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NET Cancer Day   10 November 2023

Easily missed.Take a closer look at Neuroendocrine Cancer.

 #LetsTalkAboutNETs    #NETCancerDay

I had a simple red spot on my face. It grew rather quickly and in 6 weeks it was a serious lump.
PATIENT
Mariska (Netherlands)

My name is Mariska Masselink, I live in the Netherlands. My age is 53. I love walking my dog, a wonderful Dachshund, reading, and going on holidays.

How were you diagnosed and how long did it take? 

I had a simple red spot on my face. It grew rather quickly and in 6 weeks it was a serious lump. I went to my GP and asked if she could cut it out. She sent me to a private clinic instead for a biopsy. In a week the diagnosis was given – Merkel cell carcinoma. I had surgery, the tumor was removed and they took some lymph nodes. Unfortunately, there was a metastasis in my lymph nodes, so they removed the lymph nodes in my neck.

What treatment have you had and how did it affect you then and now?

After the surgery, I had radiation 25 times. The scar on my face was big and very white, so I had a few sessions in which I had a medical tattoo to colour my scar.

The surgery of the lymph nodes in my neck destroyed my salivary glands, this affects my taste, my teeth and it makes my mouth very dry.

What impact has the diagnosis had on your personal life ?

It divided my life into before and after cancer. I only plan a year in advance, maximum. It makes me grateful for every day, but I lived like that already. We don’t postpone nice plans.

What lessons have you learnt along the way (if any)?

You can make big plans for your life, but in the end your control is limited!

Who’s been your hero? Perhaps it was you!

My former GP, her swift actions are why I’m still alive. If it wasn’t on my face, but on my arm for example, it wouldn’t have crossed my mind to visit my GP! And I’m married to the most understanding and sweet man in the world!

Did you get any help from a patient organization during your journey?

Yes, Stichting NETNECkanker had a lot of information, even on my rare form of cancer.

How are you now? 

I’m fine. Every four months I get my blood checked with tumour markers and I hope there won’t be any metastases for a long period of time!

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NETs are more common than brain, ovarian, and cervical cancer and incidence is on the rise.

We need the help of our global community to raise awareness and improve diagnostic times and the quality of life for NET patients around the world.

On November 10, help us spread the word

Know the symptoms. Push for diagnosis. #LetsTalkAboutNETs