Life and life's work of Kirstin Diehl: When we think of Kirstin

by Gerd and Gerda Diehl

When we think of Kirstin, we always remember the day when the doctors gave us the devastating diagnosis that Kirstin had cancer. Kirstin was given only a short time to live. Despair and hopelessness caused a certain emptiness that left us completely unable to act. It took us several hours to realize what a profound change this would bring for all of us. Our joyful daughter was terminally ill from one minute to the next and for the first time we could do nothing to help her. Until now, the illnesses were predictable, at least somewhat assessable. Cough syrup, calf compresses, the security, the comfort, the love of the parents were enough to bring things back to normal. Everything was now so different, so incomprehensible, and everyone around us was apparently just as helpless and affected as we were. We remember the depressing situation when we looked at each other speechless with tears in our eyes for the second time - we knew that there was still an almost unsolvable task waiting for us. We had to explain to Kirstin how things were.

When we think of Kirstin, we also remember the time when hope and fear alternated. It was the time when we found a doctor in Prof. Dr. Pichlmeyr at the Hannover Medical School, who performed the liver transplantation in an almost unbelievable 12-hour operation and removed the already affected organs such as stomach, spleen and lymphatic organs. Kirstin felt better after a long period of recovery. With a stomach tube and soft knees, she weighed just 36 kilos, she graduated from high school and planned to study German language and literature in the summer semester of 1994. She has been promised a place at university and her courage to face life remains unbroken.

When we think of Kirstin, we remember the time when fate thwarted all her plans, because in January 1994 the doctors diagnosed metastases in her lungs and rectum. Hanover, Essen, Heidelberg, none of the major cancer centers can help. There is little hope, because a possibly effective therapy could lead to liver rejection. Kirstin learns about the Tumor Biology Clinic in Freiburg and has herself treated there. What is special about this clinic is that here the focus is on the responsible patient. They don't just see the disease in the person, but the person in the disease, with whom a treatment concept is developed together. Kirstin does not give up and she decides to support the research projects of the Tumor Biology Clinic. She always says she doesn't feel like dealing with herself and her fate non-stop. "I want to do something productive. If I just sit around idly, I'm guaranteed to feel much worse. From my activity I draw new strength."

When we think of Kirstin, we remember all too fondly the years 1993 and 1994, when Kirstin couldn't resist spending wonderful vacation weeks in her beloved Caorle on the Adriatic Sea. None of the guests at Hotel Alexander had the slightest idea how ill Kirstin was at that time. Her positive charisma and her irrepressible courage to face life made this terrible illness seem almost a minor matter. She loved Italy, the beach, the sea, the warmth and the way of life. Until the end, she always had the wish to sit on the beach in Caorle once again, even if only for a short time.

When we think of Kirstin, we remember her commitment to making it clear to the public that we can all do something together against cancer. We can, for example, support studies from which we may all benefit one day. She stands out for her special strength. She doesn't think of herself first and foremost, but of all the others who are waiting for help. She still weighed 30 kilos when she appealed for donations on the program "Schreinemakers live" and was voted "Woman of the Year 95" by the editors.

When we think of Kirstin, we remember Kirstin's wish to start a support association that supports cancer medicine. Her association Kirstins Weg is founded in July 1996. In October 1996 she is awarded the Federal Cross of Merit. She weighs only 23 kilos when she once again appealed for donations for research on RTL at Christmas 1996. "Don't stand around waiting for something to happen. Get on the road. We are all responsible for cancer medicine making the decisive breakthrough. We patients have so much to say to medicine. Listen to us, stand together, spread the word. No one can do it alone. The researchers, the doctors and the politicians can't do it alone. But together, we're getting closer than ever."

When we think of Kirstin, we remember the last hours together with her before her death. Her courage remains unbroken even now. She gives us a certain hope through her strength. She is not struggling with her fate even now. Early in the morning on February 12, 1997, Kirstin dies. She falls asleep peacefully and leaves us her legacy: "Look around you, so many are there, waiting for help and ready to help you. You only truly live when you give of yourself to help others. Please pick up where I left off. I consciously say goodbye because nothing has been lost or become meaningless."

When we think of Kirstin, we see our daughter living on in our memories.