It all started in may 2019 when my mom got sick with cancer. It was a tough year for me.
It was the beginning of may 2019 when I was in New York with my Family. My mom was not feeling well all the time and we were desperate. I was suffering because i cared so much and nothing seemed to work. My mom has had many health issues over the past couple of years as i mentioned in another blog post (aboutme) she was working her whole life like crazy. So much like crazy that i didn’t see her often as a child. But this is another story..
In 2019 things escalated and my mom got worse and worse. New York used to be her favourite city and when you asked her about our trip she said it was horrible because she felt so tired. I was so sad and feeling helpless. She was lacking energy, throwing up, had digestive issues of all kinds and was feeling super lethargic and sick all the time. As medical student and daughter you worry. I worried.. I worried so much that I often spoke with the boyfriend i had that time about her condition. We both felt like something must be wrong. I send my mom to the doctors so often, very often, too often for my concerns. I felt like nobody was taking her serious with her complains. It must be psychological, some sort of burnout they said.. In the beginning i was okay with that but as things progressed I was not. I know my mom and what an incredible strong women she is. That she made is to New York and walked 30 000 steps with us while being deadly sick with cancer can show you how. Her will to fight for things is incredible.
As we got back from New York my mom was getting worse and worse, i was back in Bulgaria studying and my family was home in Germany. We were having phone calls daily and i was more and more worried about her situation. There must be something wrong, I want to go to Germany and go with her to all the doctors because i feel like they don’t take her serious enough i thought.. But things came quicker along than expected. It was the end of may, i had a phone call with my mom and she was not feeling right. I could hear in her voice and from her actions (she took the train and a cab to a business meeting because she didn’t feel good enough to drive herself) which she honestly never does, i knew things must be really really bad. In the afternoon i called again, i wanted to make sure she made it home safely. My mom was not responding. I called my dad. My dad told me that mom was pretty bad and they were in the hospital already. She couldn’t handle things again and needed urgent help. (My mom would have been to the doctors anyway the next day, i knew things must be horrible – my family is very good at suppressing pain and not telling anyone until it is too urgent).
It was may 29th and i new this day was no good. It must be something terrible wrong. My exam season was just about to start with 9 exams. Big exams from medschool. The first exam being on the next day. It was 7.30 pm when I was talking to my dad on the phone, where he told me that my mom has cancer.It must be pretty bad the doctors said. She had metastasis all over her pelvic region and they are doing more investigations to get details. I needed to go home.I knew it.
I was standing in front of Brick Bar in Varna. We just hang up the phone call, this very little moment which changed my life forever. I was thinking what kind of cancer is it? how bad is it for real? what are her chances, i was worried. I also felt a little relief, because i knew that know she will finally get help. There is no mystery more about her condition and she must have suffered for sooo long TOO LONG! I was angry, angry about her doctors which didn’t do their job well in my concerns. How can this be unnoticed for soo long, too long? I was so angry you have no idea.
I called my brother. I asked him to stop by the car and call me when he has time. It is very important to be in a safe environment and stop the car if he is driving.. It was a very sad moment i will remember for sure. I also called my beloved sister and family (the family from my heart, I love them so much i don’t know what i would do without them) I also met my best friend Sophie. She was incredible.
My flight was already booked. I knew i had to fly home to Germany directly with the next flight going. I wrote the exam Occupational Diseases and flew back to Germany. After I got home i went to the hospital and surprised my mom. She did not know that i was coming but oh my she was in a bad situation. It was Thursday, Christi Himmelfahrt the 30th of May and a holiday in Germany. The doctor which came earlier in the morning told her she should make friends with dying and thinking about funeral etc. There was not much hope for us. I was so sad hearing all the news and that nobody believed in her and gave her chances. I was sure that i will not accept anything but fighting. My mom and i were singing songs in her hospital room and she told me which one to play on her funeral. It was a tough day and this songs are making me cry all the time. I can not listen to them anymore..
The next day i met with the doctors and the team my mom was observed by. She had end stage ovarian cancer with liver metastasis and the situation is super bad. The type of ovarian cancer my mom has was the most malignant type and very deadly. At that time the doctors even suspected more, they suspected to have some sort of malignancy in the GI tract as well. Probably a Krukenberg tumor or some stomach cancer.
I was desperate, but talking to the team of doctors made me hope. After they knew that i studied medicine and was not accepting a „lets take her home and watch her dying“ they were willing to help me. I told them i would do anything, no matter how small the chances are i will fight and bring her to every specialist on the planet. „Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt“ is the quote i had in my mind. And that only means to see her dead for me. Any sign of life i will take and fight for her. At that time my mom was in the worst condition ever. The talk from the doctors in the morning really didn’t make her much hope and everyone was desperate. She was too tired to fight for herself. My dad and brother did not have much hope either. The doctors told us to take her home and make the best of her last 6-8 weeks until she dies. Chemotherapy would be the normal treatment regime, but in her condition not of real chance and only making her quality of life worse. We should just take her home and let her die in peace. (The 5 year survival rate for her ovarian cancer was less than 5-10%, the information i found now displays 17% which is already much better)
I was desperate. I did not want to accept that. My family not knowing much about medicine and only hearing all the horrible stories about Chemotherapy did not have much hope. I struggled with myself but i knew we had to try it. I could not live the idea of letting her die. Dying without even trying? that is not something i can live with. I talked to my family and all the doctors and quickly decided to start Chemotherapy. In the next week, Thursday, 1 week after the diagnosis she started. I was so happy that she was home, outside of the hospital and in a peaceful, quiet environment. I skipped all my exams and knew that I would focus 100% on my mom now. I researched everything about nutrition and cancer. I was looking up all the things about ovarian cancer and chances. Luckily i had a good understanding of the human body and nutrition/ lifestyle at that time already. I am super grateful for all the things i learned until that time and i that i was in Medschool. I knew if i would have taken another path of studies my mom would not be there today..
I prescribed my mom a special diet, special supplements and took care over all her meals. I cooked every meal, made her fresh carrot juice in the morning and spent all my time researching things, helping her out or going for a walk with my moms dog Bella.
At that time she did not want to eat. She hated food and o boy, she hated the smell of coffee – the smell of a lot of things. There were nights were i was thinking that she didn’t make it. I was so desperate, several times she had been out and in of the hospital as she could not cope with her pain and suffering and my dad and i were to afraid of her not making it without help. There were moments were she didn’t wan’t to live. She did not want to eat or drink she could not talk. She could not sit in a chair or go alone to the toilet. Her body was simply not able to. I remember several times where she got unconscious at home and i was afraid of her dying.
There were many nights were she was in the hospital and i was the crazy relative calling every hour to make sure that she is alive. During the nights i wanted to be with her, I could not sleep. I was so afraid of falling asleep and when i wake up to hear that she is dead. I feared going for a walk with the Dog and leaving her for 30 min because i was afraid she could die in the meantime.
It was horrible. I am super grateful that i was not alone. My dad was with me from day 1 so were my friends. And my boyfriends family at that time. There were many great people in my life helping me out i am deeply grateful for.
At some point i new i had to go back to Bulgaria, i skipped the normal exam session and new i had to make it somehow. 1 week and 8 exams. It was tough. I tried to sit all of them but knew I would probably only make some and do everything else in September where i would have another week. I even had another exam from the previous year.. Radiology..
The night i flew back to Bulgaria my boyfriend at that time had an accident. He was drunk and fell out from his Balcony from the 4th floor. This was another moment which changed my life forever. Loosing not only my mom but also my boyfriend (we were more than 3 years together at that time) felt sick. He was in the Neurosurgery department and we didn’t know much his roommates were telling me. I was desperate. Coming from a home with a dying mom to Bulgaria and a possibly dying boyfriend? This moment made me rethink my relationships in all areas. I felt lonely and sick and knew i had to change my life for massive.
As i arrived in Bulgaria i took my exams. I made most of them luckily even tho i didn’t study much. I was taking care of my boyfriend every day bringing him food and belongings and making sure he is recovering well. Luckily he had only some minor fractures and was not paralyzed or dead like expected. (which is actually a wonder – more than 80% of people will be dead or at least paralyzed after a fall from that hight)
After my exams i went back to Germany. Took care of my mom and we were celebrating massive achievements. She was getting better and better. Besides her massive chemotherapy regimen she told me she felt better than anytime before. She was going out for walks daily in nature and even started again to swim. Since it was summer she went to a pubic swimming pool (Freibad) and swam 1000m a day. I was so happy. She got better and better and her cancer was slowly disappearing. It was like a wonder the doctors said. I felt so happy and grateful. This is the biggest achievement of my life. To give my mom the chance of another life. To see how she moves and lives now. It is incredible. Like a second life, a second chance which she is using. Using for herself, using for our relationship and our family. I am forever grateful for this experience and how strong it made me as a person.
We were looking for doctors to help her, to operate her and remove all the cancer that is left. When we started chemotherapy the cancer was spread too massive, there was no way to operate her as the surgeons told us. The Professor from the University Clinic in Cologne, a very passionate doctor was our hope. He and his team suggested to continue Chemotherapy and then see if my mom can be operated or not. We made it, after the 6th regime of Chemotherapy she was able to be operated and the surgery was successful. They were able to remove all the cancer that was left and since that day she is cancer free.
We had many ups and downs, and which such a disease you never have the guarantee of being healthy for real. That is why the survival rates are given for 5 years. It is very important to continue to observe the situation and do all screenings etc. regularly.
This disease process made me really strong as a person. I learned so much from this experience, it is incredible. Please never stop fighting. This story is as real as it gets and a true lesson of hope. Do not let other people destroy your dreams. Fight for yourself and the people you love, you only have one life. Make the most of it.
Many thanks to https://www.pcrm.org/ for their amazing nutrition informations!!! I can not recommend them enough if you want to know more about good nutrition! Dr Neal Barnard is a true hero!
I also love nutritionfacts.org and Dr Gregers information ❤