World's oldest person killed by cancer

2nd September 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 September 2005, AMSTERDAM — Dutchwoman Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, who held the title of the oldest person in the world, died this week as the result of stomach cancer.

2 September 2005

AMSTERDAM — Dutchwoman Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, who held the title of the oldest person in the world, died this week as the result of stomach cancer.

She passed away peacefully at the age of 115 years and two months in a care home in the north-eastern town of Hoogeveen on Tuesday morning. 

Van Andel-Schipper decided to leave her body to science when she was 82.

Professor Gert Holstege of the UMC university hospital in Groningen has carried out a preliminary examination of the body. He revealed on Friday that she had not died of a "typical older person's sickness" but apparently as a result of a tumour in her stomach.

The cancer was not discovered earlier although she had frequent medical checks. "So you can imagine we were totally surprised," Holstege said.

"We never heard her complain even though she must have noticed something," he said.

The tumour taken from the woman's body was the size of a small fist and Holstege said it would have killed her no matter what. "Even if we had detected it earlier. This was a tumour that would have killed you or me."

Van Andel-Schipper was born in the small Dutch town of Smilde in 1890 and she celebrated her 115th birthday on 29 June this year.

She held the title of oldest Dutch person ever since 26 September 2003 and was officially recognised as the oldest person in the world since 30 May 2004.

Ironically, Hendrikje (Henny) Schipper was a very premature baby. Her mother is said to have remarked "this child is not going to live" when she was handed her daughter. The child weighed 1,500 grams.

She did survive and met the love of her life, Dick van Andel, at the age of 46 in 1936. Three years later she married him and became Henny Van Andel-Schipper.

She described it as the "best day of my life" in interviews with the media. "Afterwards we paid a ten-cent piece each for a cup of coffee in a cafe and then he went back to the office and I went home".

The couple did not have any children and Dick died in 1959. Henny lived on her own in a flat in Hoogeveen until the age of 106.

"And what did I do to reach this age? I breathe, nothing more.  That isn't such a big deal," she said on the day she was officially recognised as the oldest woman in the world.

She did expand later on her recipe for reaching a ripe old age: "don't smoke and don't drink to much alcohol. Just a small advocaat (egg-nog) with cream Sundays and feast-days. And you must remain active".

Henny's death deprives the Dutch Royal Family and Amsterdam football club Ajax of their biggest fans.

Van Andel-Schipper celebrated the coronation of the late Queen Wilhelmina in 1898 and the coronation of Wilhelmina's granddaughter Beatrix a hundred years later.

A delegation from Ajax called to see Henny on her 114th birthday in recognition of her long support for the team.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news + world's oldest person + Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper

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