• Germany's news in English
 

'Young cancer sufferers have specific problems'

Published: 27 May 2013 07:22 GMT+02:00

Twenty six-year-old Kaup was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in 2010. Unable to continue living a shared flat, known as a Wohngemeinschaft or WG in German, with other students, she had to leave university and move in with her parents.

“There comes a point when people can do no more to help,” said Kaup. This is especially hard for a parent living with an ill, grown-up child.

“Mine aged a lot that year from stress,” she told The Local, explaining that it was this time at home that gave her the idea for a “Chemo WG” - a shared flat in which young cancer sufferers can group together somewhere nicer than a hospital.

Living in a flat where professionals come in and clean, and food can be delivered could be, Kaub thinks, the solution for many who accept that they need help but want to maintain independence. “Everyone needs to shut the door and not come out for a day, but at home with your family that often isn't possible – at least it wasn't for me.”

After surgery to replace bone in her right thigh with titanium and months of chemotherapy, Kaub is officially tumour free, and has thrown herself into drumming up enough support – and money – to make the Chemo WG a reality.

Too old to be back at home?

Ideally the flat would be on the ground floor – Kaub learnt the hard way that climbing the stairs to a flat on the fourth floor is near-impossible after a round of chemo – and be for just three to four people aged between 20 and 35. More than that would be too stressful, and end up too much like a hospital.

There would be a spare bedroom for when a housemate needs a little support, and two bathrooms. “Everything takes longer when you're ill,” she admitted. Having the space to settle in and have your own room is, Kaub thinks, important in reducing stress during treatment.

“Younger cancer sufferers also have very age-specific problems,” she said, adding that almost all the young people she met during her time in hospital had had to move home. “Many said they had no idea where they fit in, they weren't in strong enough relationships to stay with a partner but felt too old to be back at home.”

Kaub asked 25 young patients during her time in and out of hospital, two weeks of every month were spent there for a year, about whether they would be interested in living somewhere like a Chemo WG. “More than half said they would, and almost all said they had had to move back in with their parents after falling ill.”

“Obviously for some people, being at home is the better option though,” said Kaub, a sociology student at university in Darmstadt south of Frankfurt.

But assisted living, no matter how basic, is not cheap, and Kaub has been trying since February to set up a foundation that would collect funding for the flat. So far, getting enough people to make up a directory board was, she said, proving tough.

Privacy and space for independence

“A lot of people think it's a really good idea but when push comes to shove they just don't have time to commit,” Kaub admitted, adding that raising awareness was key in finding people willing to give time to setting up the WG. Rent would be paid for by those living there, and the foundation would figure out how to pay for services like cleaning, food delivery and cooking.

She said she would be approaching the state government to tell them her plan and ask for funding. Although she is “not looking forward to getting tied up in Germany's complicated bureaucratic system.” A good sign was, Kaub added, that the head doctor the Koblenz hospital where she received treatment is very enthusiastic about the idea.

The Chemo WG foundation's job would be to find the flat, fit it out appropriately. “I was thinking about asking Ikea to donate furniture,” said Kaub, and sort out the day-to-day services the housemates might need. “The main advantage would be, unlike a hospital, there would be privacy and space for independence on better days,” she added.

Until things get underway, Kaub will be cycling from one end of Germany to the other – both as a victory gesture about beating a vicious type of cancer, and to raise awareness about the Chemo WG. She will be getting into her three wheeled recliner bike on July 1st in at Lake Constance in the south and cycling 2,000 miles to the Germany's Baltic coast.

“I was in a wheelchair for a long time, and at one point it looked like I would lose my leg,” said Kaub, explaining that the trip would be her reward after a year of pain. Along the way, she will be stopping off at alternative housing associations to get inspiration for her own unique accommodation proposal.

Jessica Ware

jessica.ware@thelocal.com

twitter.com/jesscware

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Greece crisis
Merkel: 'still no basis' for aid to Greece
Angela Merkel arriving in Brussels on Tuesday. Photo: EbS

Merkel: 'still no basis' for aid to Greece

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel offered no new insights into her thinking as she arrived in Brussels for a meeting of eurozone government heads on Tuesday, saying that it was up to Greece to make a move and show willing. READ  

Mafia suspects arrested at Lake Constance
Lke Constance, a 'stronghold' of the mafia. Photo:DPA

Mafia suspects arrested at Lake Constance

Police arrested eight Italian citizens on Tuesday morning at Lake Constance in Baden-Württemberg on suspicion of involvement in the ’Ndrangheta, Calabria’s feared mafia organisation. READ  

Greece crisis
Voters back Schäuble's hard line on Greece
Wolfgang Schäuble in the Bundestag. Photo: DPA

Voters back Schäuble's hard line on Greece

A poll published on Tuesday shows that at the peak of their tough talk towards Greece, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble have been earning even greater confidence from German voters. READ  

'Hackers' give orders to German missile battery
Bundeswehr soldiers operating a Patriot missile launcher. Photo: DPA

'Hackers' give orders to German missile battery

German-owned Patriot missiles stationed in Turkey were briefly taken over by hackers, according to media reports on Tuesday. READ  

Workers dismantle Frankfurt Euro sculpture
A worker on a crane removes stars from the Euro sculpture in central Frankfurt. Photo: DPA

Workers dismantle Frankfurt Euro sculpture

As a possible Greek exit from the eurozone looms ever larger, threatening to change the face of the euro forever, the currency's home city of Frankfurt is giving its famous Euro sculpture a much-needed facelift. READ  

Auschwitz trial
Prosecutors seek 3-1/2 year sentence
Oskar Gröning was an SS guard at Auschwitz. Photo: DPA

Prosecutors seek 3-1/2 year sentence

German prosecutors on Tuesday said they were seeking three and a half years' jail time for a former SS officer known as the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz". READ  

Hot weather to bring tornados and lightning
With this blitz Gerry'll get a taste of his own medicine. Photo: DPA

Hot weather to bring tornados and lightning

After Germans were able to sneak out to restock their wurst and sauerkraut rations during few cool hours on Monday, another heat wave is sweeping across the country on Tuesday, sending people running back to the shade for cover. READ  

July heatwave
Hot dogs lap up liver sausage sundaes
Ice-cream maker Leonardo Caprarese with golden retriever Oscar, enjoying a delicious scoop of Leberwurst ice cream. Photo: DPA

Hot dogs lap up liver sausage sundaes

Hounds languishing in the July heat around Bremen have been treated to a very special snack to cool them down - but it's one that might put humans off their lunch. READ  

Berlin growing twice as fast as expected
Population growth is putting strains on city planning. Photo: DPA

Berlin growing twice as fast as expected

The Berlin senate revealed on Monday that the capital is growing at double the pace that city planners had previously expected. But after decades of stagnation the growth is seen as positive. READ  

Anti-refugee rage grows in Dresden suburbs
Demonstrators outside the Freital refugee home are held back by police on June 26th. Photo: DPA

Anti-refugee rage grows in Dresden suburbs

Freital, the town that became famous last week for irate anti-refugee protestors outside a new home for asylum seekers, saw a fresh confrontation on Monday night as local people gathered for a town hall meeting. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,864
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd