13 Nov Ruben Lenten Computes
Ruben Lenten is a professional kitesurfer from the Netherlands. The 28 year old has established himself as one of the biggest stars in the sport, winning the 2005 Red Bull King of Air competition and innovation throughout his career. Ruben was a key contributor in bringing kitesurfing to the masses, working to create a simple scoring system as well as and more high flying awe-inspiring jumps. Ruben was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, but he refused to let it stop him.
How long have you been a professional kite surfer? What drew you to extreme sports?
Fortunately, I grew up close to the beach so I picked up a kite when I was about 8 years old and when I was twelve I got my first real inflatable kite and got out on the water. That’s when the sport just got to Europe in 1999. It’s funny, in the beginning, it took me 3-4 days to even get up and ride. But soon after that, I got the hang of it and my career took off. I have been pro and traveling the world as of the age of 15. I was always an energetic and adventurous kid. We were always playing sports, from soccer, to wakeboarding to snowboarding… but flying a kite and riding on the water felt most natural to me, so that’s what I went with. The sport has added so much to my life and really helped shape my path and active lifestyle.
Could you describe the thoughts going through your head while you are at the highest point in your jump?
Hah, jumping with kiteboarding feels so awesome as every jump is different and unique. It’s that dynamic game with the wind and water that feels epic when it flows. It gives such an epic feeling that you’re just able to grab some wind with a bag and fly into the wind whenever you want. My biggest jump has been 20+ meters high and 100+ meters far… that felt incredible, being in that moment. I’ll never forget it! And am always striving for more… 🙂
Do you remember what was going through your head right after the doctor told you that you had cancer?
In May 2015 I felt the first symptoms of something was wrong with me. Not thinking anything majorly of some chest pain and weird feelings, it went away after 3 days. Couple months later the pain returned and I had some night sweats, went to the doc to check up and it would be some stress. Sweats continued and I went to the hospital, still not thinking anything majorly of it. Got an Xray done and then one minute before the docs came in I started thinking, oh maybe it’s something gnarly. The door opened and I saw their faces and they said, you have a 9x9cm inflammation in your chest, right behind your heart. You need to go see an oncologist asap. I couldn’t believe it and freaked out for a good 10 minutes. I thought my life was over! Talking a little further with the doc it would probably be a Lymphoma, which are overall pretty curable. Then I just kicked into survival mode and knew what I had to do. Putting that much poison in your body is a nightmare.
Did beating cancer teach you anything about yourself?
Yes, most definitely. I believe that all major setbacks in your life happen for a reason and this one has gained me lots of perspective on everything. So I’m very grateful to have pulled through and am now happier, more free and stronger than ever. How cool! 😛
What kinds of things helped you while you were fighting it?
Starting from the moment we got the news it were my close friends and family that were there for me and got my back. Creating an even closer and meaningful relationship. I have been very fortunate with the amount of love, energy and support I received from the entire community around me. Every message touched me deeply and encouraged me to pull through this. Besides this it was definitely the chemotherapy that killed the tumor and I started living even healthier to remain strong. I used cannabis oil which helped me have appetite, less pain and relaxed. And of course trying to keep the positive and happy vibes up as much as possible. This went fairly easy as the first thing I learned in the hospital was; It can always be worse! So true! Not saying it wasn’t bad, just saying I was glad my head was still on there… 🙂 tends to make things easier!
Did you ever feel discouraged while fighting it, and how did you overcome these thoughts?
I kicked into survival mode and had my goal in sight only. 6 Rounds of 5 liters of chemo. I must admit that I was completely done with the whole poison thing and I stopped medication, pulled out my picc line and refused the last treatment. I was in so much stomach pain and just drained from already 25 liters of chemo that I refused to continue. I thought it was good enough already and that I would survive without the last round. But after a week my fiancé and close ones convinced me to take the last round. That was the worst round for sure… but I did it and survived and now I feel great. So thanks to all!
After beating the biggest challenge in your life, what’s a future goal you have?
Having gone through this rollercoaster made me realize a lot of things and I am just grateful for the life I am able live, the people I get to meet and hang with, the food, the drinks and all the awesome travels and epic kiteboarding sessions. Even the not so epic things have been easier to deal with or turn away from. So my future goal is to keep putting my energy with things and people that vibrate well with me and to keep appreciating and enjoying the little things in life. Slow it down and keep it simple. Flow your way, with a smile… and feel twice as high!
How did your sponsors like Red Bull and WeTransfer support you through your fight?
Everything and everyone has been super supportive so I can’t say thank you to all enough. The whole cancer ride have kickstarted a clean start and am now happy with my focus and direction.
At the moment I work together with my fiancee to build out the LEN10 brand. Adding more kiteboarding products, shoots, courses, travels and events to the calendar to keep rocking my passion and put kiteboarding on the map.
And looking very forward to Cape Town this season, Nikki and I are going to get married. And I will be competing at the Red Bull King of the Air event. Exciting times ahead.
Thanks for your time and good luck with this awesome project guys.
Big thanks to Ruben for taking the time to talk with us here at Compute for Cancer. If you want to stay in the loop with him you can follow him here. To join in the fight to cure cancer, you can download our app this December and start donating your computing power to cancer researchers today.