Not all Cancer is simple

Not all Cancer is simple
Not all Cancer is simple

So Victoria Derbyshire has breast cancer and has used her ‘workplace’ as a platform to let people know she is a determined survivor. Nothing wrong with that, it’s great cancer awareness for some and inspiration for others (including me). However, reading through various newspaper follow-up articles, blogs and social media comments, I can see criticism by many for producing an over simplified message (see picture below).  Although many of us will be wishing it was so, not all cancer is simple!

victoriaTake Neuroendocrine Cancer for example. For some, this ‘silent’ cancer can take years to be finally diagnosed whilst the patient is misdiagnosed with other conditions often with debilitating symptoms. Once diagnosed, surgery (if it’s possible) is just one of a number of treatment options and it will often be multiple times.  Follow on treatments include an array of biochemical and nuclear options. If the disease is metastatic, which it frequently is due to its years of ‘silence’, then the condition normally becomes incurable and the patient will be treated for the forseeable future, very often with a reduced quality of life. Victoria might not think she had a fight but for many others, this is a particularly apt word – especially those who can never be sure the cancer has gone.

I’m not suggesting that well-known people shouldn’t make their cancer experience public – in fact I’m all for that!

Get well soon Victoria, I really mean that.

17 thoughts on “Not all Cancer is simple

  • Diana

    A little late to the party, came across this very informative information. I think of myself as an NET living-survivor, meaning I am living with my cancer (since it isn’t curable) and surviving each day’s surprises that come with the disease!

  • Chris

    So, I had a carcinoid taken out of my eye orbit and intestines, I’ve had scans for almost a year with no sign of tumors returning, what is that considered?

    • It’s not an exact science Chris and I don’t know your full history etc (particularly grade and stage). Carcinoid is notorious for being sneaky. Generally it is not an aggressive or dangerous disease. However, even low grade tumours can spread by invading surrounding tissue and sending ‘seedlings’ (metastases) to grow in distant areas. Metastatic carcinoid is generally incurable and the patient should be under surveillance perhaps with treatment for the foreseeable future. I’ve been stable for 3 years but I know I have tumours in my body. I also know others will probably appear at some stage (currently too small to see and benign enough to hide). Live your life but keep in contact with your doctors and listen to your body.

  • Susan

    Neuro endocrine cancer is simply managed. It is not cured. We will die from this cancer. Period. Unless we get hit by a truck first which I guess is possible since most of us live with cancer for months or years after our diagnosis. Other than that we should be planning our deaths as much as we enjoy and celebrate each dawn. We don’t control the storm but we do control how we set our sails. Have fun everyone because life is a hell of a ride!

  • I agree on the oversimplification theme of your post. In fact, I’ve always had a problem when I see people say they are carcinoid cancer or neuroendocrine cancer survivors. No such thing since our cancer is NOT curable. Maybe we should make that part of our awareness efforts. Neuroendocrine cancer and carcinoid cancer is not curable and can currently only be “managed” until the battle is lost and death occurs. To harsh?

  • Not sure of what to make of the article, I think it makes the disease sound to simple and straightforward to treat, and in turn will upset many who have been and are going through a similar experience. But you have to admire her positivity.

    I wish her a speedy recovery.

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