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Navigating Mental Health Challenges
A Personal Journey during uncertain times

Navigating Mental Health Challenges

Life has a way of throwing unexpected curveballs at us when we least expect it. In my case, the shock came in the form of a cancer diagnosis. As I embarked on a new chapter of my life, pursuing a long-awaited education, I was suddenly faced with the daunting reality of ovarian cancer. The following blog recounts my experiences and the mental health journey that unfolded during this challenging period.

A Diagnosis That Altered My Path

Just as I was finally able to pursue my educational aspirations, fate had a different plan in store for me. A routine checkup revealed a tumor that was rapidly growing, and the diagnosis was ovarian cancer. The news hit me like a tidal wave, leaving me feeling uncertain and overwhelmed. However, amidst the initial shock, I knew I had to make a choice – either succumb to despair or face the challenge with positivity.


The Waiting Game

As I grappled with the news, another obstacle presented itself. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitals in Switzerland were overwhelmed, and I found myself placed on a waiting list for surgery. Weeks turned into months, and the uncertainty of not knowing when the surgery would take place only added to the mental and emotional strain. Balancing work commitments and attending classes on Fridays and Saturdays became an intricate juggling act, intensified by the need to undergo various tests. 

Keeping It Close

During this challenging time, I made the conscious decision to keep my diagnosis mostly private, sharing the news only with my closest friends. Although it was tempting to confide in others, I wanted to maintain a sense of normalcy in my day-to-day life. However, this decision also meant carrying the weight of my illness alone, which posed its own set of challenges in terms of emotional support. 


Finding Solace in Meditation

In search of inner strength and stability, I turned to meditation. It became a refuge where I could disconnect from the worries and uncertainties surrounding my diagnosis. Through regular meditation practice, I discovered the power of mindfulness in calming my anxious mind and soothing my overwhelmed soul. It became an essential tool in coping with the emotional rollercoaster that accompanied my cancer journey.


Cultivating Positivity

Embracing positivity was not an easy task, but I realized it was a crucial step in my mental health journey. Instead of dwelling on the uncertainties and fears, I focused on the moments of joy and gratitude that existed in my life. Surrounding myself with loved ones, engaging in activities that brought me happiness, like painting in my studio and spending time in nature, meditating and celebrating small victories became instrumental in maintaining a positive outlook. 

Receiving a cancer diagnosis during a pivotal moment in my life was undeniably challenging. The journey was marked by uncertainty, stress, and the need for strength both physically and mentally. However, I learned that even in the darkest moments, there is always a glimmer of hope. By incorporating meditation and cultivating a positive mindset, I was able to navigate the hurdles with resilience and grace. 
To anyone facing a similar situation, I encourage you to seek solace in the practices that bring you peace. Remember that you are not alone, and reaching out for support from loved ones and professionals is essential. Together, we can find the strength to overcome the most daunting challenges life throws our way, emerging stronger and more resilient on the other side. 
And in my case, I am 1 of 4 patients, where after the removal of ovarian tumours it turned out to not be a malignant one.

By Katja van Strijk