At 75 years old, acclaimed Finnish musical theater actress Sinikka Sokka has confronted various health issues in recent years. However, her positive spirit and determination to keep pursuing her passion have allowed Sokka to recover and resume her prolific career. As she prepares to star in an upcoming production of Cabaret, Sokka reflects on the challenges she’s faced and the support that has kept her going strong.
Fighting Through Exhaustion and Joint Pain
In 2021, Sokka contracted a severe case of COVID-19 that left her struggling with prolonged fatigue and weakness. Just as she was recovering from the virus’s after-effects, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick. This caused agonizing joint pain and inflammation throughout her entire body.
For many people, these back-to-back illnesses may have spelled the end of performing. However, the perpetually spirited Sokka was not going to give up that easily. She found an effective antibiotic regimen and also got her blood pressure medication adjusted to ease side effects. Sokka credits her return to health to finally finding the right treatments as well as support from her close inner circle.
The Healing Power of Work
While still battling Lyme disease, Sokka took on the role of Empress Maria Fyodorovna in the musical Anastasia. Though rehearsals and over 160 performances were grueling given her health issues, the excitement of being back on stage hastened Sokka’s recovery.
“The importance of the work community cannot be underestimated,” Sokka notes. Her castmates and the creative team buoyed her up on difficult days and made sure she had everything needed to excel in the role while also caring for herself. Sokka believes the joy and purpose of doing what she loves best played a huge part in getting her strength back.
Staying Upbeat Through It All
Even when facing daunting diagnoses, Sokka’s upbeat attitude never faltered. “Aging involves losses, but there is comfort in all one has experienced,” she reflects. Sokka acknowledges the physical challenges that come with age, but focuses her energy on things she can control like her outlook and relationships.
Sokka also reminds herself that life consists of ups and downs. She celebrates the happy moments fully and allows herself to mourn losses, while anticipating brighter days ahead. “If your feet are still carrying you, avoid dragging them or babbling negatively,” she advises. This forward-looking perspective keeps Sokka feeling young at heart.
The Power of Longtime Friendships
As she aged, Sokka deeply missed close friends like actress Tarleena Sammalkorpi who passed away. But she finds comfort in decades-long friendships, realizing how much they anchor her. “When loved ones leave, notice how merciful a long friendship is,” Sokka reflects.
Sokka is especially grateful for friends who have walked alongside her for 30 or 40 years and seen her through illness. A few loyal, cherished friends can provide the love and laughter needed to overcome almost any health hurdle. Sokka emphasizes the importance of nurturing these relationships rather than taking them for granted.
Learning to Ask for Help
As an independent spirit, Sokka has always prided herself on her competence and work ethic. However, her health struggles taught her the importance of asking for help when she needs it. Whether relying on friends for a ride or having a castmate tie her shoes, Sokka learned how meaningful small acts of care can be.
While still remaining fiercely autonomous, Sokka now better understands the role community plays in healing. She can depend on trusted friends to lend an ear on the bad days while respecting her undiminished abilities on the good days. Asking for and accepting assistance enabled Sokka to save energy for performing.
Finding the Right Doctors
Sokka credits her doctors, especially the insightful specialist who adjusted her medications correctly, for getting her health back on track. However, it took perseverance to find practitioners who listened closely and treated her body holistically.
“When you’re a solo person living alone, you need a doctor who sees your whole self,” Sokka notes. She urges women particularly to be their own advocates in seeking competent, compassionate care tailored to their needs. The right medical support system can make all the difference.
Gratitude Through the Highs and Lows
While the last few years held challenges, Sokka focuses on blessings like her family and rewarding work. “There is also a lot of comforting in aging,” she remarks, finding perspective through life’s ups and downs. Sokka also has learned to appreciate small joys more fully, from mornings with coffee to evenings with friends.
By concentrating on what she can control and remainingfuture-focused, Sokka continues defying expectations about aging. She acknowledges her limitations but refuses to be defined by them. Sokka’s courage and grace in overcoming health struggles exemplify the power of mindset to overcome setbacks. Her name in lights is proof that the show can go on against all odds.