Dancer with cancer

Yeah, I know. The headline might be a little too much, but I couldn’t think of anything better.

Today I would like to finally talk about something that really matters to me since the beginning of my cancer journey. I think, since many of you are dancers, this might be interesting for you. It’s important to me, to tell you the story from a dancer perspective. What stopped me from dancing. What helped me. How dance saved me.

I’m dancing and teaching for many years already. Although dance was just a hobby first, now it’s my side job and an important part of my life. Anybody who saw me brushing my teeth in the morning or cooking a meal, know that sometimes I can’t stop moving around. Most of my friends are dancers, my parents absolutely love dancing, I’m constantly listening to music and sometimes there even might be one or two dancers infront of my camera. 😉 I couldn’t think of life without dance. That made the diagnosis even harder.

I felt, that something was wrong, when I wasn’t able to breath and swallow anymore. My throat was swollen since a few days and I constantly told myself it was because of dancing. I thought that maybe I did pull a muscle and it will be ok soon. I guess we’ve all had these kind of thoughts. When I was done with teaching two classes that wednesday night, I knew something was going on. I’ve always been well-conditioned, but I was unable to breath, eventhough the classes were not super exhausting. You can read here what happened after that.

When I went to the hospital, I was currently competing at a lot of dance championships with my girls of Team Legit. I had been busy preparing them since a few months and they’ve just been qualified to dance at the national german championship two weeks later. I wanted to train even harder and get ready. But reality looked different. Two weeks in the hospital, chemotherapy, a lot of operations. I didn’t feel like dancing at all. Usually dance distracted me from my problems, but in this moments I only felt shocked. I couldn’t even listen to music during the first two weeks, without feeling uncomfortable. There was no song that could have said what I did feel in this situation. Nothing that could have distract me.

In the hospital I knew that I needed to let some people know about everything. There were some dance events coming up that wanted me to take pictures. First one was one of my favorite events, Funkin Stylez. I tried to think realistic and asked myself if I would be ready to shoot at a three-day event within a month. But the idea of working at Funkin Stylez in a few weeks and meeting all of these creative people, motivated me to be strong. I knew I did not want to miss it! I needed support!

Fortunately I was in touch with Timo (@t._dettmers). He is a photographer and dancer, just like me, and I really like his work. I knew, that I trusted him to do this thing together, so he came all the way from Oldenburg and we shot the event together.

Of course the training with my dance team wasn’t the only thing that was affected. Also my regular classes did. I always tried to teach, but I had to realize how I got weaker and weaker every time and I couldn’t do anything. On top of that I wasn’t able to breath. I cancelled many times and had someone sub my classes. I did less sports every week and get weaker every day. It was a downward spiral.

I don’t know how I survived this summer. Twenty weddings, an intern, dance classes from time to time, the super hot weather. And all of this while my energy got less from day to day. Not being able to really dance was horrible. I didn’t even listen to music a lot, cause it made me want to dance and then I got sad. I stopped my happy dances through the house. I didn’t even watch dance videos anymore. I missed dancing with my crew Svibz. My muscles broke down and my legs felt weak. My doctors told me I should do sports, if I felt like being active. But most of the time dancing made me light-headed and dizzy. On top of that I was still struggeling with breathing. That’s they way it went the whole summer.

At some point dancing felt like an annoying duty, to be honest. The fact that I constantly had to find someone who can sub my class or had to go myself if I couldn’t find somebody (even when I felt not good at all), was so stressful! But I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

My last chemo treatment was three months ago. The legs are getting stronger again and I don’t feel dizzy so easily. I’m teaching almost every day. Because of the chemotherapy and radiation I have this crazy tiredness, called fatigue. But I can fight it with sports and movment. So dancing is waking me up. I’m still not able to breath normally and I have a very bad condition, but it feels so good to dance again. Being on stage with my friends from Svibz a couple weeks ago gave me so much motivation. Dancing is fun again. I’m listening to music again. Non stop. And sometimes I’m back with dancing happy around the house.

Although couldn’t really teach classes like I used and I had to cancel some events, dance gave me so much support. Not even dancing itself, but the people. Many of you did help me so much, even if you don’t even know.

When I did post about my cancer on Instagram and Facebook, I received uncountable messages from all over the world. Not only during the first days, but till this day there are so many People that ask every week, sometimes every day, how I’m doing. There were times where I thought the dance scene is really facile, but this year I saw a different side. I’m thankful, that I had the pleasure of meeting many great personalities during the last years at all these events that I did work for. To know that there are so many people who have your back, is uplifting, gives you strength and positive thoughts.

20180602_210120A few days after my post I went to Funkin Stylez and I could tell that everybody was surprised, but also super happy to see me with my camera. The whole weekend in Bochum gave me life and love. I’m grateful that Timo supported me. I wasn’t ready to do this alone. And I got so much respect and appreciation for Takao. He trusted me when I said „I can do this!“. Not only with Funkin Stylez, but all the other events. I was able to be part of them, like every year. It was beautiful to have this normality.

This trust is something that, unfortunately, I did not get everywhere. And again, I did realize how much more tolerant the dancing world is, compared to some other people. I had to listen to so many ridiculous opinios about working with cancer. It would tale days to tell all these stories. But when dancers saw me with my camera, I saw only good reactions.

Every event I visited, I went home and my heart was full. I received so much support and strength, that I felt strong and awake. Unbelievable how many of you constantly thought of me and still do. And to see all these amazingly talented dancers really had me motivated to get healthy and fit as soon as possible.

My students and the whole team from Tanzschule Happy Dance showed me so much trust and sympathy. Nobody evrt complained about all the times when I was missing and send someone else to teach the classes. Everybody was happy when I came and send me love when I didn’t feel healthy enough to teach. On top of this I was always able to dance with my bald head, without ever getting a weird glance hahaha. I don’t even need to tell you how thankful I am for my friends who constantly subbed my classes. They really kept things ticking over.

This year I realized, how much the dance scene and the people I did meet there, actually mean to me. Because of this whole situation I connected with so many people, made new friendships and was able to get to know some people better. To be honest, I would have never thought to get this kind of positive feedback from the scene. It was the first time I actually saw some kind of community. People who care and think of each other. And support even through the hardships. I’m so thankful for everyone that took their time, still worked with me or got creative during shootings.

Photo: Mona Buschhaus

If I look through my harddrive, this year looks like a normal, healthy year. Many great shootings and good memories. Unfortunately there are some jobs missing, which I had to cancel cause I wasn’t allowed to travel. But I’m proud of all the amazing pictures I was able to create despite the huge rocks life had thrown on my path.

Today I had my PET CT. Within the next days I will know if I bitchslapped this fucking cancer enough times or if I have to continue fighting. Cross your fingers and send all your positive energy out to the universe!

Until then, keep on dancing and enjoy life.

Peace & #fuckcancer,