hoffen (to hope)

The lobby of the Zentralklinik.

The lobby of the Zentralklinik.

When my parents and I stepped foot inside the Zentralklinik in Bad Berka, Germany last week, my first thought was: this looks like a place where people go to get cured. One of those miraculous places in documentaries where people go with impossible medical conditions and they come out without them.

We were fresh from a quiet, wet morning in Weimar (where apparently nothing is open on Sundays), a fast taxi tide in a fast German car through the misty, green Germany countryside. Coming from fire-prone, dry, brown Southern California, it seemed like a dream. We arrived at these beautiful old white buildings nestled along the edge of a lush forest in this charming German town and “wow” was all I could think. “Despite the stress of getting here, I am really glad i’m here.” I think my parents were thinking the same thing.

Of course, the Zentralklinik is just a normal hospital to Germans, where they get routine medical treatments. But to me, there was nothing normal or routine about this place or the medical treatment I was seeking there—and traveling about 5,000 miles to do it. They don’t do this at home. This place is special.

As we went through the check-in process and it came time for my parents to leave me at the frosted door of the ward where I could spend the next week, I must admit I was terrified. To my right side were my parents who had already successfully navigated my swollen ankles through 13 hours of travel and one long night. To my left was a nurse who was solemnly shaking her head, no, my parents weren’t welcome there. She didn’t appear to speak any English. She had a disposable cup in one hand she was about to ask me to pee into.

But once I got inside, not without a few tears, I met a nice nurse who happened to be just my age and speak better English. I got more relaxed. My room didn’t feel like an American hospital room at all. It had bright yellow walls, a yellow striped comforter, a puffy pillow, a closet for my clothes, a breakfast nook. And best of all, two big bright windows with a view of a flowered rooftop garden, and the green green green forest that borders the town and almost swallows up the hospital. Of course, to keep up that green it rained every day we were there. But it was also quiet. So quiet. No machines beeping, no people moaning or even talking, no loud TVs in the next room or jubilant visitors. I wondered if I was the only patient. Middle-of-the-forest, middle-of-nowhere-Germany, healing silence.

By the time I met my parents for dinner that night they commented that I looked noticeably more relaxed. I was. I’d like to say I stayed that way the whole week; but the jet lag, the language differences, the countless tests and procedures, the fasting, the discomfort for a lot of the week) the meeting with the doctor, not to mention the traveling… it all took a lot out of me. I spent a lot of time decidedly not relaxed, emotional, in pain, feeling broken, and definitely not feeling particularly hopeful. You can look forward to reading those posts–but for now, i’m focusing on positive first impressions.

I’m home now. I’m trying to continue to be relaxed. I can’t say i’m succeeding. I have (temporarily) lost a lot of my energy. I am (temporarily, hopefully) extremely uncomfortable. I (temporarily, hopefully) need a lot of help in everyday living. In short, I am suddenly now and for the past few months getting slammed with all the hard stuff of cancer that I was ignorant to for the past two years and eight months.

But I made it home from Germany, at least, with a little more hope than I left with. I got the treatment that I went to Germany to get–the seemingly miracle treatment. The radioactive isotopes are working their magic within me as we speak. I know that i’m not healed now, after just one treatment. But one day, maybe.

I’m due back in August.

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12 Responses to hoffen (to hope)

  1. Cathy says:

    I opened your website and there you were with new thoughts and words, and I knew in that instant that your spirit and your determination were surfacing, and I felt your hope. Reading the account of the journey to Germany I could feel your trepidation and I wanted to wrap you in the biggest hug as I am sure your Mom and Dad wanted to do..it is a parent thing. And I saw you as a spiritual warrior giving it your all so you can live the life you so long to get on with …so my prayers are that the radioactive isotopes are kicking ass as we speak…and you are getting closer to feeling better. Know that you are held tightly in loving thoughts and prayers all the time. Even when you don’t know it..they and we are there…hugs…

  2. thandilocks says:

    Your description makes it come alive. Oh, I hope..HOPE..that our hopes will all come to fruition. August is not too far away, I’m so glad that the place itself gave you a sense of calm-short though the calm seems to have lasted. Peace…

  3. Paul Glowiak says:

    I’m praying the treatment works, Lindsey. I have been reading you for a while and you are an inspiration. Good luck and better days!

  4. Matt says:

    I love the way you described the lushness of the German forest & the cheerfulness of your room. I could picture it very easily.

    It was a gutsy call to travel to Germany for alternative treatment.

    I know that this is a very difficult time.

    You are doing everything that you can to manage this disease.

    So take a few moments to just breathe!

    Welcome home…

  5. Sharon Larsen says:

    I’m so glad to hear you made it home and that the treatment went well. I thought a lot about you the past few weeks. I hope this treatment starts kicking those tumors butts! Keep us posted. Hope to hear more from you when you are up to it!

  6. KELLY says:


  7. caseyfa1064 says:

    Best wishes and lots of love going to you Lindsey!

  8. Mike says:

    Thanks for the update! I’m thinking of you and praying for you…

  9. Kelly Bruhn says:

    we are thinking of you so much!

  10. Ash says:

    Praising Jesus for your safe return! How wonderful it is to “hear your voice!” Welcome home! 🙂

  11. Glad to hear you made it back home safely. I, too, love your description of Germany and the haven of hope that it is for you. I will pray that it works. That those isotopes are working little miracles right now!

  12. Ann Eickhof says:

    I’ve been to Germany 3 times and have had 4 treatments. Back for round 5 in September. You should contact me. I did one clinical trial in Houston. Maybe I can help you on what to expect. I am stable disease and in remission. 949-842-6833 if you want to talk. You don’t have to stay in the hospital except for the 48 hour lock down. You could have stayed with your parents. There is lots that I could share being a veteran of the process. Look forward to talking with you. Email is aceickhif@gmail.com

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