(Survive) life with breast cancer – Part 1: Nadja Seipel was considered cured, then the cancer came back. She knows he will kill her

I was great.

(Survive) life with breast cancer – Part 1: Nadja Seipel was considered cured, then the cancer came back. She knows he will kill her

I was great. I was training for a marathon to run a month later, had a resting heart rate of 43 and was at my fitness peak. It never occurred to me that I might have cancer. Not even when I discovered the knot while showering. i was so naive You don't feel sick, that's the insidious thing. Only when the lump was still there two weeks later, even bigger, did I go to the doctor. With tears he informed me that the knot is conspicuous. That's when I knew I had breast cancer. That was in 2015. For me, the diagnosis of hormone-dependent breast cancer was a death sentence, I was sure that I had to die. My daughter was five years old at the time, and I had only been with my new boyfriend for a year. He's nine years younger than me. I told him that I could understand if he goes and builds a family with someone else. But he stayed. Immediately after the diagnosis you find yourself in a spiral, you just react, endure the countless examinations, run from treatment to treatment. You don't even have the head to question anything, trust the doctors. At the same time, you have to make difficult decisions. First came the chemotherapy. My hair was falling out, my stomach was queasy, and my hands and feet were numb. Nevertheless, I got through reasonably well, certainly due to my fitness. This was followed by a bilateral breast-conserving operation and silicone implants. The following summer we went to rehab. That was a great time, I can recommend it to everyone to get out and to exchange ideas with others. And it's also good for family and friends, they can take a breather. Because the disease not only affects you, everyone is affected. Then everyone has cancer.

I had just accepted a new job when I was diagnosed. I am a teacher. The school year should only last 12 days for me. But by the next school year I was back in life, picking up where I left off. I was able to work full time again and even took part in the Ironman Kraichgau, a triathlon. In October 2020 I was officially considered cured. However, I was ailing that fall and winter. I had a cough that wouldn't go away, I was constantly exhausted, at one point I even choked. For the first time, I was also mentally affected. I struggled a lot with the fact that our mutual desire to have children could not be fulfilled because of me - due to my age and as a result of the chemotherapy. I was always on sick leave. But I didn't expect the cancer to come back. The symptoms are very typical.

In January I couldn't get up the stairs, I couldn't breathe. As it turned out, I had a pleural effusion. A total of 3.7 liters of fluid had accumulated under the costal arch. I felt like the broth was up my throat. The lungs were punctured, I was operated on. That was in the middle of the corona phase, I was lying alone in my hospital room, wasn't allowed to have visitors and then received the diagnosis, which was really supposed to be my death sentence. Doctors found malignant cancer cells in the liquid. My Edward, that's what I called my breast cancer at the time because it looked like Edward's scissorhands hand on the ultrasound scan, had metastasized - to the lungs, liver, lymph nodes and bones. All in all, a tumor ball with a circumference of 12 centimeters. The doctor gave me another six months. At that time, a lady from the psycho-oncological care department asked me a question that really shook me up: What is your last wish? I can still remember thinking: Is it time yet? And what is that supposed to be? Do I have to write a bucket list now or what's here now? I was so overwhelmed.

According to estimates by the Robert Koch Institute, around 66,800 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. For women, it is the most common type of cancer. Young people are also increasingly affected. The German Cancer Society speaks of over 18,000 women dying of breast cancer every year. Men can also get breast cancer, with them there are around 770 new cases each year. The breast cancer month of October draws attention to the situation of patients.

I left the hospital with a tube coming out of my chest from which I was able to drain fluid on my own. It wasn't sexy, but it saved my life. This time was probably the worst of my life. I was scared to death. I was afraid that I might not see my daughter grow up, not see her first love. I made my will, we got married. After two months the hose could be pulled and from then on things went up. However, I am now a palliative care patient. I need treatment for the rest of my life. I will die from the cancer. So far the therapy is working well. To support this, I have also changed my diet to a vegetarian low-carb diet, and I rarely drink alcohol. So far, the tumors have shrunk by 65 percent. But that can also change quickly. It can be over any month. This fear is always on the back of my neck. But we don't give it that much space anymore. I think mental attitude makes a big difference. You have to stay positive. It's no good asking yourself why you're so sick. That just wears you down. Sure, you don't forget cancer, it leaves lasting traces. You are no longer so resilient, you have problems concentrating and finding words. And even if it appears from the outside that you have been healed, it looks completely different on the inside. You wake up in the morning and the first thing you do is listen to yourself, check whether everything is really all right. But I'm fine at the moment. So good that I made a three-week pilgrimage on the Camino in May. Because the idea of ​​the last wish just stuck with me. I wanted to walk 600 kilometers to Cape Finisterre. I didn't quite make it. I twisted my ankle on the way, but that was it for me in Santiago. As it later turned out, I had run 300 kilometers with a broken fibula. That was the adrenaline because I really wanted to make it. I didn't make it to the cape, but I take that as a sign. It just shouldn't be my last wish.

In the beginning I only planned on a monthly basis, then half a year, now we are working towards next summer. We are currently converting a van into a camper so that I can still see as much of Europe as possible and we can generate many memories together. In June we want to fulfill my daughter's wish: vacation on the Adriatic Sea. A Scandinavia tour is also planned and in Slovenia we would like to drive along the Soča. It's good to have something to look forward to. I was scared enough, now it's enough.

Nadja Seipel is active as a "winner bride" on Instagram, where she reports on her life with cancer and encourages others. She also runs the blog Edward My Breast Cancer. A book of the same name about her first year with the disease was published in 2021.

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