Meet Sabine: Courage Award winner and cancer survivor.
Senior Director of Sales for Stryker’s Head and Neck division in Europe, mother of two and cancer survivor, Sabine’s story is inspiring and a reminder to be thankful for what we have. Join us as we sit down with her to hear more about her experiences.
Can you tell me a little about your journey?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2019 and that turned my world upside down. It was a shock, and I had no idea how to cope. I began reading everything I could get my hands on, if just to try and regain some sense of control—but no one prepares you for what is to come. I began my treatment shortly after my diagnosis and it took a toll on me both physically and mentally. Thankfully I had and still have a strong support system. My daughters supported me at home and my Stryker family stepped up and encouraged me to focus on healing. So, I did—I took time off from work, poured all my energy into getting better and thankfully I’ve been in remission since November 2019.
You’ve healed physically, how did you heal mentally and emotionally?
I spoke to a psycho oncologist, and it was one of the most helpful things I did. She helped me work through the whole experience and thought me how to cope with it to the best of my ability. One of the things I learned that I still do today is follow these three mantras:
· The only thing you can control is your mindset.
· If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
· Fear is an illusion.
How was the transition back to work at Stryker?
It was seamless. My manager and team were so supportive, and I eased my way back in by working fewer days at first until I was ready for a five-day week. I surprised everyone at a team meeting on my first day back and it was emotional to say the least – laughter and tears all around. I’m so proud of my team and how everyone was there for me, it’s really strengthened our friendships and bonds.
Interestingly enough, I posted a picture of myself on social media on my first day back and a colleague in the U.S. saw it and reached out. That was the start of a beautiful friendship – Elizabeth and I shared our experiences and realized that while Stryker had been very supportive of us both, there was something that we could do to pay it forward. Joining forces with another colleague, Muradija Alibasic who unfortunately is no longer with us, we began to map out the beginnings of a breast cancer support community.
Our mission is to support employees and caregivers as they go through the cancer journey and we are thankful to be able to help others. We do virtual coffee chats, we celebrate successes and support at every level.
Is there anything else that you would like to share?
I’ve learned a lot in a relatively short time and am grateful at the chance to turn my crisis into an opportunity. I’m also now a firm believer in self-care and I urge you to take time to look after yourself and your family. My self-care plan for this year includes daily physical exercise and meditating to center myself, I encourage everyone to think about how you are investing in you.