March 13, 2021

World premiere: Dutch hospital to recycle costly cancer medication

Filed under: Dutch first,Health,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 3:22 pm

The Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Gelderland together with Dutch hospitals Jeroen Bosch ziekenhuis, St. Antonius and UMC Utrecht are setting up a trial to reuse unused costly oncology medication.

In the Netherlands at least 100 million euro worth of medication is thrown away each year, waste that increases the cost of healthcare. Too much medication is being prescribed, which leads to environmental waste because it often ends up in nature.

Of course, the ‘recycled’ medication will be subjected to rigorous quality control from pharmacists, with a temperature chip added to the sealed packaging. Based on the results, the RUMC will see if they cannot implement the program in more places.


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October 7, 2020

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen passes away, aged 65

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 2:24 pm

Dutch-American guitarist and arguably the heir to the technical guitar playing of Jimi Hendrix, Edward Lodewijk van Halen, better known as Eddie van Halen, passed way yesterday at age 65 after an ‘arduous battle with cancer’, according to his son Wolfgang (Wolf) van Halen who broke the sad news on Twitter.

Eddie van Halen was that unmistakable high end, loud guitar sound of 1980s rock band Van Halen. As well, he also guest starred on many other songs, including ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson in 1982.

Sticking to the Dutch angle, here’s all of Van Halen running around downtown Amsterdam in 1981, courtesy of Dutch music program Countdown (in English):

And because we all want to know if Eddie spoke Dutch, here he is with his brother Alex, also Van Halen’s drummer, speaking some Dutch (English subtitles).

Now go put some Van Halen on.

Photo of Eddie Van Halen by Carl Lender, some rights reserved)

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January 2, 2019

Dutch record malpractice claim sees patient die

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 12:39 pm

Happy New Year! Now let’s get to it.

Irish woman Adrienne Cullen had been campaigning for transparency in hospital care after she was left with terminal cervical cancer due to a grave medical error at a Dutch hospital, the mostly costly in Dutch medical history, to the tune of €545,000.

Sadly, Cullen passed away right before the new year, aged 58.

She had undergone tests in the Netherlands in 2011, but only two years later did doctors notice she had cancer. By 2015 her cancer had spread, and it was terminal. UMCU teaching hospital in Utrecht offered her €500,000 as long as she signed a gagging order to shut her up. Not taking this lying down, Cullen starting campaigning for more transparency about medical errors, and I bet told them to stuff it.

As well as giving lecture in her final days, Cullen was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Cork in Ireland. Her book ‘Deny, Dismiss, Dehumanize: What Happened When I went to Hospital’ will be published soon. Her entire story didn’t go unnoticed by the Dutch-language media either.


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June 19, 2018

Shortbread cookies as cancer patients taste them

Filed under: Food & Drink,Health by Orangemaster @ 4:15 pm

Imagine eating good old fashioned shortbread biscuits, but with an extra ingredient, spilanthol to give you the impression of how it is to taste biscuits the way a cancer patient tastes them.

The Internet tells us that spilanthol is a plant whose medicinal uses includes treating tooth pain and infections of the throat and gums. In other words, when you eat these cookies, they are tasty, but the spilanthol slowly takes over and makes the whole inside of your mouth tingle in an unpleasant fashion. And drinking water doesn’t help, which makes the whole experience ‘disgusting’, according to the Dutch who tried the biscuits.

That is the taste sensation of the ‘Awareness Through Experience’ (ATE) biscuit, developed by Robert Greene, chairman of the Hunger and Thirst foundation. The biscuits were made by chef Christian Boomker.

Before Greene himself was diagnosed with colon cancer, he was a nurse in an oncology department. Knowing that half of patients are underfed due to the terrible taste they experience when eating, he wanted to find a way to share this impression with others and draw attention to the issue.

(Link:, photo by Maëka Alexis, some rights reserved)

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September 21, 2015

Cancer patient dies building app for fellow patients

Filed under: Health,Science by Orangemaster @ 1:07 pm

Dutchman Frederik van den Broek who died last month of cancer was key in helping neurologists build MindApp, being dubbed as the world’s most advanced mobile-based app for cancer patients.

Available for Android and iPhone, MindApp will help users track and update appointments, manage their doctors and the quantities of pills they need to take, and much more.

Van den Broek said that he had received a printout from the hospital of all the appointments, medicine and information, but then lost the printout within an hour. “These things happen when you’ve lost a large part of your brain and your short-term memory has gone to pieces,” he explained.

According to neurologist Jaap Reijneveld of the Free University Medical Centre (VUMC) in Amsterdam involved in building the app, patients have a massively complicated treatment schedule, and this app will help them remember things and give constant feedback to doctors on the patient’s condition.

Find out more about what Van den Broek started MindApp in this video.


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March 23, 2014

Nina Hoekman, draughts champion despite cancer

Filed under: Health,Sports by Branko Collin @ 1:52 pm

draughts-florian-schroiffLast week Nina Hoekman became a record-equalling 11-time Dutch draughts champion.

The former number two of the world had to have all her moves physically performed by an official as 17 cancer tumors in her brain had made it difficult for her to move. The cancer was discovered in 2011 and the then-44-year-old Hoekman (born Nina Jankovskaja in Ukraine) was told she had six months to live. She survived those odds and in 2012 she won the rapid draughts tournament in Lille, France, in between radiation therapy sessions.

Another tumor was discovered last September and Hoekman was told she had two weeks to live. Doctors suggested she stop her treatment. Hoekman told Volkskrant yesterday: “Even if chemotherapy is only one percent effective, if it gives me a spark of hope, then who should deny me that therapy? I got the feeling that the doctors were pushing me to the exit. I had to accept death, that is what they told me. But I am a champion, I have competed for the world title several times, I never give up.”

At one point during the championship in Zoutelande, Zeeland, Hoekman got nauseous and dizzy, which cost her a point. In the final round against real estate agent Jacqueline Schouten she needed to score a point more than the number two of the competition, Vitalia Doumesh. The latter drew and Schouten lost, earning Hoekman an eleventh Dutch title. With that title she equalled the record of Karen van Lith.

(Photo by Florian Schroiff, some rights reserved)

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December 28, 2011

Orangemaster’s favourite stories of 2011

Filed under: Bicycles,General,Sports by Orangemaster @ 5:33 pm

Another year of posting is coming to an end and it’s time to pick our favourite stories of 2011.

We had a lot of stories about cycling and bicycles which were retweeted by many people (thanks!), encouraging us to make a category for them, and a lot of stories about discriminatory and absurd laws and situations. Oh, and some sports news.

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August 10, 2011

Health minister pulls funding on successful breast cancer drug

Filed under: Health by Orangemaster @ 1:40 pm

Dutch Health Minister Edith Schippers has decided to pull the plug on a breast cancer drug which can extend the lives of women who have an advanced form of the disease. Bottom line: the minister believes it’s expensive and has no added value, which is pretty much code for ‘they’ll die anyway, just later on’. Most people who get cancer do die of it, sadly, so the logic is elusive at best.

Although this pill-based chemotherapy treatment (read the data) prolongs life, stops the spread of cancer to the brain, is approved in nearly all EU countries and is registered with the European pharmaceutical authority EMA, the Minister is going ahead with her plans, and doctors are livid.

The Netherlands has the fourth highest rate of breast cancer in the world. By cutting this funding, it also shows it isn’t interested in a cure, just budget cuts.

The Netherlands is also terribly depressed, is the infant mortality leader in the EU and has questionable women’s health care practices, including lack of gynaecologists on weekends in hospitals, no routine check-ups, pap smears or echograms (still widely considered ‘for fun’), a preference for not using any pain killers during childbirth and other things that expats and international find very difficult to wrap their brains around.

You’ll still rather get sick here than in countries where health care costs are unaffordable for most people, although I’d retort by preferring to get sick in the UK, Canada and Australia.

(Link:, Photo of Bras by Jill Motts, some rights reserved)

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August 11, 2009

Motorbiking to Kazakhstan to help fight cancer

Filed under: Automobiles,General by Orangemaster @ 9:53 am

Together with his friend Tom van Ees (left), Martin de Vries, 35, (right), plans to drive by motorbike from their hometown Den Bosch (‘s-Hertogenbosch) all the way to Kazakhstan, his brother proudly started telling people online the other day.

Saturday, 15 August, they will set off on a 17,000 km route to the capital of Almaty and back, going through 15 countries on the way, with the goal of raising money to fight cancer. “Still one in every three people in the Netherlands gets cancer. That is way too much. We are paying for the costs of our trip ourselves, so all the money we raise will go to this great cause.”

Find out more about their plight, the blog and their pictures by visiting the specially setup website

(Link: Lykle de Vries, Photo: Martin de Vries)

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October 27, 2008

Healthy purple tomatoes may fight cancer

Filed under: Food & Drink,Science by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am
Purple tomato

British and Dutch scientists have developed a new, purple-coloured tomato. Research shows that this tomato is very healthy and protects people against the onset of some types of cancer.

According to the research institute Plant Research International of the Wageningen University, two genes of the snapdragon flower (antirrhinum) have been added to the tomato through genetic modification. These genes are needed to produce anthocyanins, purple-coloured antioxidants, which can also be found in blackberries, strawberries and cranberries.

Not only do anthocyanins protect against certain types of cancers, but also against heart and vascular diseases. Moreover, anthocyanins are said to be anti-inflammatory. The new tomatoes worked well on mice that are very prone to getting cancer.

(Link and photo:

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