the incredible Jelle Damhuis from Holland. He is a man who has experienced cancer more than once in his young life and like many of us wanted to use his personal experience to help others. He came across the UNTIRE APP and is working with the professionals who created it to ensure those people that need it can find it. I think it is a fabulous idea so please have a read of Jelle’s story and check out the app!
“In the summer of 2012, I boarded the plane with my girlfriend to travel through Vietnam. My rising back pain was not allowed to spoil the fun. After all, a holiday is a moment for rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, . After three weeks we were forced to return to the Netherlands early because of my severe back pain. Both the doctor and I immediately thought of a herniated disc. A weak back was in the family. During the prescribed bed rest, however, the symptoms only became worse. A visit to the hospital revealed a shocking diagnosis, a tumor on my spinal cord.
How was this possible?
At that moment a lot of thoughts and emotions flooded my mind. How did this happen to me? Soon an operation followed and it turned out that the tumor was malignant. CANCER. Where would this end? Was this just the beginning? Post-operation, I had 30 rounds of radiation over the course of two months. I was lucky to have the support of family and friends to get through it. I was tired, very tired. Activities that required little effort in the past, now seemed like impossible tasks. Fortunately, three months later I had a scan with positive results, no more cancer in my body. I found a new zest for life.
Ready for the future
After five years of follow-up scans with no sign of recurrence, I had a renewed confidence in my body. I had come out of the treatment relatively well. I completed my studies, travelled around the world, founded my own company, I was ready for the future! But just when I thought I was sailing through calm water, there was another storm coming. In January 2018, after dealing with a nagging cough and ongoing pain, a hospital visit revealed another cancer diagnosis. I had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Here I am at 26 years old with two types of cancer, how was this possible?
Despite the news, I was determined to overcome cancer again. After six months of chemotherapy, I wanted to know ‘Would the cancer be defeated?’ Fortunately, my doctor had good news: The cancer was gone! What an incredible relief. Time to celebrate with champagne! After celebrating, it was time to get back to normal life. This turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. Because of the treatment, I now faced extreme fatigue. It would strike without any warning and felt like I had hit a wall. It hampered my ability to do even the smallest tasks like walk to the store.
Although I had excellent help in the hospital, there was little they could do about the fatigue. I searched for help to find some way to deal with this ongoing tiredness. I was very happy and relieved to discover the app Untire. It gave me the ability to do something about my fatigue at my own pace. Untire is a free app that helps you understand cancer fatigue. It provides exercises to reduce stress, activities to gain energy and shares tips to help improve mood. The app was designed for cancer patients and survivors who suffer from fatigue. Developed by psychologists and researchers specialized in psycho-oncology the app’s program is based on proven methods.
The app has become my ‘digital coach’ that I can always consult when I need it. Through using the app, it has allowed me to better manage my energy and be active again. This enabled me to take a new step in my career and I am now part of the Untire team. I enjoy educating others about this digital tool that has helped me so much. Hopefully many other patients and survivors who suffer from fatigue can benefit from it too!
I am an official support partner of the Grove Hotel in Bournemouth. The only hotel in the UK specifically for people affected by cancer and other life limiting conditions.