November 1, 2023
By Anne Dabbs,
NCAN TN Support Group Leader, NET Patient
“Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds” —Osho
Whether you have met other Neuroendocrine patients in support groups, at patient conferences, or via social media, our life is enriched by finding these individuals who “get you” and can understand your challenges. Our friendships are formed by a common ailment and then are strengthened by our support of one another. I am constantly amazed at the even tiniest displays of support that can uplift a hurting heart and encourage the patient forward and upward from their lowest point. It has been uplifting to me these past several years to meet and converse with other patients who have also learned that sometimes solace can be found among your sorrow.
I have learned so much from others who are positive, yet realistic; supportive but not overbearing; grateful despite our disease.
Opinions and determinations that I have learned from our community have taught me to not identify my cancer as cured or healing, instead I focus on livable and manageable. Many of us diagnosed at Stage 4 lived with our disease, innocently, for years and years. I try not to live my live “short” by dwelling on all the real or potential negatives, and instead focus on living each day to the best of my abilities.
I am encouraged when fellow patients share their realization that they have learned to let go of the things they can’t control and have adjusted their expectations of a perceived future to find the joy in their current situation. Patients share that relationships become more meaningful. Their priorities become clearer. They try hard to no longer sweat the small stuff. They become more empathetic to other’s misfortunes.
I like to think that these individuals have also made peace with their everyday. Learning to live happily and positively within their reality is fuel for gratitude and thanksgiving.
Some days it seems impossible to stay positive in the face of our many medical and physical and emotional challenges. Self-care days are necessary and encouraged. It is important to balance those days needed to recharge your body and mind with your functional days to set a manageable routine. This can help keep you motivated and positive.
A positive attitude can be cultivated. I work at it every single day. My melancholy moods have a time and a place in my life, but they have no place when I need to be at my most productive. My fellow Neuroendocrine friends are teaching me to frame my thoughts into a positive outlook as often as I can.
Multiple studies have shown that a positive attitude is a foundation for gratitude. Conversely, gratitude and thankfulness reinforce a positive attitude. Science tells us that gratitude is beneficial for us!
Those who cultivate gratitude are shown to have improved heart health and improved sleep patterns. Gratitude for simple pleasures can help to reduce depression, lessen anxiety, and relieve stress. Gratitude and thanksgiving also allow us to refocus on what we have instead of what we lack. With a mindset of gratitude and thankfulness, we begin to see the positivity in our lives. That positivity translates into happiness, contentment, and confidence.
When the odds seem against us and we become overwhelmed with life in general and our Neuroendocrine Cancer in particular, please try to think of the friends who have reached out to you with encouragement and understanding. Look for the bright spots wherever you can. Hold onto them and then be ready to share when another patient needs your helping hand.
And remember, NCAN is always HERE to lend you a helping hand.
Disclaimer: NCAN blog posts are the opinions of its writers and are not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Please consult your Health Care Providers for individual concerns.