No one can predict how one will react when confronted with a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Ulrich Schnorf (Ueli) was, during his lifetime and shall continue to be, an inspiration to many. Sadly, Ueli passed away on March 15, 2009 from diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He was successfully battling GIST since his initial diagnosis in 2000 with surgery, Gleevec (600mg.), and most significantly, with incredible optimism and courage. Two years ago Ueli also survived a lung cancer operation that was accompanied by several complications.
Ueli was focused and disciplined in all aspects of his life. He applied these skills to develop a successful business and again when confronted with GIST.
Soon after his diagnosis, Ueli realized that Switzerland had very little organized support to offer individuals with GIST. He made it his mission to create the Swiss GIST patient support group liaising with The Life Raft Group in the United States and Das Lebenshaus in Germany. The subsequent website and annual GIST conference in Zurich (the sixth conference will be held on April 24, 2009) are a credit to Ueli’s hard work and determination. Ueli may have retired professionally, but his wholehearted involvement with his GIST activities became a timeconsuming part-time job. He did not see it as a burden, but rather as an opportunity to help others during his lifetime and as a chance to establish his legacy.
Ueli and his wife Helga did not let GIST define the course of their life together. They shared many diverse interests and activities. Since 2001, Ueli and Helga have completed three voyages around the world, visiting numerous countries for months at a time. Ueli, true to form, did his homework thoroughly before each trip, learning about the culture and history of the various places on their itinerary. He possessed a keen interest in trying to understand people and came to their assistance when needed by sharing part of his story with them. Ueli was passionate about music; he regularly attended classical music concerts in Luzern and Zurich. Actively hiking in the hills and mountains near his home or a stroll by the lake were daily pleasures. Spending time with his large circle of family and friends was another favorite pastime and provided much amusement, excellent food, wine and numerous cherished memories for all.
It was easy to forget that Ueli had been battling GIST for nine years. He packed a multitude of activities into a day, a week, a month and always looked forward to the next trip, concert, or friendly gathering. Ueli is going to be missed by many while his “joie de vivre” (enjoyment of life) will continue to inspire us all.