“I’m slowly getting my strength back”

Cancer recurrence during a pandemic

By Laszlo Lieffering


Valesqua de Waal (22) heard that her cancer, Non-Hodgkin, had just come back before the pandemic started. Her life suddenly completely changed, especially with the arrival of the coronavirus in the Netherlands. Valesqua was obliged to rewind.

When the pandemic started, our society froze. Valesqua’s life was already on hold because she heard her Non-Hodgkin came back on November 14, 2019. She didn’t realize how serious the corona situation was until it all started to unravel. Her fear grew once the Netherlands went into the ‘Intelligent Lockdown’. “My fear wasn’t dying from corona, even though I had more risk too. I just wanted the radiotherapy to be over and put everything behind me,” Valesqua explains.

Her scans and examinations were rescheduled when the lockdown started because corona patients had priority. While the delay was only a month, Valesqua had waited almost 6 months for her radiotherapy to start after she was re-diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin. “These times go with ups and downs. I’m on my own and can’t see anybody because of the safety measures. I only go outside for groceries. I have no distraction at all,” Valesqua says about her experiences. “At some point, I called a friend. When hearing the first tones of her voice, I started to cry hysterically. Normally I get strength from seeing friends, but now I feel really lonely,” she explains.

Valesqua is recovering from her radiotherapy, but her fight is not over. “My immune system is compromised. Some days I have a lot of energy and other days I can’t even get out of bed, but that’s okay,” she says. “I’m slowly starting to see my friends again, even though this is against the doctor’s advice. I feel better because of this. Only being able to read, play games, watch Netflix and work-out is nice, but gets really boring after two months.”

In two weeks, she wants to restart her ‘normal’ life slowly, although her immune system won’t be a hundred percent. She works in a closed facility for demented elderly. “Of course, I need to work for my money. In addition, my clients need me. Some of them can’t take care of themselves. The nurses are running from patient to patient, so I take care of the food, drinks and activities. It’s very important for them, but I also need this,” Valesqua explains. Neverthless, she’s slowly getting her strength back. “When my life froze, I couldn’t do anything. I yearn for my own, old, busy life.”