AIESEC Alumni who IMAGINEd: Stig T. Grassmay

Yesterday, I went to the AIESEC Alumni meeting in Berlin. My former MC team member Achim pointed me to the story of the former president of AIESEC in Germany who was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 34 in July 2007. This is Stig’s story:

My name is Stig T. Graßmay. I am 34 years old and live in Cologne, Germany, together with my fiancee Franca.

In my “normal” life I work as Senior Manager for the Global Technology division of Vodafone in Düsseldorf. In my limited spare time I try to do some running and road cycling.

I have started this blog to document my fight against my bronchial adenocarcinoma (lung cancer) that I call Walburga, to share my experience with others who are affected and to get your support.


The picture above was taken a couple of weeks before the tumor was found; the blog will also show the changes to my looks.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I have had a dry cough for four weeks now and over the weekend dyspnoea has been added to it. I have been suffering from asthma since I have been five years old, so I go to to see my pneumologist who has been looking after me for the last three years. I expect him to diagnose a bronchitis, but he suspects something else and sends me to the radiologist downstairs.

The X-ray shows a shadow on one of my right pulmonary lobes; the radiologist answers this with a dry “You suffer from pneumonia.” Damian Franzen, MD, the pneumologist, assures me that antibiotics should solve the problem within the next two weeks, but I will have to rest a lot and will not be able to work during this period. He does a haemogram and a Tine test to find out the root cause. I will have to return on Wednesday to find out the results.

After a couple of medical tests…

Monday, July 2, 2007
Ms Koch, MD, who did the bronchoscopy last Thursday is a very nice person. Like very many doctors, however, breaking bad news to patients carefully is not one of her strengths: She tells me that she has got the preliminary findings from the histological and cytological tests and that I have got a bronchial carcinoma. Whoaa-ooh-oh, what??? In the background I hear her saying something about the type of the carcinoma still having to be determined, and offering advice if I need some after having talked to Franzen, MD, again, while I am not sure whether everything is racing in my head or whether it is completely empty. She expresses her regrets not to have better news for me. I thank her and say good-bye.
We don’t speak much this evening; Franca (I believe) because she is still hoping that it is a benign tumor, and I because I don’t know what to say. I don’t feel like eating and another Google search does not quite improve my mood: Wikipedia quotes the five year survival rate with 14%. Then again, this is a statistic only, it’s only true for the basic population and only in hindsight. It does not tell anything about my individual chance of survival that I determine to be 100%.
After some more sophisticated searches I have found a study that is more relevant to my specific case. It quotes the five-year survival rate for patients with non-small cell lung cancer with 26%. My argument from above, however, remains valid: This is a retrospective statistic, my chances are 100% until proven otherwise.

Stig is writing this blog about cancer „to keep my family and friends updated how my fight against the tumor progresses I have created this blog. Maybe it can also give some hope to my fellow combatants.“

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