Carcinoid and Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor Cancer Survivors Share Their Journeys

The Carcinoid Cancer Foundation is pleased to announce the addition of several new Survivor Stories on its website,  These are stories of courageous carcinoid and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (NET) survivors who, in several cases, experienced pain and illness for many years before being correctly diagnosed.  Meet Tracy, Lindsey, Aki, Carolyn, Lisa, and Kari.  They serve as inspirations to other NET cancer patients, those who are newly diagnosed and those living with these rare diseases for many years.  Their stories also bring hope, an essential factor on the journey of living with cancer.

Lisa Pawlak and her son, JoshuaLisa Pawlak was diagnosed with atypical lung carcinoid two weeks after her younger son, Jonah, started kindergarten. “I had lost my own mother, also a non-smoker, to lung cancer right before getting pregnant with Jonah.  As a result, when I was first diagnosed, I feared the worst.  I feared that I might not be around to send my boys back to school in the future.” Surgery followed with the removal of half of her left lung.  Fortunately, there had been no metastasis.  It’s now two years later and, in her beautifully written and moving story, Lisa (pictured with older son, Joshua) reflects upon being a carcinoid survivor. “So I take a deep breath, because I can – and I simply hope.  Because for me, what does matter is hope. . . . I take an even deeper breath.  Hope matters, and so I hope for the thing that matters to me most.  I hope that next year I will still be here as my boys once again go back to school.  I hope to send them off with new, though generic-brand, shoes on their growing feet, and with unsharpened pencils tucked away in their not-so-perfect, crumpled-up-paper-filled, slightly-gooey-crumb-bottom-lined, backpacks.”

Tracy Krulik was formerly a fundraiser and musician, now she describes herself as “the CEO of my health.”  Tracy Krulik's Journey: I Have Cancer. And I've Never Felt Better.She spends her time “fighting cancer, writing, teaching, practicing Pilates, putting ridiculous amounts of miles on my road bike, growing vegetables and cooking fresh, plant-based meals.”  A pancreatic NET survivor, Tracy was diagnosed in 2007.  Read more about her journey in her book, I Have Cancer. And I’ve Never Felt Better.

Lindsey Miller’s  blog,  i am a liver,  chronicles her journey as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (pNET) “liver.”  She is 26 and is pursuing a master’s degree in urban planning. Lindsey was diagnosed in October 2010, just after her 25th birthday. “With cancer,” writes Lindsey, “there are generally three categories of living patients:  those in treatment, those in remission, and those who have been cancer-free for many years (survivors).  I don’t fit fully into any of these categories so I made up a new one:  I am a liver.”  A very gutsy young lady, Lindsey took an amazing leap recently.  Check out her YouTube video!

In 1992 Carolyn Woolman was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer.  After two years on chemotherapy she requested another biopsy and found out that she had carcinoid cancer.  Extensive surgery, chemoembolizations, and chemotherapy were used to treat Carolyn for carcinoid tumors in her liver, stomach, and small bowel.  She credits carcinoid/NET specialist Dr. Edward Wolin, Co-Director of the Cedars-Sinai Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Tumor Program in Los Angeles, California, with saving her life.  “It is now 2011 and I remain cancer free . . . To say that I am blessed to have found Dr. Wolin would be such an understatement. He not only saved my life but has given me years to make memories with my friends and family. I never thought I would live to see 40 and now I am 66.  I am active in my grandkids’ school and try to appreciate every day.”

Master Sergeant Aki A. Summers has been with the US Air Force for 18.5 years and is currently serving on Active Duty in the Republic of Korea.  She was diagnosed this past January with carcinoid in the small intestine. She has written two articles that she would like to share with others in the carcinoid/NET and broader cancer communities:  Commentary — Overcoming a life-ending disease: Cancer and Nutrition Can Help Battle Cancer.

Master Sergeant Aki Summers

Also watch a new video, released on November 10, Worldwide NET Cancer Awareness Day,  created by carcinoid survivor Kari Jones to help bring about greater awareness of carcinoid and NET cancers.  Humor, strength, adventure, hope — this is Kari’s story. To learn more about Kari,  visit her website, My Carcinoid Story.

Read these amazing stories as well as the blogs and stories of other carcinoid and neuroendocrine cancer survivors.  Click Here to be inspired by many exceptional men and women.

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