Andrea S. - Somehow, my illness became my friend

The Value of a Fleeting Moment

I was 27, living in Spain and had just had an epiphany about the value of living in the now while enjoying the warm autumn sunshine on my face. Just a few hours later I found out how important it is to live in the here and now, and that nothing is guaranteed.

I got word from Germany that my father most likely had leukaemia and that my grandmother was on her death bed. Welcome to the real world...

Ten months after I returned to my home town I myself was a patient in the clinic where my father received treatment. The reason: Suspicion of malignant breast tissue. They had not actually detected a tumour, but all the signs were there - so they decided to operate. My doctor didn’t take me seriously because of my age, and I have to thank the psycho-oncologist of the leukaemia ward where my father was treated that I got an appointment for a mammography at all.

I was excited to start a new job right up to the day I was diagnosed. But the "suspicion" was confirmed. Judging by the doctor’s elaborations and their worried faces, things looked pretty serious. I lost my right breast soon after. I started looking into everything to do with breast cancer and alternative healing methods. I learned to positively focus on positive thoughts to help improve my physical and spiritual well-being. You can learn to steer your thoughts toward the positive. Andrea discovered her love for windsurfing during her various stays in rehabilitation clinics on the North Sea coast. Her loyal dog has been by her side for seven years.

I also changed my diet and have become a vegetarian. My father died shortly after I received my diagnosis. I was pretty disappointed with results of mainstream medicine, so I decided to take charge of my health and began looking for alternative healing methods. That is also why I refused the anti-hormone therapy later on. If I could go back and make the choice again, I would still turn down the chemo and radiotherapy.

I had a rough time of it – I still struggle sometimes. But in many ways my illness became a sort of friend to me. It taught me to look after myself, to look for what is important in life and to generally value my life much more.

Back then, I sat down with a friend to write a bucket list of the things I still wanted to do and change in my life. I have fulfilled many of my dreams since then, have made a lot of changes and continue to re-evaluate the things I still want. I have had a dog as my companion for seven years, I own an old camping bus and thanks to my rehabilitation clinic by the North Sea, I discovered a passion for windsurfing.

I worked part-time for years, because I didn’t have that much energy after the treatments, but also because time became much more valuable to me than possessions. I am constantly reminding myself that life just happens when it happens - and nothing happens when you are well-prepared.

The sea has become like my second home. I draw a lot of my strength from nature. I love watching animals and having them around me. They show me how to live in the moment and how to appreciate the little things. Just like nature, yoga is a source of energy for me. I am currently training to become a yoga teacher. My dream is to show people the positive effects of yoga on the body and the mind, and maybe even help other women get through their battle with breast cancer.

To this day, after almost 9 years, I have had no breast reconstruction. Maybe I will decide to do it further down the line, but for now surgery is off the table. I have recently started modelling for Anita and absolutely love showing other women that you don’t need a breast augmentation to feel good about yourself. It may sound strange: I am very thankful for the things I experienced because of my illness. Despite all the worries and fears, cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me.