SHARE
COPY LINK
SWEDE OF THE WEEK

CANCER

‘I’m just a guy who got cancer, nothing else’

Journalist and musician Kristian Gidlund passed away on Tuesday after succumbing to a fight against cancer. His life and death touched millions of Swedes via his blog "In this body of mine" and makes the drummer from Dalarna our choice for Swede of the Week.

'I'm just a guy who got cancer, nothing else'

“This is a selfish blog. Created by myself. For myself. If you want to read it, you are free to do so. But this is my way of dealing with this situation,” so began Kristian Gidlund’s blog “I kroppen min” (In this body of mine) in March 2011, shortly after having been operated for stomach cancer at the age of 27.

Little could the musician from Borlänge rock band Sugarplum Fairy have then known that by the time his fight to beat the cancer that had ravaged his body would end less than three years later, his blog would have attracted some 8 million visitors and been published in book form.

“Kristian Gidlund is gone, his fantastic book is lying by my bed. This damn unfair cancer. This anonymous pest,” was how “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” actor Mikael Nyqvist greeted the news of his death on Tuesday.

While his blog was started to chart a journey towards death it became, perhaps inevitably, at least as much about life and in one particularly profound post he dedicated a message to the child he knew he would never have.

“I would try to inspire you to think for yourself. Beyond the expected. And I know that you would inspire me. You already do.”

“We would climb trees, you and I. And when you wanted to climb a little higher, I would try to let you. But I would stand beneath you with my arms outstretched and with a throbbing pulse.”

Gidlund has said that he had always wanted to be a correspondent reporting from war zones across a troubled world. He has explained that his blog had in some form become his way of fulfilling that dream – except his war zone was not a place, it was his body.

“I am not writing so that one should cry over what I am saying. It feels more that I have landed in a front line which I have to report from. I am like an adventurer in an unknown jungle with access to a remarkable telegraph that I have to use,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet daily in 2013.

Judging by the outpouring of public sentiment following his death on Tuesday afternoon, this telegraph had become a beacon for a broad spectrum of Swedes. Gidlund had for some attained an almost messianic guru status, a development which he consistently sought to diffuse.

“I am just a guy who happens to have got cancer, nothing else,” he said in his hugely popular talk programme on Sveriges Radio in the summer 2013.

This honest, humble, poetic, message made Kristian Gidlund’s personal fate comprehensible for a wider audience. His writing has provided a lasting legacy and a reminder that life is not something worth waiting for.

Editor’s Note: The Local’s Swede of the Week is someone in the news who – for good or ill – has revealed something interesting about the country. Being selected as Swede of the Week is not necessarily an endorsement.

SEE ALSO: A list of The Local’s past Swedes of the Week

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

Follow Peter on Twitter

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

RESEARCH

Nordic twins help reveal higher cancer risks

A comprehensive study of twins in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland has led to new revelations about increased cancer risks among siblings.

Nordic twins help reveal higher cancer risks
If one twin gets cancer, the other has a higher risk of getting sick too. Photo: Colourbox
Twins share the same genes, and when one gets cancer, the other faces a higher risk of getting sick too, according to a study published on Tuesday that included 200,000 people.
 
But just because one twin falls ill does not mean that the other is certain to get the same cancer, or any cancer at all, according the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
 
In fact, the amount of increased risk of cancer was just 14 percent higher in identical pairs in which one twin was diagnosed with cancer.
 
Identical twins develop from the same egg and share the exact same genetic material.
 
Among fraternal twins, which develop from two eggs and are as genetically similar as typical biological siblings, the risk of cancer in a twin whose co-twin was infected was five percent higher.
 
The twins in the study hailed from Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway — all countries that maintain detailed health registries — and were followed between 1943 and 2010.
 
When researchers looked at the group as a whole, they found that about one in three individuals developed cancer (32 percent).
 
Therefore, the risk of cancer in an identical twin whose twin was diagnosed was calculated to be 46 percent.
 
In fraternal twins it amounted to a 37 percent risk of developing cancer if a co-twin was diagnosed.
 
The exact same cancer was diagnosed in 38 percent of identical twins and 26 percent of fraternal pairs.
 
The cancers that were most likely to be shared among twins were skin melanoma (58 percent), prostate (57 percent), non melanoma skin (43 percent), ovary (39 percent), kidney (38 percent), breast (31 percent), uterine cancer (27 percent).
 
“Because of this study's size and long follow-up, we can now see key genetic effects for many  cancers,” said Jacob Hjelmborg, from the University of Southern Denmark and co-lead author of the study.
 
Researchers said the findings may help patients and doctors understand more about the hereditary risks of cancer, a disease that kills eight million people around the world each year.
SHOW COMMENTS