CARO KOTKE, DE
DIAGNOSED AT 25
Tell us who you are, your age and a little bit about your story?
Hello, my name is Caro, I am now 31 years old and I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29. Of course it was completely unexpected and a total shock and it completely threw me off track. But it has changed relatively much in life and the view on many things has changed, so that actually everything has turned. First to the negative, but meanwhile to the positive.
Tell us about the moment you first noticed a symptom of breast cancer?
I had just started my job from scratch, had just been at my new job for a week and was on the road and then in the evening in bed I noticed something pulling in my chest. Something's weird. I then felt a small lump in my breast and actively noticed it and showed it to my boyfriend who also said "yes, there is something strange, there is something different". But I did not take it for granted. It really took a month to realize, okay, there's still something there. Or else my boyfriend realized it in the end and asked "Tell me, is the lump still there?" and I said "Yes, it is. Oh, it will go away" and he just said to me "Let's check it out, please go to the gynaecologist" and yes... Thank God I listened to my boyfriend. Then we went to the gynaecologist and the diagnosis came pretty quickly.
Did you ever think that breast cancer could affect you? If not, why?
So some how I knew that cancer would eventually affect me, because in my family there were many cases of cancer. But all of them in older age. So most of the people were easily over 50. And accordingly, it was clear to me that at 29, the topic was not yet my concern. So it's not relevant at all. Therefore for me it was a shock to sit there with such a diagnosis at the end of 20... and yes... it also concerns us with our early 20s, mid 20s or even late 20s and not only in our 50s.
How did the experience/treatment affect your relationship with yourself?
It changed a lot of me... a diagnosis like that changes everything. You pay more attention to your body. Think about things a lot more. Think about your life so far and say, okay, what have I achieved in my life and what have I done so far? And then you realise, hey, my life has been nothing but work. What have I done that's great? Then you come out of a diagnosis like that, when you really have time to think about it in peace and quiet and deal with your body in a different way. So you perceive the world afterwards with completely different eyes, live much more consciously... In the meantime I make completely different decisions, have become much more open and have got an incredibly good body feeling. And I just didn't have that before. I really developed it through this. Especially the relationship with my boyfriend has become much closer. It has welded us so much together and I'm really glad that he got through the whole story with me. We both came out even stronger in this relationship and that is of course a very, very nice feeling.
What’s the one thing you would say to young women out there who are not checking their breasts regularly?
I would like to advise the women out there to take care of their body and to develop a certain awareness of their body and so maybe really integrate it into their morning routine to scan themselves regularly and just check if everything is okay with their body. Normally we are much too much under stress and don't really notice our body at all. It's so important. And it is very important to have your breasts checked once a month and it is also important to go to the gynaecologist regularly and have it controlled. Many women forget exactly this and it is simply incredibly important and we should bear this in mind.