What I Know for Sure about My Survivorship

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I wrote this piece for the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation’s June Survivorship Issue. Click here for the full eUpdate on topics including research, finding a NET specialist, living with NETs and more. Thank you to NETRF for the important work they do.

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 is 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 of 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, scuba diving, to name a few. I know it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but I could see where 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 humSians 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, everyday.

 

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‘Life After Cancer’ Podcast

lifeaftercancerBack in November, I had the pleasure of talking with breast cancer survivor, Jenna Schneur, on her ‘Life After Cancer’ podcast. We chatted about what it’s like managing chronic NET cancer, walking the Camino de Santiago 6-months post treatment, how to be uncomfortable, Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) and the grey line separating before, during and after cancer. I hope you listen, enjoy, subscribe to her wonderful podcast and follow her on Twitter

iTunes or Podcast App
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Letting Go & Looking Forward

In March, film maker (and now friend), Rain Bennett traveled to Nashville to spend the day with me. We talked about cancer and a few of the lessons its taught me since my diagnosis in 2014. From our time together, he created this video which is one in a series called Fit to Fight sponsored by Lexicon Pharmaceuticals celebrating the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation’s 50th anniversary. I am so grateful to this organization for all it’s done for me and those impacted by Neuroendocrine Tumors.

And a huge thank you to my yoga teacher, Michelle, who runs the yoga program at Lifetime Athletica in Franklin, TN.  Coincidentally (or not) her yoga practice was born from the same yoga studio as me, in Detroit, The Center for Yoga. The teachings from this specific and unique style have (literally) saved my life.

Check it out: