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31 March 2014 / erikduval

Not so great news…

Sit down, take a deep breath… This is a bit of a personal message…

I’ve had a series of medical checks over the past few weeks. A few days ago, I was diagnosed with a rare kind of lymphoma. (Yup, I always want to be a special case…) T-cell non Hodgkin NOS, if you’re into that kind of detail. This means that I will undergo somewhat intensive chemotherapy the next 6 months. We’re still going to do a few more tests and I will probably start treatment in a few days from now.

It’s a bit unclear how my body will react, but I do want to stay in the loop and may be able to contribute here and there… Actually, I may end up with more free time than before. I’ll maybe do a bit more writing. I will have to avoid face-to-face time with most of you though, as my resistance against infections will be very low. But, you know, you can leave a comment here. Chat, google hangouts and Skype can do wonders these days. Email works too, I’ve been told.

Seriously, it’s nice to receive a bit of support. I’ve been lucky to receive lots of support over the past two weeks. Send me some more – I appreciate that. And maybe send a message to someone less lucky than I am. She’ll appreciate that too. I know.

Two quick additional things:

1) There is no need to keep this a secret. (I guess blogging about it wouldn’t be such a great idea if I wanted to keep this a secret anyway.) In as far as possible, I prefer to break the news myself. But if people ask about me, then feel free to let them know. Hey, you know I’m an open kind of guy…

2) I know this puts you in a bit of an awkward situation: you will wonder whether you should mention it to me or not, whether to send a message or not, etc. Here’s the rule: you send, ask, or tell me whatever you want to send, ask or tell me. If I’m not in the mood or whatever, I’ll tell you. If I don’t react, then don’t take it personally: I may be a bit busy with Getting Better.

To tell you the truth, I’ll have to figure out how to deal with this as we go. This is a bit new for me too 😉

In conclusion: take a moment this evening to think about Stuff. Enjoy a glass of something. Spend some time with Someone Special… And then I hope we can talk about it a bit later, when I’m Fully Recovered?

And to my students, as I tweeted a few hours ago: sorry for dropping bit of a bomb on you with this message. Take care: you’re a nice group of students! Impress me with your work!



Leave a Comment
  1. Cristina Costa / Mar 31 2014 8:49 pm

    This post tells me you will succeed this challenge. Keep on posting, on tweeting, on sharing, in short, on being yourself. I look forward to reading you.
    Appreciating life and living it well, only few know how! It takes a positive attitude. You have that. Thanks for remind me of it! 😉 Sometimes it’s easy to forget

    Looking forward to the new writing

  2. carpetbomberz / Mar 31 2014 11:42 pm

    You’re not alone, that is certain. I think back to Xeni Jardin’s (from blogging while she was sick. It happens to a lot of people and number of them do well. Thankyou for your openness, it will not be wasted.

  3. Andras Szucs / Mar 31 2014 11:56 pm

    Erik, you may well imagine how many people will be touched by this news and feel sympathy… just today, I explained to one of my excellent colleagues, how very significant your scholarly work is. We much appreciate you, will be with you, some with prayers, others by keeping high your authority.


  4. Kate / Apr 1 2014 1:44 am

    Hello, I’m so sorry to hear this news.

    I also chose to mention on my ed-tech/highered blog that I’ve been unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer—well, really, who expects this moment?—and since that first post I’ve been overwhelmed with support and kindness, including from complete strangers. I’m currently in chemo, and it has helped me more than I can say to write my way through this maze. There’s really so much to take in and think about.

    Take care, and good luck. I’m finding it to be a life-changing journey.

  5. opendistanceteachingandlearning / Apr 1 2014 5:15 am

    Thanks for sharing this Erik. It is through your openness regarding your journey that we all find courage to live more authentic and real lives. When I started my own journey 6 years ago, I discovered much strength in reading “The wounded storyteller” by Arthur W Frank (1995). This is, however, your journey…

  6. ismael peña-lópez / Apr 1 2014 5:24 am

    I once heard you say ( that learning matters, that it is about getting better at getting better.

    So learn.
    And get better.

    Best wishes,


  7. devedzic / Apr 1 2014 8:42 am

    Dear Erik,
    Once I asked my daughter (she’s 14 now) what was it that she liked the most about herself). He answer was: “I’m a fighter.” We all know that you’re a great fighter. We all know that when you fight you win. We all know that you will fight and win in this case as well. Learning CAN exist without the world, but the world CANNOT exist without learning.

  8. Hendrik Drachsler / Apr 1 2014 8:53 am

    Dear Erik, it’s is difficult to find the right words as I was really puzzled when I read this. Especially, as we have been in contact over the past months and I did not notice any changes.

    All the best for this challenge. Maybe it does not harm to support the doctors with some quantified data to get you healthy as soon as possible. I’m just back from the LAK14 and looking forward to enjoy the family. So I will take your hint with me over the day. Take care, and good luck.

  9. Tom De Buyser / Apr 1 2014 9:14 am

    I hope you will get better very soon! I wish you the best luck for the next few months.

  10. Dirk De Grooff / Apr 1 2014 9:57 am

    Hey Erik,

    Ik schrok van dit nieuws. Van een superactieve man als jij verwacht je dit natuurlijk niet. Ik wens je een spoedig herstel toe en veel moed voor de volgende maanden.

  11. Ralf Klamma / Apr 1 2014 10:44 am

    Dear Erik,

    this is shocking news, indeed. I wish you and your family all the strength necessary to overcome this unfortunate situation. Get well soon.

    All the best,

  12. sverjans / Apr 1 2014 10:53 am

    Hoi Erik,
    Met jouw energie en levensmoed heb je een stuk voorsprong, denk ik. Maar neem toch ook maar de nodige tijd en rust om van je gezin te genieten. Er moet nu even helemaal niets, geen studenten, geen projecten, geen niks. Nu moet je voor jezelf en je lichaam zorgen, denk ik, zodat we daarna nog heel lang van je ongebreideldheid kunnen genieten 😉
    En ik zal zeker van je tip gebruik maken en vandaag een beetje meer genieten dan andere dagen.

  13. Aaron / Apr 1 2014 12:06 pm


    As a fan of your work, a kindred spirit in advancing how we as humans learn and live, and as just an American dude who is keen on hugs, I have only positive and healing thoughts to share, which your entire career has been about. Learn and live. I wish the best for you and your family.

  14. Wilfred Rubens / Apr 1 2014 1:09 pm

    Dat is inderdaad schrikken, Eric. Ik wil je graag beterschap en veel sterkte wensen met de strijd die je de komende tijd op tal van vlakken zult moeten voeren.

  15. Jo Bervoets / Apr 1 2014 1:22 pm

    Get Better. I selected Someone Special for my evening (it is the same someone as most of the last evenings over the past years but she is Definitely Special). Your special people will take care of you. I count on science taking care of your disease.

  16. griet lust / Apr 1 2014 3:17 pm

    Beste Erik,

    Veel beterschap en goede moed!

    Griet Lust

  17. Vana Kamtsiou / Apr 1 2014 5:39 pm

    Hi Erik, difficult news. I wish you all the luck and strength. Believing in getting well is half the job. Everything will go all right, you are an extraordinary person and you will win this! Vana

  18. eossiann / Apr 1 2014 6:28 pm

    I wish you all the best erik take care and thanks a llotfor sharing and letting us know. All the best ebba

  19. Barbara / Apr 1 2014 9:07 pm

    Hi Erik, i attended one of your lectures eight years ago. I can still remember how impressed I was. My father was diagnosed with the same lymphoma 30 years ago. No one can compare this I just wanted you to know that our family still considers the time of the treatment as extremely hard but very very intense and important for us. My father and I would not have had this strong relationship for another 25 years without that. I’m glad you can talk about openly. I wish you all the best!

  20. Soudé / Apr 1 2014 9:24 pm

    You are one of those few ones who still has his inner child alive Erik!… of course the inner wild child 😉 let him be alive and he will conquer for sure!

    I bet that you’ll send a post here much sooner than the end of six months from now: “HEY! GREAT NEWS! I WON!”

    Good to make a resolution for every month (week/day?) from now. For April 1st:

    Let the rain fall down
    Everywhere around you
    Give into it now
    Let the day surround you
    You don’t need a reason
    Let the rain go on and on”

  21. Jelena Jovanovic / Apr 1 2014 9:50 pm

    Hello Erik,

    These are very unfortunate news, but I’m sure you have the strength to fight the illness, and will come out of that ‘battle’ even stronger than you’ve ever been.

    I’m looking forward to seeing your post telling us that everything is fine and you’re feeling great:)

    Take care and all the best


  22. Karine Nicolay / Apr 2 2014 3:11 pm

    Hallo Erik
    Ik stuurde net de aanvraag voor Erasmus+ KA2 door. Ik duim voor jou, en verwacht je Fully Recovered mee met ons aan de start in november! We houden je op de hoogte. Karine en de rest van de toekomstige partners…

  23. vancampenhoutg / Apr 2 2014 9:14 pm

    Hello Erik,
    I am pretty shocked by reading this as you seem to me to be a very healthy and active person.
    I remember the first lesson you gave me, with an enormous enthusiasm and experience, I hope you will be back soon to transfer this enthusiasm to other students as well.
    I have a great amount of respect for you for being so open and clear about this, I’m sure that is not always easy and can be tiring but I see even only here that you get a lot of wishes and support back.

    Thank you to make us stand still again for a moment and think about the important things in life by sharing this.
    I wish you the best!

    Geert (An engineering graduate of last year)

  24. natasabrouwer / Apr 2 2014 11:30 pm

    Dear Erik,
    I’m shocked reading your blog. Thank you for sharing this with us. I admire your positive attitude. This is what you need to Get Better! Keep fighting, be strong and stay positive! You will win!
    I wish you to get better soon and to fully recover!

  25. Mark De Boer / Apr 3 2014 7:50 am

    I am shocked by this news, but I am sure that you will win. You are an inspiration to everyone. My thoughts are with you and I look forward to your full recovery. My thoughts are with your family too as you all go through this difficult time.

  26. Samara / Apr 3 2014 8:37 am

    These are indeed paralyzing news, but hey, you are such an inspirational guy…, for me, for so many people. Sometimes it happens that the best people have to go through things like this to learn and be an example of strength for others. I’m sure that this will be just another lesson more, the most important one that you will teach us. In the meantime it’s time to let others take care of you too.

    All my research group wants to send you a big hug and a fast recovery. When you are recovered, you should know that San Sebastian is a beautiful city to get better and eat well. We wait you here with open arms.


  27. Julie Vermeersch / Apr 3 2014 8:50 am

    Hello Erik
    Take care! Pull strength from pleasant encounters with friends and family, from a calm sunny evening, from reading and writing. Your post is a reminder for me to do the same.
    Best wishes
    Julie Vermeersch (formerly KU Leuven Association staff member, now staff member at FIIW)

  28. Ignatia / Apr 3 2014 2:11 pm

    Hallo Erik,
    Wat een moeilijk nieuws om te verwerken. Hopelijk vind je een nieuwe identiteit. Voor mij was de simpele diagnose van diabetes type 1 al moeilijker dan ik verwacht had, dus ik kan me niet inbeelden wat bloedkanker als diagnose teweeg brengt met je eigen identiteit. Zelf voel ik me nog steeds aan de andere kant van de glazen wand die ‘gezonden’ van ‘zieken’ scheidt. Dit heeft niets treurigs, gewoon een feit in mijn hoofd. Alles krijgt nu een nieuwe plaats. Ik zag je alleen vanuit een publiek, de volgende keer dat we elkaar zien ga ik je huggen… zomaar omdat jouw mail me beroerde en jij een prachtmens bent in alles wat je doet.
    PS: meerdere van mijn MOOC Open Universiteit UK onderzoek learners zijn ook chemo-patienten of zorgers voor chemo-ondergaande familieleden, iets wat ik interessant vind.

  29. Dirk / Apr 3 2014 6:52 pm

    Beste Erik – jij gaat nu even op stap door de nacht… maar weet dat de sterren aan de hemel allemaal mensen zijn die je vergezellen naar de dageraad. Je reist niet alleen.

    . D

  30. Carolina / Apr 6 2014 2:32 pm

    Dear Erik,

    Thank you for sharing and I hope the chemotherapy is working on your favor, and the work of “getting better” is functioning and keep you busy focusing on life and the present!

    It is difficult for me to say a supporting sentence because I am aware that no-one knows what you are passing through. As any situation that requires one’s endurance, it means it is a personal and strong battle supported by your close ones.

    You have leave your seed in a lot of us who have the opportunity to meet you, even if it is shortly in a TEL summer school, and I am sure you continue now and will continue in the future to leave more seeds for us to grow. Life has its challenges, however we have to learn to live each single moment. You can do it and enjoy deeply each single moment as each one of us should do.

    As you allow us to make questions, there is one I have. I do not know if it is politically correct to ask, however when I read your post the question emerged automatically: What drove you to the doctor at first? Hope you were not feeling so sick.

    Our best energy for you and remember to enjoy each single day because at the end, that is what all of us really have, we only have the today! 🙂

    – Carolina

  31. Peter Sloep / Apr 7 2014 12:18 pm

    Hi Eric,

    I first heard about your illness when I saw a tweet of yours mentioning your first chemotherapy session. Shocking news. I hope that sharing your condition with your large community of friends helps you cope with the situation. All the best and take care!

  32. jondron / Apr 7 2014 5:09 pm

    Hey Erik – you manage to make even bad news like this into something truly special! As always you are an inspiration to the rest of us, and you make the world a better place for everyone that knows you. I very much hope that all goes as well as it can possibly go, and that you get better in record time.


  33. michelschevernels / Apr 8 2014 5:25 pm

    I wish you lots of courage and strength to get through this difficult period. I hope you will get better soon and that the chemo isn’t too hard to bare.
    All the best and take care,

  34. yimiau / Apr 8 2014 7:51 pm

    Hi Erik –
    getting well – we are sending strong healing energy along with our best wishes. We talked about “effort monitoring” after a workshop. My vague memory is that monitoring effort in terms of time spent on activity does not always work. This reminded me to stop logging time, but instead indulge moments of happiness and connection.
    I hope this comment will make its ways and, for a little bit, return the inspiration you have generously shared.

    Y. Mia

  35. Jeroen Beckers / Apr 9 2014 5:00 pm

    Beste Professor,

    Ik wens je veel beterschap en sterkte toe de komende maanden. Een positieve houding als de jouwe gaat je genezing sowieso een duw in de goede richting geven!


  36. Tinne / Apr 22 2014 11:06 am

    Beste collega, Beste Erik,

    Veel sterkte bij deze zware strijd!


  37. Drs. Smetty (@drsmetty) / Apr 23 2014 11:37 am

    Veel beterschap gewenst Erik.

  38. Juliet Webster / Apr 23 2014 1:33 pm

    Although we haven’t met yet, I know we will before long, as you have so kindly lent your support to our GenPORT project. In the meantime, and while you are adjusting to your illness and recovering from it, I want to send you the very good wishes of all of us working on GenPORT. You’ll be much in our thoughts in the coming period. Your blog is very spirited. Be strong, and take our good wishes with you.

  39. Gert-Jan / May 20 2014 8:48 pm

    Hi Erik,

    Veel succes en sterkte bij de medische interventies. Op naar herstel! Ook namens alle collega’s van Dommel Valley die deze middag in Venlo bijeen waren.


  40. louilewis7 / Aug 30 2014 11:16 pm

    Hi Erik
    I’ve only just started following you because I am interested in open learning, learner analytics, PLEs etc etc… I wish you all the very best and thank you for your wonderful insights.

  41. olga caprotti (@_olgacaprotti_) / Nov 11 2014 11:24 pm

    Hello Erik, I just heard this from Mika. Hang in there and keep working at your snowflake effect.


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