09 September, 2023

Inspired by a book

Four years ago, I bought myself a birthday bouquet at the flower market. Matching the late summer/early autumn season, I opted for carnations and dahlias - just like those we used to have in our garden when I was a child. I rewarded myself for a couple of tough years in which I came to terms with the reality of life. I found the German edition of "Terre des hommes" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in one of those bookcrossing places you can find in many cities, and I cried my eyes out several times while reading it.
Even though premature menopause is a well-known long-term side effect of childhood cancer treatment, I didn't expect it to come so soon, leaving me without a choice or a possibility to prepare. The sweats I jokingly labeled as "probably menopause" turned out to be just that in retrospect, but since they disappeared quickly, I didn't really give it a second thought - after all, I had no tangible plans for family and/or children yet, so what's the point of bothering about circumstances I can not change? Things turned nasty when it hit me that even if I wanted to, the idea of a classic family would be hard to achieve at best, and super expensive to borderline illegal at worst. It didn't help that Google would randomly come up with ads featuring family planning and/or happy childfree celebrities based on my search for answers - an algorhythm that was both heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time, if you have a dry sense of humour. What really hit me, however, was the mental effect that came with the lack of hormones, resulting in an unexplained tiredness that took over every aspect of my being, as if I have lost the momentum of my life. Being an avid crafter with an unlimited fantasy, it was devastating to see that I could't seem to come up with any idea when I was in my crafting corner, and even the most wonderful crafting supplies didn't spark any reaction at all. Fast forward to finding an amazing Ob/Gyn who managed to fix my hormonal mess, I began to feel like my old self again. I like to believe that being a scientifically thinking person helped a lot, but I certainly wish that I could get the proper treatment sooner, and easier. But then again, I was on the right track finally, just a couple of exams left to finish med school at last, which should be easy peasy a whole ton of studying still, but manageable. 

Or so I thought. Little did I know that only two months after this rather symbolic gift to myself, I would face a second cancer diagnosis, which can be another long-term side effect of childhood cancer treatment.
Being fully at peace with my situation, I intended to embrace the journey as it comes, participating in the hospital routine and the decision-making surrounding my treatment like the med student I am. Thinking I could use my knowledge to professionally discuss my case, and be involved in everything and anything, my hospital stay turned into a never-ending nightmare full of medical gaslighting and mockery. I never thought that patient handling could go from textbook-like talks pre-surgery to absolutely disregarding everything I agreed upon once I was transferred back to the ward following the procedure. I never thought it would be possible for medical staff to treat patients like shit up to the point of denying basic necessities such as food, medication, and a quiet environment to recover after major surgery, not to mention no insight in my files, no access to rehabilitation, and no consideration of my observations and concerns. I've been running things through my head ever since, thinking about whether I could have forseen and/or prevented any of this, with no avail - there's no deeper meaning I could draw from the experience, no feeling of gratitude and blessings, no newly found appreciation of life. 
After an experience that shattered every aspect of trust in a patient-doctor relationship, I'm still struggling to find my identity, find the strength to get my studies done, or the courage to leave for something completely different.

As September is the golden month of childhood cancer awareness, I again took this old book from my shelf: "It's not about the bike - my journey back to life" by Lance Armstrong. Regardless of the controversy surrounding the author (and doping in sports as such), this was the book that helped me sort out many hardships during my teenage years, and ultimately made me pursue a medical degree thinking I would make a difference. 
I like to think that the care for little warriors has improved in the past years, and since more and more children survive, it should be crucial for doctors to understand that some side effects of treatments may appear decades after the initial illness, making long-term follow up care an important aspect of life in those specific individuals, taking into account their complex age-specific needs. In reality, I've only met a few doctors who are ready to understand the issues I'm facing, and unfortunately, most don't even try. I'm tired of repeating my history over and over again, laying everything out, only to be dismissed and belittled. I'm tired of being told there's nothing to worry about when I know that this couldn't be furher from the truth. I'm tired of promises about how the fatigue will go away at some point, when I'm still too exhausted to function on a daily basis. 

I might find my own way back to life eventually, but I'm not there yet.  
I'm not sure whether I'll get myself flowers for this birthday, but I created a simple birthday card featuring different yellow flowers. 
I cut the pictures from a magazine and placed them onto matching green background paper. I then placed them onto a slimline card base. In the end, I created a simple birthday sentiment using golden alphabet stickers from my stash. I used a dark yellow piece of cardboard to go with it, and added it to the left lower corner of my card. 
I like the CAS look of the card even though there isn't a lot of white/unused space - the card looks very much CAS for me since it doesn't feature any embellishments (apart from the shiny sentiment). It's also CAS in terms of the colours I used, which go with the current challenge over at the Alphabet challenge blog, L for Literature (inspired by a book): yellow has been THE main colour for me for many years since I received my copy of the Armstrong book, while gold represents the golden ribbon that symbolizes September as childhood cancer awareness month. Bonus point: birthdays are usually happy occasions, which makes it possible for me to end on a positive note. 

as you like it: autumn or winter (I'll prefer autumn at any time - I'm not against winter at all, but as I'm very sensitive to cold it makes me stay inside most of the time even though it has its charms. Autumn on the other hand, is one last celebration of colours and warmth, especially when there are sunny autumn days that allow me to observe the changes in nature.)
creative inspirations: ATG with optional twist "sentiment"
little red wagon: square or rectangle
love to craft: ATG 
pennys papertake: ATG paper
unicorn challengeblog: layer it up


  1. Beautiful card. Thank you for joining us at Penny's Paper-Crafty Challenge. Greetings Sylvia DT.

  2. A beautiful card and flowers
    Thank you for joining us at Penny's Paper Crafty Challenge good luck Ginny DT
    Penny's Challenge

  3. Wow, so many times you have bounced back, but I understand ...how many times can a ball be thrown before it wears down? This most recent visit to the hospital must have been very difficult for so many reasons. Maybe, it was a moment in your life for later ~ when you are on that end of the treatment as a dr. Maybe then you will be in the position to protect someone else from the medical professionals who simply do not understand. The average patient with little medical knowledge needs an advocate. You are amazing, but being amazing can be tiring! Take care of yourself and know many of us are believing in you! This post shows your strength and beauty through the courageous writing and gorgeous photos! Your card is beautiful with the gold flowers and I'll remember the gold ribbon and think of you! I thank you for sharing your story with us at Path of Positivity! ~Katrina

  4. Gorgeous Autumn blooms and colours..
    Thank you so much for joining in with our challenge this fortnight at As You Like It..

    Luv CHRISSYxx

  5. And also.. Thank you so much for joining in with our challenge at Little Red Wagon, hope you will play again..
    Luv CHRISSYxx

  6. You sound like a strong, amazing lady who has been through tough times, but you've battled through and are still standing! No wonder you are tired - general, everyday life is often exhausting, and you have had so much to deal with on top. Thank you for sharing your story.
    Your sunny, yellow flowers make a perfect birthday card. I like the CAS vibe and the symbolism. Happy Birthday to you, Cheiro!
    Thanks for sharing your work at The Path of Positivity this September. x

  7. Lovely project. Thank you for sharing with us over at Worldwide Crafters and Colorists Challenge.
    Wendy DT

  8. An inspirational project and post,wishing you the fortitude to cope with future developments

  9. Great flowers and a great design of this card. These three pieces covered with flowers of the same color look so interesting. I love the blue background and the wish is really well placed.
    Thank you for taking part in the current Everybody Art Challenge.
    Hugs Uschi

  10. Such a wonderful insight to your life, Veronika! Cancer is a life-altering disease. Finding the right physician and team is crucial and often difficult. I had no idea that you were studying medicine! Don't let this stop you from following your dream and don't let mediocrity stop your progress. Keep working toward your dream! Hugs

  11. Life has dealt you some heavy blows, I hope you find the strength and courage to continue with your studies, your own experiences will help you make a difference to the lives and treatment of others.
    Your card is lovely, a clean and crisp design, the floral images are bright and cheerful and look great together.
    Thank you for playing along with our Anything Goes Challenge at Crafty Calendar.

  12. Such a pretty card. Thanks for joining us at Creative Inspirations and good luck Jayne DT