Stefan Karl Stefansson (Robbie Rotten) Is Now Free Of Cancer
“I’m free from the disease, the cancer. The damn disease is gone. Until it comes back, whenever that will be, which will hopefully be never.” says Stefán Karl Stefánsson about his life after two surgeries for liver cancer. “Life is now. It’s almost a miracle that I’m still here.”
Stefán Karl described to the radio show “Síðdegisútvarpið” on the radio channel Rás 1 how one tumor after the other had been found in his liver. Among them a huge tumor that was discovered during the surgery. A part of the liver was taken, but it will renew itself. In the twelve months since Stefán Karl was diagnosed with cancer, he has undergone surgery twice. “It of course comes as a great shock. You just go numb to begin with.” He says it’s weird to be in this position since only one in 100,000 get this type of cancer. “Of course I get it. I’m one of a kind.”
Stuck watching other people
The cancer made him rethink his life and what he wanted to do. “Most people go within the first five years. All of a sudden you have to start rearranging and prioritize your life. What happens when the shock starts to go away and you pull up your pants – You start organizing what really matters and what doesn’t.”
The changes are many. For example, he has stopped taking part in discussions about politics and other negative things, which before had taken up a lot of his time. He says political discussion on the internet worries him. “I think we have just too little to do. We are hanging around on Facebook and reading each others’ feeds. We are “stalkers”, we are “stalking” each others’ lives all day long and criticizing them. It’s kind of like standing by your window: “Look how he’s painting his house, he’s painting it green, I’d never paint my house green.” Except now you you have a platform and write from it on Facebook.” He says people don’t have to fall ill to see how sick that attitude is, but that the illness makes it so that he looks at life with different eyes than before.
Death is incredibly insignificant
“Many people ask me if I’m afraid to die. It’s something that me and Steinunn have discussed a lot. Death is such an incredibly insignificant thing, completely irrelevant, while life is so interesting and magnificent.”
Stefán Karl says that people should smile and be thankful for existing. That it isn’t so granted. That’s why people shouldn’t grieve if they maybe have little time left, but to enjoy being here. “Let’s not cry and think “Woulda, coulda, shoulda”, let’s stop looking in the rear-view mirror and look ahead onto the road because that heals all wounds. When I woke up after my first surgery, which is one of the most serious and dangerous surgeries they do on the human body, the nurses looked at me and said: “Now you will have to go and heal yourself Stefán”. That is one of the most profound things I have learned in my life.” At that time, medicine had done all it could do and it was up to him to watch his body and mind.
Rejoices over things that haven’t happened
“The only times I tear up is when I think of all the things I might possibly miss. I can’t miss something that hasn’t happened, but I think, for example, the idea of not getting to hold my grandchildren is incredibly sad. That’s when I get really depressed. I probably won’t be able to walk my daughters down the altar when they get married but I know they’ll be in good hands. These are the only moments when I get sad, but I also smile thinking about that it will happen for them, hopefully and that hopefully they’ll manage, like me, to have kids because it’s so magnificent to become a parent. So I smile and get happy over things that haven’t happened. Me and Steinunn discuss this very openly with our children.”
Stefán Karl says that him and Steinunn had told their kids it was important to be honest about their feelings and let people know if they didn’t want to talk about this if asked.
Bikes 20 kilometers a day
“I have recovered really fast and it’s probably due to just getting up and exercising. Exercise is really key but you have to start slowly.” said Stefán Karl who tries to bike at least 20 kilometers a day. He lifted weights regularly before his illness. At that time the goal was to build up muscle mass but now he’s lost a lot of weight.
“I don’t look at it like I received some death sentence even though I know that everything past the next two years of my life is a miracle. I look at it like we should be creating memories.” says Stefán Karl. He says that people have to make the right choices about how to spend time with their children.
-Writing a stand-up routine about cancer-
Stefán Karl said at the radio show “Síðdegisútvarpið” that he was writing his first stand-up routine. “This stand-up revolves around cancer, which is funny.” He says he’s not doing it alone but has had help from stand-up comedian Ari Eldjárn writing it. “We’re gonna start testing it in October and then I’ll premiere it soon after New Years. I’m gonna make some fun of this.”
It’s important to be able to laugh at the illness. “Laughter doesn’t exactly prolong your life but it makes it easier.” Stefán Karl said that he had to learn to fart again after the surgery. He had at some times doctors and nurses standing over him asking him about the last time he farted and how. “There are a lot of things surrounding this that are hilarious.”