Annemiek Sterk - van Esterik

Four years ago my family and friends were struck with the illness known as cancer. My sister underwent treatment at the VU and Netherlands Cancer Institute in 2014 for endocrine cancer and she is still being seen for screenings at the NKI. She is now doing well.

My brother was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer in that same year. He visited several (specialized) hospitals, including the NKI. Unfortunately, he was no longer eligible for treatment, and he died that same year. In 2015 a friend of mine was diagnosed with colon cancer, and she received all the care she needed at the NKI. The NKI delivered excellent palliative and personal guidance, with an eye for the patient's loved ones. I was impressed with the communication between the patient and the treatment team. That was further confirmed when a different friend was diagnosed with breast cancer after a second opinion at the NKI in 2016. She was eligible to participate in a trial and was declared clean after a year of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation treatment.

During these hard years, I regularly visited the Netherlands Cancer Institute. I observed how much careful communication between physicians and patients can mean to people. As it turned out, patients play a very central role in their own treatment plan. Even if there is no chance of recovery, the communication and care from the KNI is provided with commitment and motivation. That eases suffering and acceptance. As a loved one, I felt surrounded with care. The NKI ended up being very meaningful in my life. That's why I want to return the favor as a member of the patient council.

With my background as a communications advisor and coach, I fight for a personal approach and treatment for the patients and their loved ones, which is essential during treatment and potential recovery.