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January 3, 2020

Our ‘why’: 28 years and diagnosed with cancer, leukemia

On the 1st of July 2015 I was diagnosed with leukemia. For those of you who are not familiar with this term, it’s blood cancer. 

Now, fast-forward a couple of years later, I am in remission and have managed to turn my experience with cancer into a social media app that aims to radically improve the mental health of everyone affected by cancer. A social media app for everyone affected by cancer, called War On Cancer. I am finally ready to look back at my journey with cancer while welcoming you to share your story with me  -  because I promise that if you’re going through cancer you’re never alone  –  you will always have me and my team supporting you. This is my story of how it all started, which I will continuously be sharing here.

When I was diagnosed
I had been feeling under the weather for 1–2 months; my body felt exhausted and my mood low. At the time I simply put it down to inflated levels of stress and hard work; I had not taken a single day of holiday since I left investment banking and ventured into the world of acting, 1.5 years prior to this. My career had skyrocketed, but I knew working at the pace I had been would have its price.
I had planned to return to Sweden for a few weeks to visit family and friends during the summer of 2015 so I ignored my body’s complaints. In the days leading up to my departure to Sweden (26–29th June 2015), my physical condition drastically deteriorated; I was sweating uncontrollably and my thigh lymph nodes were aching. Suspecting a serious flu, as well as coming down from a few pre-summer holiday parties, I attributed my pain to my body punishing me.

I set out on my journey to Gatwick airport on Tuesday morning 30th July 2015 - I could barely see straight and I was constantly sweating. I bought 4 liters of water from the airport and shrugged it off. On the plane, I passed out straight away and woke up, groggy and disorientated in Stockholm, feeling slightly better.
I got of the plane and met my parents in central Stockholm, for a pre-arranged dinner. The aching in the lymph nodes had once again returned. During the dinner, my pain crept up into my chest, making it difficult for me to breathe. I knew something was wrong. I knew I had to get myself to the hospital.

Once there, the doctors took some 10 blood tests and put me through X-ray. Not long after, they were able to identify an anomaly in my chest. They sent me to the hematology department and started drilling in my bone marrow (I can’t even describe how much that hurt!) in order to get a sample for analysis.
The day after I was informed that I have leukemia. I was only 28 years old. My world fell apart.

I felt so utterly sad and confused. I felt like it’s unfair that I should have to go through all of this, after fighting so hard to reach this stage in life and be on the cusp of fulfilling my acting dreams. My world really fell apart but I knew I was not going to give up; I knew I needed to push myself through it in order to be able to live the life that I loved so much! 
And I managed, I pushed through more than 900 days of chemotherapy, wrote about my journey from day 1 which honestly helped me fight my own cancer. Writing really does have healing powers and I truly believe it helps us deal with the shock and trauma. Writing about it allowed me to come in contact with others that could relate and made me feel less lonely in my experience. Writing and sharing my story openly made dealing with cancer less scary.

War On Cancer - a social media app for everyone affected by cancer
Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I and my childhood friend Sebastian Hermelin, realised that we wanted to give that same experience to everyone affected by cancer. We wanted to give everyone diagnosed with cancer a safe and secure place where they could come in contact with others with similar diagnoses, ages, and interests. A place where we just can talk about it, life that is. So we built a social media app  -  War On Cancer. A place where we fight cancer together. A place to share your story, explore and learn from others and find others that can relate to what you may be going through. A place where we take care of our emotional health and improve mental health by sharing what we’re going through. 

For anyone who is interested - feel free to download the app and connect with me @fabianbolin I am still learning about living life, now after cancer, while I’m in remission and I would love to learn and hear how others are doing it. 

Also, may I ask you to like and share this post amongst your friends, as I am (as mentioned) very keen on getting in touch with other people around the world that have gone or are going through cancer. I’ve always believed that a united group is stronger than standing alone. I am always reachable at fabian.bolin@waroncancer.com or on Instagram.

Lots of love to you all!

// Fabian

From a cancer diagnosis to creating a social app, a safe space, for everyone affected by cancer.
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