Sven Marx (50) is a true Berliner. And he has the "now-first-right mentality" that is always attributed to people in our city. It helped him when he fell ill with a life-threatening illness. Read a report about a man who doesn't give up.
Sven Marx's life was colorful and varied - apprentice roofer, partner in a roofing company, motorcyclist, diving instructor, globetrotter. Until 2009, when a life-threatening tumor was diagnosed in his head, directly on the brain stem. Only three percent of all people worldwide develop this disease. This was followed by a nine-hour operation in the neurosurgery department of the Vivantes Klinikum in Friedrichshain, during which Sven had to be resuscitated three times. Only half of the tumor could be removed. Two days later there was a hemorrhage. The consequences: a three-month stay in intensive care, hemiplegia, artificial respiration, artificial nutrition, Sven was a medical care case. In a rehabilitation facility, he painstakingly learned to walk, sit and eat again for three months. After that, he got married, and his girlfriend Annett had been by Sven's side since 1996. Then, in 2011, came the next shock diagnosis: black skin cancer. In an operation a malignant melanoma was removed. So much for the key data of the medical history.
Cycling as therapy
Sven had already started cycling in 2009 to "fight his way back to a normal life," as he says. He has overcome setbacks. Slowly, he regained his strength, built up his muscles in training, worked consistently on his motor skills - a strong feat of will! He covered an incredible 35,000 kilometers between 2009 and 2013, traveling to well over 20 countries. In 2014, he traveled Route 66 in the USA, and in 2015 he went to Japan, among other places. By the end of 2016, he had covered a total of 49,000 kilometers on four continents, through 29 countries and 20 capitals.
Commitment to inclusion
On all these paths, he has met interesting people and made new contacts. This has led to exciting projects: a collaboration with "Inklusion braucht Aktion", an initiative of Health Media g. e. V. Another with the Network Inclusion Germany, for which Sven, as project sponsor, Sven carried the inclusion torch over the Alps together with Karl Grandt, who also has a handicap. Pope Francis during a private audience. The torch was transported on to Rio in 2016 for the Paralympic Games - Sven was there for the handover to the German team. This year there are also new projects, always together with associations that are committed to people with disabilities, and more actions are planned for 2018. Since April, Sven Marx has been on the road again - on a bicycle world tour. He will be on the road for 18 months, visiting the German Embassy in every country he cycles through. In his luggage: the Inclusion Torch. In Japan, it will be used to get the royal family in the mood for the Paralympic Games in 2020.
How does Sven manage all this? How impaired is he after his serious illnesses? "The examinations for skin cancer are currently biannual, I have to protect myself from the sun, of course. I still have a tumor of about 1 cm³ on the brain stem. It has been irradiated and is not growing at present. Annually I have to go to MRI (magnetic resonance therapy) to check if the tumor has changed its size. The impairments: Double vision in 100 percent of my field of vision. I also have no spatial vision and suffer from balance and swallowing reflex problems." And yet he can ride a bike, how does that work? "Quite simply," Sven answers, "with running, you have to rebalance each step. With cycling, you push the bike once and then it moves straight ahead. Balancing is thus much easier for me because small bumps don't cause me to trip."
Sven Marx, who sees himself as an "encourager," shares his experiences with others: Since 2014, he has been giving talks about his "way back to life." He donates part of his proceeds to projects and initiatives that support socially disadvantaged children and the elderly - for example, DID e. V. He has also published a book in the meantime. What drives him? "I want to give people, disabled or not, hope and encourage them to set out into the wide world. The body can only do what the head wants. And so my mind drives my body to keep going and to keep getting me out of the diagnosis of being a caregiver further and further. I'm learning every day, and as long as that's the case, I'm not getting up for nothing, and life has a purpose."
Vision and responsibility
Neurosurgeons are rare: Among 1,000 doctors, you will meet at most one, in some countries there is none at all - such as in Sierra Leone. Patients with diseases of the nervous system visit a neurosurgeon, and they ask: 'Will my life be more favorable if you operate on me?' Often, this involves interventions near the individuality and at the material basis of a possible sense of self. This then requires a medical conception, sometimes also a vision, which is to be implemented with fine craftsmanship and for which personal responsibility is to be taken. One may ask in this sense: 'What is reality? Do ideas also belong to reality?' Who says 'yes' to this, by the way, does not need to ask the question about the existence of God anymore. Sven Marx lives one of the possible answers.
Prof. Dr. Dag Moskopp is a neurosurgeon and performed brain surgery on Sven Marx in 2009. He heads the Neurosurgery - Center for Skull Base and Spine Surgery at Vivantes Friedrichshain Hospital.