After the blood cancer diagnosis “You are more than the cancer cells”: regain courage and strengthen your psyche

A blood cancer diagnosis can pull the rug out from under people’s feet. It is particularly important to strengthen the psyche and not to give up on dreams.

Every 12 minutes someone in Germany is diagnosed with leukemia, also known as blood cancer. Worldwide even every 27 seconds! In Germany, around 2.7 percent of all cancer patients develop leukemia, which is more than 13,700 people per year according to the German Cancer Society. Usually the only way of healing: a stem cell donation. With the well-known slogan “Sticks in, be a donor”, the DKMS (German Bone Marrow Donor File) is promoting registration as a potential donor. Today, World Blood Cancer Day (May 28), attention must be drawn to this topic, because such a bone marrow donation also saved Claudia Poguntke’s life.

App called “Mika” helps those affected to actively participate in the treatment

In April 2009, the then 37-year-old received the shocking diagnosis: acute myeloid leukemia. Thanks to her donor and years of therapy, Claudia Poguntke made it – and is now helping other sufferers. She works at Mika, a free and medically-validated cancer companion app that supports patients with important treatment information and mental exercises. With the two areas of coaching and monitoring, those affected can learn to strengthen their psyche and document how their side effects develop, for example. This allows doctors to recognize and treat any warning signals earlier.

On World Blood Cancer Day: the #oneday campaign is intended to encourage those affected

As part of the app, the “One Day” campaign will be launched for this year’s World Blood Cancer Day on May 28, for which Claudia Poguntke will act as a testimonial. This is a website where families, friends and relatives of cancer patients can submit messages of courage under the motto “One day” to give those affected new strength in the fight against the insidious disease. The site wants to encourage and motivate people to look ahead and think about what patients will do again “one day”.

You can see the campaign video above.

Claudia Poguntke: “It is extremely important to strengthen the psyche”

In an interview with, Claudia Poguntke spoke about her cancer, the Mika app and, above all, the importance of strengthening the psyche during cancer treatment.

Claudia Poguntke

Claudia Poguntke
© Maren Schulz Photography

Claudia Poguntke after cancer diagnosis: “Family and friends gave me confidence in myself” Ms. Poguntke, what were your thoughts when you were diagnosed with leukemia?

Claudia Poguntke: I couldn’t think at all. It was sheer terror and I had a kind of panic attack. It was like getting hit in the head with a board. I was just like, ‘Oh god, leukemia. This is death.’

Were you taken care of by the medical staff after the diagnosis?

I believe that the young doctor (who had communicated the diagnosis, note d. editor) for her part was not well trained to deliver such a message empathetically. There are very few doctors, there is definitely still a great need for training. My mental and emotional state was not taken care of at all. It just said ‘In five minutes you will be transferred to the University Hospital Ulm’. It was so explosive that I panicked even more. I didn’t even know what was in store for me. At that moment, all I could think of was bald patients sitting around, pale as a sheet, waiting for death.

How did you deal with difficult moments? Did you have support from family and friends?

One often comes to the point of discouragement and despair. You have a lot of moments of anxiety and panic attacks, it’s completely normal. That’s where human relationships came into play. My family and friends have given me so much confidence in myself. External support is extremely important. Many sufferers ask themselves ‘Why me?’. But one should not quarrel, but rather accept it and look ahead. A lot of things may not work (anymore), but you should concentrate on what is still possible. And also have the courage to say, ‘I trust myself.’

Many of those affected feel helpless after the diagnosis and do not sufficiently understand the medical terminology and / or their therapy plan. Did you feel the same?

This is exactly the reason why I have been working at Mika for over three years. The app closes a supply gap and is a validated, all-round helpful program for people who are in such a situation. I felt the same way. I understood very little and was in a state of shock – and so were my family. The therapy plan was explained to me very well, but the layman does not understand medical language. Mika translates the technical language from the studies and oncology into easily understandable information. Everyone has a smartphone and can access this verified information very easily via the app.

The “Mika” app is intended to better inform cancer patients about their therapy

How important is it that those affected are actively involved in their therapy or can they actively influence it at all?

Yes, of course you can. The treatment plans are made by the treatment team, but as a patient I need to know what that means. How does the therapy process work and what side effects are possible, for example? If I’m educated on the fact that chemotherapy can cause nausea and vomiting, I’ll probably be able to cope with these side effects better. If I don’t know about it and vomit for the fifth time, I might stop taking the medication again. It has been proven in studies: People who understand their therapy and who understand that the unpleasant side is also an important step on the way to healing stick with their therapy more often. This means that the chances of recovery are of course much higher. People who are mentally unfocused, who give up and despair, are much more prone to other side effects. It is therefore extremely important to strengthen the psyche. There will be setbacks and you need a good mental cushion. You have to know in such situations, ‘What can I do? How do I deal with it?’ And that’s exactly what’s in the Mika app. It was developed together with psycho-oncologists to convey to patients exactly that: ‘Let the doctor fight the disease, but you are more than the cancer cells and you can take care of yourself and your well-being.’

What advice would you give to family members on how to deal with those affected?

Honesty and openness is best. Make it clear that you are there and signal that you stand behind the patient and believe in him. No empty phrases, rather encouraging people to believe in themselves. I preferred that people told me about their lives – just a bit of normality.

How could you encourage even more people to register with the DKMS?

Maybe by explaining the process of stem cell extraction in more detail. This has no consequences afterwards, nothing happens to the donor. But the profit is so sensationally bigger. If my stem cell donor had not given her donation, I would not be alive today. Two matching donors emerged from the collection campaign for me, who were able to save the lives of two sick children with their stem cell donation.

What is your most important message to those affected?

Don’t give up, even when very dark times come. Believe in yourself, trust yourself and have the courage to imagine what will one day be possible again.

Related Posts

Zendaya their healthy avocado pasta is perfect for lunchtime

The US actress Zendaya is not only a big star who shines in series like “Euphoria” and blockbusters like “Spider-Man”. She also loves being down to earth in…

Smoking cessation help Are e-cigarettes an option?

Vascular surgeon Prof. Martin Storck from the Karlsruhe Clinic, together with a group of experts from the fields of pulmonary medicine, cancer prevention and addiction medicine, calls for…

A fit start to the day Nine morning routines will definitely wake you up

Do you find it hard to get going in the morning? We have simple routines that are sure to get your day off to a better start. The…

Dangerous Consequences This is what happens when you hold back a bowel movement

Actually, you really need to go to the toilet right now – that often happens in the most stupid situations. Then you might be holding back a bowel…

Myth busted This really happens when we swallow gum

Mama always said: “Don’t swallow the chewing gum! It’ll stick up in your stomach.” And it should take a whole seven years until the sticky rubber spider web…

Still fit at 81 Martha Stewart relies on three simple fitness tips

Martha Stewart is not only a famous TV presenter but also a lifestyle icon. Even at 81, she looks fit and recently shone on the cover of Sports…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *