Meet Dorenda 

January 27, 2023

Dorenda is an energetic young woman. In 2006, she underwent surgery for thyroid cancer at the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam. At that time she was a student, now she is a volunteer at FC Twente, a Dutch football club. Besides her voluntary work, she is a patient educator and lectures medical staff.

What was the initial period after surgery like?

Mentally, it was a challenging time. I felt ’damaged’ with the cannula and was worried about how people would react. Directly after the procedure, I was still in pain and unable to speak, which was very intense. Looking back, after some time, I believe it has brought many good things: I breathe better, get more oxygen, have more energy and my voice has improved.

What was the biggest challenge postsurgery?

I’m a very ’down-to-earth’ person, and I decided to go and see what happens. On top of that, I have a good sense of humor and self-mockery. I decided to be the first person in the room to comment on my situation and address it with humor. Nevertheless, I also experienced moments where I was on my own and struck by the situation. The mental acceptation of what happened was a challenge. All in all, it’s a roller coaster with ups and downs.

What advice would you give to someone newly tracheostomized?

It’s okay to be shocked by what happened, but do realise that good things will come. You’ll be able to breathe better, have more energy and be able to get more out of life. I use myself as an example: I couldn’t do much anymore, but became much more energetic after my recovery – I can climb the stairs without feeling out of breath and can go for bike rides.

If someone is hesitant to use HMEs, what would you say?

I’m the best and worst example for such people. I refused to use an HME for a long period. I thought it was too visible and couldn’t believe it would be better to use one.

But during the COVID pandemic, my Atos Medical Product Specialist convinced me to protect myself better by using an HME. Now I have experienced the difference myself. When I don’t use my HME I cough more and the air feels dry and irritates my lungs. This has convinced me that HMEs have a good effect and I feel confident in advising people who are hesitant to give it a try so they can experience the benefits themselves.

How does Atos Medical support you?

I feel very supported by Atos Medical. When you are a patient for such a long time, it is generally expected that you take the initiative yourself to arrange things such as ordering products. But that’s not the way I function because I don’t want to have to think about everything myself. The regular contact with people from Atos Medical, the genuine interest and support in my situation with ordering and maintaining products works very well for me.

How would you describe your life now?

I’m happy I had the procedure because it changed my life. At that time, I was still a student. I finished my education, but was not declared fit to work. That did not stop me from taking up voluntary work at FC Twente, which is very rewarding, and helping my parents in their tattoo-shop. I can be myself and don’t feel the canula holds me back in achieving what I want to achieve.