by Stacie Chevrier, NET Cancer Blogger
Every Sunday on the O Network’s Super Soul Sunday, Oprah asks her guest, “What do you know for sure?” This question has stayed with me and my answers stem from my diagnosis of a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor in 2014.
However, before diving in, it’s important I preface this post by declaring that being diagnosed with a Neuroendocrine Tumor is awful. The pain and suffering proceeding this disease are real. I do not want to discount anyone’s experience, so please know that I see you and all of us impacted by this disease see you.
What I know for sure is that cancer will be the greatest teacher of my life. The lessons are vast, innumerable, and constantly evolving. Those that come to the top of my mind are: resilience, perseverance, humility, strength, letting go, being uncomfortable, grateful, mindful, kind and compassionate. I’m sure I would have eventually learned all these things, but cancer gave me a crash course and I am better person for it.
I know in the extensive world of cancer, I’ve got it pretty good. A slow growing disease, where patients are living decades. And not just living long – many are living well. I know NET survivors who have accomplished some incredible physical feats – marathons, triathlons, cross-country hikes, 100-mile bike rides, and scuba diving, to name a few. I know it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but I could see where those with other cancers and diseases could be envious.
I know this statement may ruffle some feathers, but I’m happy I don’t look sick. I would rather be sick, without looking sick, than be sick and look sick.
I know my doctor is the right person to lead my care team. With only a handful of true specialists, choosing a doctor isn’t too difficult. Other cancers have hundreds, if not thousands of specialists, which I would find overwhelming. With our small NETs community, it’s easy to know whether you’re in the right hands or not.
I know who my friends are and are not. Those who stood by my side are true, loving, genuine, caring people. They are the kind of humans I want in my life. I also know what a surprise it was to develop new friendships with fellow survivors with whom I share an indescribable kinship.
And what I know for sure is that every sunrise, new moon, holiday, birthday, etc. is a gift. This is true for all of us – cancer or not but living with NETs – I know it and I live it, every day.