Perspectives on Mental Health, Cancer, and Life with Romee Dussenbroek

Meet my new friend Romee! She is beautiful inside out, easy and fun to talk to, and radiates this empowering and energizing persona! I’ve never actually met her in person. I’ve been following her life journey through her youtube channel where she has been documenting her life from her musical endeavours, worldly travels, personal anecdotes, and recently her cancer journey. 

You may sound alarmed at how casually I mentioned ‘Cancer’ for it typically invokes some sort of shock, confusion, or even fear to say the least. That was intentional. I really want to use this opportunity to introduce, normalize and amplify this notion of not reducing or limiting one’s character to one thing. We tend to do that as humans. I have been a personal victim of that but it is about time I, and we as a collective, recondition ourselves. 

Further, I really wanted to share Romee’s perspective of things with regards to mental health and sanity. We may all be in different walks of life and have different goals, ambitions and pursuits, however, one of the many things that truly puts us all in the same bubble is the unwavering need to secure and prioritize a healthy and happy mindset. It is important to focus on what is within our control and not give much importance to what is outside our reach.

Romee and I draw upon our personal life experiences and reflect on our challenges, ways of coping, things that have worked and how we are both still building and iterating on establishing an inner mental framework. If you don’t have time to watch our conversation, please feel free to scroll further down for the key takeaways. Here are some key takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Every individual is entitled to feel a certain way - Romee provides a beautiful example. She talks about how she is surrounded by relatively critically ill patients in her ward and so sometimes feels the need to suppress expressing her own pain and concerns to her nurses. Why should she? Does that mean that those that are not in hospital shouldn’t be able to feel and express pain? ‘Suffering’ is a relative term evidently!  Perspective is definitely important but it is also important to acknowledge and empathise regardless as long. 

  2. There are so many small pleasures even in the worst of circumstances that are often hidden in plain sight - Romee may not be having the best time in hospital during the festive season but she finds pleasure in the beautiful view outside her window for example. 

  3. Sometimes, you just can’t be positive and that is okay. I think there may be a misconception about how one should always strive to be positive and happy. It sounds nice and ideal but can lead to false hope. Rather, I think it is important to be practical and accept things for what they are. Accept your emotions. In Romee’s case, there is so much that she has in her control and so she chooses to focus on that. If she is having a bad day, then she accepts that and gets on with it. Romee’s days are also invariably unpredictable - she tells me how a simple MRI scan or a blood test can completely change the course of her day so it is better to take things as they come. It is difficult, to therefore, be set on something when often things are not always in your control. 

  4. If you ever feel belittled by someone, talk to them about it and give everyone the   opportunity to learn. When people react in a rather unfavorable manner to Romee when they learn of her cancer, Romee chooses to speak up and enlighten them on how she would prefer they act. She gives them a chance! Sometimes it just comes down to a lack of awareness. 

  5. Talk to people. Sometimes bottling things up or going into your shell may be the easy way out but that may be mere escapism. Have tough conversations with people and really communicate how you feel.

Link to her youtube:

If anyone reading this feels like they would like to discuss something or converse please feel free to reach out to me through any of my handles linked on my profile.