Living and Loving Life with Incurable Cancer

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On June 1st 2017, I was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer. I was 37 years old, a mother of two young boys, a college professor, and living a beautiful life. After weeks of blood tests, scans, and biopsies, my husband, sister, and I faced the oncologist and heard the word “cancer.” This doctor had an interesting way of delivering the news, though. He said, “I have good news and bad news. Bad news is that it IS cancer. Good news is that you have the good cancer. It is stage 4 and incurable, but you are going to live a long time.”

What the hell is a good cancer first of all?! That is the biggest oxymoron ever, but man was I happy to hear that! Second, there is nothing good about stage 4 incurable cancer so what was he talking about?!

After going over the plan of action, I honestly left the hospital jumping up and down. I was the happiest newly diagnosed cancer patient ever. I almost felt bad I had it so good. The treatment seemed like a piece of cake and I felt just fine despite a few symptoms that were totally manageable.

But of course, it is never that easy. For me, knowing that I have an advanced cancer, even though it is slow growing and well-behaved for now, takes a toll on my mental and emotional well-being more so than physically. Thankfully, I am able to live a full active life (with a few minor adjustments), take care of my family, work part-time, and enjoy life as much as I possibly can. The biggest challenge so far has been controlling my thoughts that, from time to time, divert to a dark place. I am working on focusing on the good things, which there are plenty of, and redirecting negative thoughts out of my mind. So far, after a few treatments, things have been going smoothly. I am here for the long run, so I am crossing my fingers for the tumors to remain stable for a lot longer before more action is necessary.

By Paola Palmieri