Annette Rexrodt - Surviving Cancer

Cancer - what can I do?

Someone is diagnosed with cancer every one-and-a-half minutes All of a sudden, time stands still. It was like silence descended on me, there was no up or down, the world stopped turning and time stood still. I was utterly alone, all by myself. I could hear my heart beating, felt my breath, tears wanted to rush down my cheeks but they never came. Was it just a nightmare?

I wanted to get out of this nightmare, but it was all too real: A few moments before this, I was carefully told that I had breast cancer , a huge tumour that had taken over the entire breast and lymph nodes. It is now fourteen years after myself and my family were forced to open and go through a locked door, behind which stood only suffering. We were completely 
unprepared and it took us right out of our comfortable everyday lives. None of us had expected death to reach its claws out for me so soon.

I was only 35 years old. My children were just three, five and seven years young. The chance of survival was slim. I was given a 15 percent chance. It became so clear to me in that moment how alone we truly are when standing at the edge of the abyss. 

I am often asked why I think it is that I survived? There are plenty of people who would like me to give them a lifeline. They want to know how they can conquer their cancer. Of course there is no one definitive answer to this question. Healing is always a multi-faceted thing, just like the development of the illness to begin with. Back then, I received all of the most cutting edge scientific treatments that were needed: Operation, chemo and radiotherapy, anti-hormone therapy. My family was there for me, so was my girlfriend... but I truly believe that hope played a big part in the process that made me strong again. Although I was statistically standing on the loser’s side, I chose hope.

"Maybe you can make it!" I kept repeating this thought more often and then started to nurture it. I became more active, searched for answers and developed my very own strategies to help me feel like I was taking the reigns for my own life again. Hope paved the way to my recovery. It has become my companion along my journey over the years, and I protect it like a precious treasure that nobody will ever be able to take from me. This companion of mine helped me become more critical, aware and vigilant over myself as well as making me care more about myself.

With that – with hope – my life has stayed lively. What can I do to stop the cancer from returning? - Finding a good path in life. After my originally impatient search for a path to being healthy, to find safety in life, I discovered over time, that I will watch my life pass me by if I obsessively try to fix everything and make everything perfect. The main thing really was to do something good for myself in the here and now. 

Loving life, curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, expert opinions, attentive and experienced doctors, my experiences and findings - all these things put me on a path day by day  to find what gives me spiritual as well as physical strength, power, joy and truth.  

Of course, this path is no guarantee that the cancer will not return. It's not even about that for me (any more), because there are no guarantees in life. Not the cancer, but life itself is now the focus of my existence. That is why I make sure to eat a balanced diet of things I like and that are good for my body, and also that I get enough exercise. I start the day with drawing oil and give myself plenty of little breaks throughout the day. I don't do multitasking any more and when I go to bed at night, I think back on all the good things that happened to me that day.

I don’t need to be perfect, I can make mistakes - but I try to be respectful and loving towards myself every single day. Today I know that there are no absolute and definitely no easy answers for my impatient questions back then: "Will I recover?", "Will I be here to see my kids growing up and what can I do to make that happen?” I was so incredibly impatient back then! Only with time, step by step and after years of learning have I gained insights that helped me see things more clearly and that allowed me to become more patient, but also more critical. I learned to live with my questions and in doing that, life became my best teacher.

Books and advice brochures by Annette Rexrodt von Fircks, as well as information about the Rexrodt von Fircks Foundation she founded in 2005 can be found here.