RTV794: MAY 2, 2024

An interview by Harrie Mulder from RTV794 (in Dutch), to announce our presentation on May 6.



Featured Optimists

Down the rocky road – By Brian De Mello

When the magazine was still called Ode, their parents were already subscribers to The Optimist. As a result, it is not surprising that Florine (21) and Juliët (22) de Cock grew up full of optimism. That’s a good thing, because both young women had to deal with unexpected setbacks. Florine was diagnosed with lymphoma at the end of March 2018. That threw the entire family’s world into chaos, but it also made her more aware of life itself. She had been depressed and struggled with herself in a variety of ways in the previous years. Cancer taught her that there is another way to live. Florine rediscovered herself as an artist and began to communicate with her body in a honest way. That eventually led to a full recovery. In September 2019 she was declared cured, but on the same day her sister Juliet was told that she had Lyme disease. It felt as if both her and Florine’s disease process had something to do with each other. Furthermore, Juliët realized that she had spent her entire life focusing her energy on other people. It was time to focus on herself and let go of other people’s approval. Writing about these difficulties proved to be a way for her to untangle the jumbled words in her head. The poems that flowed from her pen appealed to many people around her. Together with Florine’s paintings, the idea for a book arose. The presentation of the English Rocky Roads became a reality in September of this year. An art book of two sisters who rediscovered themselves. Florine explains: ‘The book is a way of translating what we went through and an expression of the parts that are still healing. The diagnosis was the start of the house of cards breaking down piece by piece. I feel like that moment will echo through my life, as long as there are still cards standing I try to hide myself behind. This chain reaction of changes and the results in that, makes me wish to everyone not the disease itself, but the lessons that cancer can bring.’ Sister Juliët continues: ‘The gratitude for the incredibly beautiful moments that Flo and I experienced during the writing of the book, and how we recognize and strengthen each other in and with everything we do, is something that goes beyond the label of illness.’

Photo: Marijn van Laerhoven