Sport against cancer: so jan can forget

At the age of eight, Jan, a sports enthusiast, is diagnosed with bone cancer. ActiveOncoKids" support him in his fight against the disease. The project financed by German Cancer Aid enables sports against cancer in everyday hospital life.

Sports against cancer help in everyday hospital life

With a mischievous grin on his face, Jan grabs a small rubber ball with colored strings, squints his left eye, aims at his sports therapist and throws the ball with momentum in her direction. "Hit," he exclaims joyfully and laughs. Jan’s mother, Simone Hilscher, shakes her head at her son’s cheeky action, but also has to smile. She is happy to see Jan so cheerful. At moments like this, he is a normal nine-year-old who is exuberant and has fun playing sports. Just as he used to do when he was not pushed through hospital corridors in a wheelchair and had to be constantly careful not to tangle the cables of his infusion stand.

A sporty child

It was less than a year ago that the then eight-year-old was doing sports at least four times a week, kicking with his soccer team, doing athletics and training for the golden swimming badge, which is actually only intended for older people.

Jan also enjoys playing with his friends at school. Such is the case on an autumn day in October 2020, when the elementary school student gets distracted while playing catch and runs into a bollard with force. "It’s lucky this happened," Jan will say later.

Jan does sports against cancer

"We were shocked and stunned. Jan was fit as a fiddle and athletic after all."

Lucky coincidence

At first everything looks like a painful but harmless school accident. After the collision, Jan drives to the nearest hospital in Viersen with his mother. Numerous examinations follow there. There are abnormalities on the left femur, say the doctors – but they can’t make a definite diagnosis. Cancer is ruled out at first. A biopsy is the first step on the 27. January 2021 finally sad certainty: it is an early stage of osteosarcoma – bone cancer. "We were shocked and stunned. Jan was fit as a fiddle and athletic," recalls his father Ingo at the moment of diagnosis. "From then on, you were in the machinery."

Note: Active at 30 locations in Germany

Cancer therapy is usually very exhausting and debilitating for children. As a result, her body loses muscle strength, endurance and bone density. To prevent this from happening, German Cancer Aid has been supporting the ActiveOncoKids network since 2012. Experts from the fields of sports science, physiotherapy, psychology and pediatric oncology offer children with cancer an individualized, playful range of exercise during and after therapy, thus helping them to find their way back into recreational, club and school sports or to discover new types of sports. Exercise and sports help to cope better with cancer because they reduce fatigue, improve mood and thus increase well-being and quality of life. They may also be able to counteract therapy- and inactivity-related late effects. In addition to those affected, the nationwide network also advises and supports clinics and treatment providers in setting up or expanding movement therapy on site. German Cancer Aid supports the work of the network’s currently 30 locations with 250.000 euros.

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