“Carcinoid cancer. Stage IV. Six months to a year, two if you’re lucky.”
Stunned, I started to prepare myself, and my family and friends, for the worst. We were to face the biggest demon any of us had ever known.
I thought I knew what to expect from death. I watched several people succumb to cancer and other health issues over several years before. It was a taste of what was yet to come. I felt that I had feasted at others’ tables with Lucifer himself.
Three years have passed. Thankfully, I am not in the same place that I was during those first few weeks after my diagnosis. But, I have to admit, as I come up on the anniversaries, I get a bit freaked out. If nothing else, it is unsettling. I do not do it in doomsday fashion, as I refuse to give it more energy than is absolutely necessary. But I can find myself going down a rabbit hole and reliving those weeks leading up to hearing the actual diagnosis, and the events that took place afterward.
That serves no one, especially me.
When we are facing challenges that seem to consume us, it is unrealistic to think that we can just ignore them away by refusing to address them. Whether health concerns, issues at work, personal tests, divorce, insurmountable bills, or any other problems that seem to be dropped in front of us, we MUST be willing to look at it realistically.
Refusing to see things, as they are, is just as dangerous as jumping into the pit of negativity. It equates so often to sticking our heads in the sand of denial.
Every day of my life, I recognize the need to be prepared. I learned early on in life to “hope for the best; be prepared for the worst.” These skills have served me well, encountering many different scenarios throughout life.
Some people may certainly see this as giving focus to the bad. I see it, however, as being realistic enough to understand what may on the other side and having a direction. Of course, one must be able to embrace balance.
Standing up to take on the demons we encounter is not easy, but it is necessary. If we are not willing to do so, we allow our fears to lie to us, and down the rabbit hole of doom and gloom we go.
Facing the demons
I wish I could forget that carcinoid cancer ever existed in my life. I wish there was some potion for me to swallow to make it go away. I wish that a fairy godmother could wave her wand and life was magically transformed into something that what it is at any given moment. This goes for more than only a cancer diagnosis.
The biggest demons any of us face are not cancer or other illnesses. They are not a bad boss, an unrelenting ex-spouse, or rebellious teenager. They are not the circumstances that we encounter that are beyond our control.
The monster that we face each day is the person we see in the mirror. Our demons might very well be how we look at each situation. How we react to others and the challenges we face, given our beliefs, values, and habits, do not always serve us well.
I try each day to eliminate my knee-jerk reactions to things I face. I am not always very effective. In fact, sometimes I fail miserably.When I am in reaction mode, I give
up my power to that (and others) which is making life inconvenient, annoying, or even painful.
Looking to the future
I am grateful for life itself, and for the last three years I have learned things that came from being diagnosed with cancer. It represents every single challenge in life that I have faced and thought I would never survive. I celebrate the people who have come in (and out) of my life.
I look forward to many more years to come, armed with more knowledge than I (or the general surgeon) had three years ago this afternoon. And I live my life, in spite of the people and the issues that try to make it difficult for me, or when they decide they want me to give up.
I have said many times over the last several years, “We are all in the war together, and the war is LIFE. It is our battles which are different, and each make us unique (though we can relate).”
I am not dying from cancer. I am LIVING WITH cancer.
What are YOU living with?
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- The Carcinoid Cancer Foundation
- Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness Network (NCAN) — Formerly Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network (CCAN)
- Caring for Carcinoid Foundation
- Carcinoid.com (Site provided by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation)