How Stijn dealt with his loss

“In 2005, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant with my sister. My sister was eventually born early by cesarean section so that my mother could be treated with chemotherapy and surgery. In principle, she was cured, but still, the doctors found cancer again 2 years later. She had liver cancer with metastases in the lungs. The first prognosis we got from the doctors at the time was that she would have about 3 weeks. Fortunately, these were not 3 weeks in the end, but she persevered for 3 years. She spent a lot of time in the hospital during that period, where there were highs and lows: sometimes she felt good, sometimes less. I remember well that my aunt was pregnant during this period, and then they made an ultrasound especially for my mother in her hospital room so that she could see her niece. That was very nice. The last week before she passed away she came to our house, so that everyone could say goodbye. Although it was sometimes difficult to see, it was really a valuable goodbye. She was very sharp throughout the entire period. She finally passed away in September 2010. The emotions of death came especially then. My father had a hard time because of course he suddenly had 4 children all alone. My aunts and grandmother stayed with us a lot, which was very nice during this period. “
“What was so beautiful about my mom was her positivity and strength. My mother always had a motto: "Life is like sailing, you can't change the wind but you can adjust the sails." That is a sentence that has stayed with me.”

“A little later in 2011 I remember sitting on the couch with my father and he felt a lump in his chest. I then said: "You need to have that checked."
And 4 months later we sat on the couch with the family again to tell them what was going on. My father also had breast cancer, but he was treated for this and it went pretty well until November 2013, when he suffered from epileptic seizures and was taken to the hospital, where they found a melanoma in his head, which caused the seizures. It also went very quickly. He ended up in the hospital and never really came out of it."

“Then a hectic period started for me, since I had to go live with my aunts. I wanted to be with my friends a lot during this time. We have been through so much, not only with myself but also with others. So I really had the feeling that everyone was sympathetic to me.”

“I received a lot of support from people around me that I didn't ask for, but afterwards I needed it. For example, my mentor helped me a lot, with whom I had weekly conversations. But the parents of friends of mine and my neighbour have also done a lot for me. They were all people who sympathized with me and wanted the best for me.”

“If you don't directly experience cancer, you may not be a victim. But it also affects you a lot. You are sometimes a bit forgotten, which is rightly so, because you are not the one who is ill. But loved ones are also having a very difficult time, and those people should not be forgotten. Cancer destroys everything, but also the people around it.”

“What I really want to say is that if you experience cancer, you are not alone. There is no shame in asking for help. It is incomprehensible and there is no good way to deal with it, but all pain heals.”

“And I also want to say that you have to check yourself well, both women and men. This is something I have also become very aware of. When in doubt, always go to professionals and ask all the questions you have, and don't google yourself.”