Some employees of the UMCG received the Bas beer yesterday afternoon. It’s a specialty beer that Bas’ friends brewed to honor their friend. Bas died of cancer in September 2020. He was 22 years old.
She often receives letters of thanks, with patients and their loved ones expressing how they have appreciated her support. ,,We look back on a painfully good time”, says Karen van der Ploeg (41). According to her, a tangible thank you is quite unique, just like it Drunk Lullabies- beer in memory of Bas Bullens (1998 – 2020) is intended.
Van der Ploeg is a psychologist at the oncology department of the UMCG. The most beautiful work, she says. “It’s never more about life than when death is so close.”
‘It’s a lonely quest’
She calls the fact that she and her colleague – doctor Birgitta Hiddinga – and the oncology department receive the beer for Bas this afternoon from Bas’ mother and two of his friends as a touching gesture. Bas passed away in 2020. I experience someone in the heat of battle and then people disappear from the picture.
Not so Bas’ mother. Van der Ploeg calls her once in a while. “It is an incredible task to find meaning in life after such a loss. It’s a lonely quest and her relationship with Bas remains, only that love hurts so damned now that he’s gone.”
She finds it impressive that Bas’ mother dares to take the step to the hospital. That must be difficult, she says.
Their friend deserved a special beer
,,This morning I thought: what have I started”, says Bianca Leijrik (56), mother of Bas. At the UMCG, she and Nicholas Milner and Daniël Bloemendal, 24-year-old boys, have been friends with Bas and beer brewers for fun since high school. During Bas’ funeral, they thought that their friend deserved a special beer.
They baptized it Drunk Lullabies , because Bas gave that Flogging Molly song so amazingly during his graduation presentation. Just as Bas left his savings to the KWF, they donate the proceeds of the Bas beer to Kika. The counter is at 5,000 euros. Bas’ mother thought that she wanted to thank the people of the UMCG with the beer.
,,Bas was special, he had charisma and willpower. He managed to get the music teacher to buy a left-handed banjo”, recalls Nicholas.
Back pain during his last year of college
,,Bas was a beautiful, smart and social child”, his mother recalls. “Very interested in history.” He wanted to work in a museum and found his feet at the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam, where he studied cultural heritage. He lived in rooms in Utrecht.
He was in his last year when he came to his mother in Slagharen one day and talked about back pain. “It was severe back pain,” remembers his mother, who sent him to the physiotherapist and then to the doctor. He heard something strange about his lungs and referred him to the hospital in Hardenberg. The lung x-rays caused panic and Bas had to go to the UMCG immediately.
“There was bad news after bad news,” says his mother. ,, He turned out to have a bizarre large tumor in his left chest. It was an aggressive tumor and they did their best in the hospital, but it felt like you were trying to stop a truck on your own trying to stop it.”
Sunday morning breakfast was sacred
Bas held out hope, continued to joke, but when the doctors decided after a number of chemotherapy treatments that further treatment was no longer useful, he died at home a week and a half later.
The lively, eccentric Bas is gone – his friends still think it’s unreal. They burst into laughter as they reminisce about him. They think he would have started a meme museum or worked in a war museum. They tell with affection how he always got up early after a night out to have breakfast with his mother.
Sunday morning breakfast was sacred to him. Eating ciabatta together, with roast beef and pesto and eggs,” says his mother. “I have never eaten it since he passed away. I can’t do that.” She says: ,,I often wonder: are you still somewhere? I hope so.”
Drunken Lullabies is a dark and strong beer that tastes sweet, burning and full, according to the brewers of Brewery 42. That sweet tone is because it has a dash of vodka in it, because Bas was fascinated by Russia. The proceeds of the specialty beer benefit the Children Cancer Free Foundation (KiKa).