The discovery of a diagnosis of cancer takes us through various different stages, which are the same as those that a patient passes through as he nears death. It starts with denial – “impossible!” – and ends with acceptance. At this stage there is the possibility of rebuilding our lives and changing, while still living with the disease on a day-to-day basis.

Acceptance – for me that means trying to live as positively and naturally as possible by thinking of cancer as a friend and not as an enemy!

How? Simplify your life by obeying your physician’s orders, that is, take your drugs every day by thinking of them as your companions who are going to do you good. The side-effects will happen. That is tough! Grin and bear these too. A severe cramp is of course painful, but you know it won’t last long! Edema and a pale complexion, they’re not serious, sun tans are no longer trendy!

It will also be a matter of finding out about your disease and not passively awaiting the information your physician will provide you. Look on the internet but be careful and selective, since the best may border on the worst …Participate in GIST conferences and do not hesitate to ask questions. The more you know about your disease, the easier it will be to live with.

But of course we must not forget about living …indulge yourself! Take that trip you have always dreamed about, treat yourself to small presents, put yourself first!

Get enough sleep, eat healthily, and be more active; these three rules should become high priority. Think about your spirituality, not because it prepares you for death but because it helps you to live!

Finally, try a very simple exercise. Take a sheet of paper, compile two columns, one for the pluses, one for the minuses, then note down what you have lost from this disease and what you have gained by searching honestly deep down inside yourself. And you will probably then discover that one column is immediately fuller than the other!

In this way I hope you will be able to say: I have a new friend: my GIST!