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  • Writer's pictureBurt Rosen

I am sooooooo lucky! (I bet you weren't expecting that!)

Here's the thing. I have cancer. It sucks. But, I want to focus this post on all the ways I consider myself lucky. I am learning a ton, about myself, about others, and about the world. (and I've decided that I will not be capitalizing the word cancer, it doesn't deserve to be a proper noun).

I am learning who I am, what I care about, and how to maximize my good days while getting through my bad days. I am learning to allow myself to feel. It's okay for me to be in a bad mood, stressed, worried, anxious, or otherwise. And people who try to help me "get over" those feelings are missing the point. I am allowed to feel what I feel and hold space for those feelings. I am also lucky in that I am still as active as possible, eating a great diet that's mostly healthy, doing yoga a few times a week, and planning adventures for the future.

I am learning that cancer hasn't been cured. So for everyone out there who wants to criticize a modality of healthcare, choices that people make, differences in treatments, or what a patient decides to do for themselves, try to keep an open mind. cancer is a puzzle that hasn't been solved yet so there is no reason not to try everything. If it works for the patient, it should be celebrated regardless of what it is (and it doesn't mean it will work for all patients). Data comes in many forms, don't be so quick to discount anecdotal forms of data.

I am learning that, although cancer is a full-time job, it can't be a full-time job. For starters, we all need jobs, this shit isn't cheap! On top of that, I think you need to be a person who happens to have cancer as opposed to a cancer patient. What do I mean? There are a lot of things I love that have nothing to do with Cancer. I need to keep doing those things if I am able and not let my disease define who I am and everything about me.

I have learned to be my own advocate and to rely on others around me to help. It's your body, and your mind, and if you don't want something say no, if you don't understand something ask about it and if you have new ideas, bring them up. If you don't want to talk to someone on the phone, say not now, don't see people you don't want to see, and don't waste your time on things that don't give you joy and happiness. You aren't a victim, you are an equal (and even more so) partner with your medical and support teams. Act like it. Don't let the world just do things to you.

I learned that it's important to find a great team. I have a medical oncologist who specializes in NETs, a NET specialist surgeon, nurses, a genetic counselor, a nutritionist, naturopath, financial counselors, social workers, etc. All are top-notch and teach me a lot (I like to think I help teach them too). All are critical in their areas and in making sure that we are addressing Burt and Burt's cancer and not just generic cancer.

There will be more on this topic over time. But I wanted to get this post started for now.

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