It was not unexpected when on June 29, 2019, the message came that Sanne had died. Sanne Deurloo, until then editor-in-chief of NEMO Kennislink, had metastatic breast cancer. We knew that treatment was no longer possible and she would die. What was completely unexpected was the message she sent to Esther on June 28, early in the morning. “Still there, would you like to speak” it said. It took a moment for Esther to realize what she was reading and that she had to get out the door like the bastard. To Amsterdam.
Esther Thole en Anne van Kessel
photo Esther: Tessa Posthuma de Boer, photo Anne: Linda Wit
Sanne was in bed and it was not going well, that was immediately clear. The conversation was short, but Sanne managed to communicate her plans in her characteristic, firm way: NEMO Kennislink had to write about what it is like to live with cancer. Not about the clinical side, but about everything else. About what it does to you when you have to deal with uncertainty and disappointment. About how doctors communicate. About the impact on your family and how heavy it is for them. And how you tell your child you’re dying. “I want you to get these pieces done,” she said, “do you want to do that?”. “Of course,” said Esther. Anne offered to help and the result is now: a special file entirely devoted to living with cancer.
It became 24 pieces. Articles and interviews in which we link the personal experiences of cancer patients and their loved ones to insights from science. What do psychologists, epidemiologists, grief experts, sexologists and other researchers and practitioners already know about the psychosocial side of cancer and where are they still lacking knowledge? And to what extent can patients and their loved ones already be helped?
We have tried to cover the subject as broadly as possible and to pay attention to subjects that often remain underexposed when it comes to cancer. Pick up your work while you are still tired. Saying goodbye to your future plans when you are in your early twenties and get cancer. The enormous burden on the partner and children when cancer enters a family. Nurses and doctors feel sad when they face death over and over again.
We have been working on this theme with the entire editorial staff. For some, the subject was close to their content specialization, while others had to take a plunge into a new area. But for everyone it was an intensive, at times emotional and at the same time beautiful project. With stories that stay with you. About grief, bad luck and setback; but also about scribbling and perseverance. And especially about love – of people for each other, of scientists for their research, of practitioners for their patients and their profession.
We hope that this theme and these stories release something. That they make us think and – where possible – put us into action. To look differently at cancer and the people it affects.