“I have worked at TU Delft for 13 years now. I started working as a Management Assistant for Professor Sef Heijnen at the Cell Systems Engineering Section (Faculty of Applied Sciences) but he retired in 2017. He was a professor who didn’t work with a computer so I did everything for him so that he could completely focus on the science. It was exciting for me to work on things that other management assistants didn’t do. When he retired, I started doing administration work for the PDEng trainees, the process design engineers, in Biotechnology. Then three years ago I started working for BioTech Delft where I have been helping to organise advanced courses for biotechnology.
My grandmother had always volunteered for the Dutch Cancer Society. She died almost eight years ago from cancer. My grandfather also died from cancer when he was only 48 years old so my grandmother was alone for a long time. It always fascinated me that she still did this volunteer work until she was quite old. I wanted to follow in her footsteps and do something for cancer as well.
In 2017 I heard that the Swim to Fight Cancer (in Dutch) event in Delft was going to take place and I told my family I was going to swim. My son Storm, who was then 14 years old, told me he would do it with me. So in 2017 we did the swim together and in 2019 I swam with my daughter Sterre and my colleague Vincent Renken. At that point I decided it would be the last time I would actually participate in the swim. Then I saw an advertisement on the Facebook page from the swim organisation that they were looking for somebody to do public relations and social media. I thought maybe this was a way to continue helping. I also knew other people in Delft who were on the board so that made it easier for me to do this. The chairman is Sjaak Lispet, a well-known citizen of Delft who also worked at the Faculty of Applied Sciences.
‘The money raised goes to the scientists, directly towards research’
This year the Delft swim will take place on Saturday 3 September. There will be a kids swim and an adult swim. The swimmers begin in the water at the restaurant Huszar on Hooikade and from there they will swim through the canal to the Oostpoort and back. People swimming with kids will pick them up at the Delft student rowing club Laga and complete the swim together. In total, the kids will swim about 650 metres while adults will swim about 2 km.
Participants pay EUR 50 to register for the swim. It used to be much higher, but we wanted to make it more attractive for students to swim. Then each person makes their own webpage with their picture and why they are going to do the swim. This can be shared to find sponsors to help raise money.
It is really exciting to be in the water with people on the sides cheering for you. But of course, this is really about cancer research and the money raised goes to the scientists, directly towards research. We’re also in contact with TU Delft because there is some research on breast cancer happening here and we want to see if we can support that with the money we raise.
In the end, it’s about cancer, but it’s not a sad day. The day is really fun because there is music and supporters will be by the water cheering the swimmers. It’s also about loving life.”