Lars Penke

Age: Adult
Association: Patient
Region: Germany
Cancer: T-Cell Lymphoma
Written by Lars Penke

"I am more than proud of what my body has achieved and what my mindset let me achieve."

‘This would be very unlikely for somebody at your age!’ ‘You are very sick, you should take things slowly’ I have heard these sentences many times since being treated for symptoms of my severe lung embolism. In the end what I learned is that you are the best doctor for yourself. If you have the mental strength to learn about your disease and to discuss on eye level with doctors, you will gain great confidence through having the feeling of positively influencing your recovery by yourself. Only you can listen to the symptoms of your body and know what it feels like. Listen to others experience but critically reflect, what you want to keep for yourself or just let go.

In June 2018, I started having fever, joint pain and heavy night sweats. I was due to fly to Rio, Brazil for the second year of my Master studies. Due to my previously treated Lupus disease and the chameleon like symptoms, doctors treated my symptoms with a high dose of steroids. My symptoms got slightly better and I got the good to fly to Brazil from my doctors. Despite fever, drastic weight loss, and overall bad health I pushed through university. In November, I got bleedings in my eyes, that was the first time Leukemia came up as a potential disease. Flying home early and failing my studies wasn’t an option until that date. Health is the most precious thing we have, but our brain and mindset is often the leading factor for decisions, not the pain and discomfort we feel. I was in the worst shape I had ever been in, however even pushed myself to an exam, hardly being able to read, and not sure how I got there from the metro, after almost collapsing in it. 2 weeks later I was flown home with a doctor, delayed because my blood samples were bad. Another 2 weeks later I got the diagnosis, and that was when I realized what my body had gone through in the past months. But I managed, so my body could manage chemo and a stem cell transplant in the upcoming month. Being able to walk and do sports again just 6 months later. Our organism is a master of recovery and adaptation. I am more than proud of what my body has achieved and what my mindset let me achieve.