A Blessing in Disguise?

Neuroendocrine Cancer patient sits on ledge in mountainsYou might be genuinely surprised to hear someone call their neuroendocrine cancer “a blessing in disguise.” But that is how David Van Bibber sees it. Since his 2010 diagnosis at the age of 32, David’s priorities and perspectives have changed. As a result, he has invested more deeply in his health, his family, and his community. Now he is reaping the rewards of that investment and finding daily joy in his life.

“I was in the motion of life and I think cancer has allowed me to be so much more intentional,” said David, “I’m tackling life; I am making the most of it.”

How can someone with cancer be so joyful?

David’s medical history is like many people with NETs: surgeries, ablations, chemotherapy, and rounds of PRRT abroad. He has good days and bad days. But he always focuses on making the most of every day God has given him.

In 2011, David reached a turning point. “I realized this is going to be a marathon and if I am going to persevere through it, I am going to need to have joy through it.”

David has learned to focus his thoughts, energy, and actions on living for what matters most. It is a holistic approach involving his soul, mind, and body.

The power of knowledge

Intellectually, David has a great thirst for knowledge about neuroendocrine cancer. He attends patient education conferences and reads reliable web-based resources on advances in care. “You have to be your own patient navigator,” said David. “I have to be in charge of this cancer.”

David takes charge of his cancer by being at the center of the treatment planning process. He values and nurtures his relationship with his care team with the goal of achieving the best possible clinical outcomes. But he also bounces treatment planning decisions around with others.

The Help of Others

Early in his journey, he got involved with a local NET patient support group. Today he heads up the group. Spending time with others facing the disease has always helped him. “There is something about hearing from someone who is a step ahead or five steps ahead of me in their journey that is so helpful,” said David. His activity in the NET community has helped him identify trusted sources of information—whether it be other individuals with NETs or physician experts who he can talk to about the pros and cons of different treatment options.

“You have to plot your steps and cross-check it,” he says. “Don’t just go to one person. Keep reaching out until you feel really good about a decision—when all of your research and input are pointing in that direction.”

Serving and believing

Through the years, David has seen people face cancer in many ways. He believes patients do best when they are educated, involved, and empowered. In his leadership role with the local support group, he helps others work towards “owning” their illness. “When I can serve others, it spurs them on, but I am also finding reward and fulfillment, giving me purpose to persevere.”

David’s Christian faith has also helped him thrive. David finds support and fellowship in his church family. By attending worship services and meeting with church elders, he finds wisdom and inspiration to stay on the track he set for himself to stay positive and not go to a dark, deep place.

Health & Balance

David and his soon look into camera after swimming in riverOver the last six months, David has worked with a health coach to identify and reduce stressors in his life. To improve his overall health, David tries to be as active as possible, stretching, walking, and getting outdoors. He took his son camping recently, “It was tiring and tough,” he said. “But I pushed through it and found it very rewarding.”

This one-on-one time with his son is one way David is an intentional father following his cancer diagnosis. He says in surprise and delight that he “never fathomed his kids loving and respecting him like they do in their teen years.”

It is one of many rewards he now realizes from working towards physical, spiritual, social, and psychological balance. “Live for what matters to you and what you value to keep surviving and thriving,” he says. “There is a better way to live through this cancer.”

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Betty

God bless you, David. You are an inspiration!

JoAnn

I love your beautiful words. I feel the same way .. I was diagnosed with NET in 2013 and I cherish every day more than I did before. I find God’s blessings more now in all things …. flowers, birds , a sunrise …. smiles from those I meet with my smile ! God is good … my diagnosis has helped
me cherish everyday on a simpler and deeper level. I Love more deeply and enjoy life in all I do… .. not stressed by little things that used to stress me. Many blessings to you!

Carol

God is good all the time. He is the friend Who helps us manage the daily crosses in our lives.

Margie

Dear David,
You and your family continue to point to Him! Your article was beautiful!
We continue to pray for you as your journey this road. Welove you!!!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in. Hope”

Brian

Wow! What a way to face the challenges and it is an inspiring way to live this life.

Bette Mae

I am constantly amazed at your faith and the joy that it brings. You have no idea how many times I have watched you raise your hands in worship and surrender and how much that touches me and makes me think about how I am living my life. We love you David and your journey has been an inspiration to many and we lift you up every day Brother. How AWESOME it is to know that regardless of what is going on in our bodies we can rest in the knowledge that He created us for such a time as… Read more »

Bethany

In the face of recently learning about three known NET mets, this is a good reminder to focus on the refocus of what really matters. Thanks for sharing your story.

A Blessing in Disguise?