Turning back time: Before my diagnosis

I was forty years old. I had been happily married for a decade. We had three children of our own and I was also stepmother to the three children of my husband’s first marriage. Six kids in total, from preschool to university. And we wanted one more! That was me some weeks before I found out about having chronic lymphatic leukemia.

Work

I took care of the three younger children and worked for about thirty hours a week. I had finally found the perfect professional mixture for myself. In the mornings, I worked as a coach for unemployed youth, the vast majority of them from disadvantaged and marginalized backgrounds. I dealt with murderers, drug addicts and prostitutes on a daily basis. I loved my job. I was able to inspire those young people and help them to get on with their difficult lives. Their average age was 22, so we had lots of fun, even though we were discussing tragedies and trying to find viable Solutions for them. Sometimes there were no solutions. I found it beneficial to admit that. If somebody is in misery and there is no way out I think the least he or she deserves is honesty. I got tons of positive feedback from my unemployed clients. I still have their cards, emails and presents at home and I stay in touch with some of them. Their life stories were an inspiration to me. Dealing with other people, listening to them, laughing with them and giving them advice was an extraordinary experience for me. I am rather extroverted so I love to be surrounded by a crowd.

On the other hand, I have a very academic side. I completed two different careers at university, went abroad, worked in politics and journalism, in international organizations and later in multinational corporations. I started my own business when the children were born and focused on public relations, public affairs and ghostwriting. Soon, scientific ghostwriting and participating in international research projects became a priority for me. I enjoy gathering information, structuring it and drawing conclusions. The combination of coaching unemployed youth and doing profound, very well paid research besides seemed to be tailor made for me.

I was always busy, however, as I enjoyed every single second of what I was doing I did not feel stressed. I planned to stop working as a coach in January or February 2015, because our family was planning a big move. That was some weeks before I found out about my chronic lymphatic leukemia.

Kids

My three children, who were all born within a time span of three years in 2005, 2007 and 2008, were tremendously independent and individualistic and they were such a joy to us. Ever since the last one of them was born we had been thinking about a fourth child. I was more reluctant than my husband, because I felt I needed to concentrate on my career after all those pregnancies. Yet I had always said that I would have a baby for my 40th birthday. A baby instead of the blues that getting older gives you, was my motto. I had never experienced problems in getting pregnant before, so around my birthday in August we started to get serious about baby number four.

It was in December 2014, I was still working and receiving numerous Christmas presents from the young people I coached. I was not sure yet, but I thought that I might be pregnant. That was some weeks before I found out about my chronic lymphatic leukemia.

Social Life and Travel Plans

When I met my husband, we travelled a lot together and continued to do so when the children were born. We both loved backpacking and adventure trips. As I had lived in a lot of other places before, I knew that visiting a country as a tourist and staying there are two different pairs of shoes. We wanted to have it all, we wanted to expatriate, so we decided to move from Central to Southern Europe. A couple of years of evaluating had preceded our decision, a time of visiting countries, looking at schools and houses there, considering the job markets and other things that mattered to us. Years of preparing the children psychologically. We were extremely excited now that the date of our move was coming closer.

At the same time, our social life was in full swing. Somehow, we had started to organize dinner parties regularly at our home. In the beginning it would be perhaps two couples once a month. Soon we had up to ten couples three or four times a month. I became an expert cook, my husband a talented table decorator and the children served as barkeepers. We all loved it! Our circle of friends grew and grew and grew. One thing I am particularly proud of is that during those dinner parties conversation would never be superficial. We switched between amusing and tragic issues, we were honest, we laughed and we even cried. We created long lasting bonds.

In December 2014, I enjoyed my job and the dinner parties, I thought I might be pregnant and I was busy organizing the move to Southern Europe scheduled for July 2015. The move was going to be the crystallization of our dreams. That was some weeks before I found out about my chronic lymphatic leukemia.

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