Neuroendocrine – what’s that?

Neuroendocrine – what’s that?

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
Neuroendocrine??? what's that! I once met some fellow cancer advocates and the conversation turned to what inspired us to ‘do what we do’. When it came to my turn as the only Neuroendocrine Cancer patient, I was already prepared to regurgitate my usual 'spiel'. As sometimes happens, a listener queried me with the words "Neuroendocrine - what's that?".  Another focused on 'Neuro' enquiring whether my nervous system or my brain had somehow become cancerous. Deja vu - here we go again!Two days later, I was speaking to one of my online friends who was having similar problems explaining this cancer to family and friends. Again 'Neuro' was proving difficult with the assumption that it’s somehow related to the brain. Technically not far from the truth but context is really important given that most…
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The trouble with the NET (Part 2) – Alternative Therapies – what’s the harm?

The trouble with the NET (Part 2) – Alternative Therapies – what’s the harm?

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
But it works, I read it on the internet! “But it works… I read it on the internet!”You may remember my article entitled The trouble with the NET (Part 1) which was a lighthearted but still serious discussion about the dangers of self-treatment on the internet. Linked to that blog was a very popular article written by the scientists at Cancer Research UK debunking some cancer myths which seem to regularly patrol the NET and social media.Many well meaning people will send you articles they saw on the 'NET' about this and that treatment which claims to cure cancer.  They also post them on social media increasing the reach to thousands of people, some of whom are not in the right frame of mind to see the risks.  The vast…
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Chemotherapy for Neuroendocrine Cancer

Chemotherapy for Neuroendocrine Cancer

Treatment
Edited and checked February 2022One of the unusual aspects of Neuroendocrine Cancer is that chemotherapy is not normally considered as a 'standard' or first-line treatment, unlike many other cancers. One exception is high grade (Grade 3) where it is very often a first and/or second-line therapy. This is particularly the case with poorly differentiated Neuroendocrine disease, by default labelled as Neuroendocrine Carcinoma (NEC). Many people think Chemotherapy has a short life span due to recent advances in medical science, some citing Immunotherapy as its replacement. However, it's far too early to write off chemotherapy which is still used in many scenarios and remains a tool in the arsenal of treatments for many cancer types and is predicted to do for some time yet. See more informed reporting about this below.Interest point…
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Carcinoid vs Neuroendocrine

Carcinoid vs Neuroendocrine

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
OPINIONThere's a constant debate regarding the validity of the term 'Carcinoid'.  I've posted about this a few times and as far as I know, the debate has been raging for some years.EDIT MARCH 2022.  The latest classification system for Lung Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (NEN) confirms the word "carcinoid" is now a choice - the WHO Lung Committee bottled it.  I made my choice some years ago, I hope others follow suit.  Read more about changes to Lung NEN by clicking here. EDIT APRIL 2020.  The latest classification system for Neuroendocrine Neoplasms confirms the word "carcinoid" no longer forms part of the terminology used in Digestive System tumours (effectively removing the term from GEP NETs) - read more - click hereEdit May 2020.  So, what about other areas not included in GEPNETs above? Please note there…
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Cancer doesn’t take holidays (but I do)

Cancer doesn’t take holidays (but I do)

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
Glen Etive Scotland in 2018 [caption id="attachment_2911" align="alignleft" width="300"] Mt Jacinto near Palm Springs[/caption] After diagnosis in July 2010, with the exception of a planned holiday to Turkey prior to my 'big surgery', holidays were put on the back burner, there were too many problems and too many risks - not least of which was the lack of overseas insurance cover for my condition. After 2 years of treatment including several surgeries, I was feeling more confident and my body had become stronger, holidays were put back on the agenda, but nothing too strenuous, nothing too far away. We stuck to Europe over the period 2012-2014. However, in 2015, I was getting more confident and managed to get back to one of my all-time favourite places - California.  A total…
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No Fear

No Fear

Inspiration, Survivorship
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email It's that time again, every 6 months I need some checks. I've done the specialist blood test (Chromogranin A - CgA) and the 5HIAA and am waiting on my CT scan appointment. It's also time for my annual Echocardiogram. I then see my Consultant and he delivers the news.I positively look forward to my tests and I cannot wait to get into that scanner! 'Scanxiety' isn't in my dictionary.  Why? Because testing is one thing that's going to keep me alive for as long as possible.  If I don't get regularly tested, then one day I might just 'keel over' because something wasn't spotted early enough.  Even in the event…
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The trouble with the NET (Part 1) – Cancer Myths

The trouble with the NET (Part 1) – Cancer Myths

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Certain popular ideas about how cancer starts and spreads - though scientifically wrong, can seem to make sense, especially when those ideas are rooted in old theories. To a certain extent, it can be the case with treatment too. But wrong ideas about cancer can lead to needless worry and even hinder good prevention and treatment decisions.In one study, a surprising 40% of Americans believe cancer can be cured solely through alternative therapies, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)’s second annual National Cancer Opinion Survey.  In a similar study in UK, the NHS blamed social media for the spread of fake healthcare news.  Unfortunately, social media 'misinformation' includes 'alleged' cures for various ailments including cancer.  I think we've all been there, we check twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc and…
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Exercise is Medicine

General
  I suspect we all know exercise is good for us but it does sometimes take quite a bit of effort to get out there and do some! Apparently the older you get, the harder it becomes (I can confirm this is true!).  I did write about this in 2014 (Exercise - it's a free prescription).  In fact, my blog  was actually created to document my return to fitness and good health 12 months ago! I was prompted to write this blog after discovering a piece of advice for NET Cancer patients, specifically those with carcinoid syndrome. The advice is one of those catchy 'single letter' lists called the "5 E's" of things to avoid - one of which is 'Exercise'.  Clearly 'Exercise' needs putting into some context as everybody needs…
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Things are not always how they seem

Things are not always how they seem

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
In 2014, Chris and I walked 84 miles along Hadrian's Wall on the English/Scottish border.  It was a fantastic experience, and we met some really interesting people on our 6-day journey.  On the 4th night, I encountered a lady who was pretty rude. I wanted to say something, but I was with Chris and other people were also present, so I kept quiet.  I later discovered this lady was autistic and I was, therefore, relieved I hadn't responded to her initial rudeness. However, it got me thinking about the number of times I had perhaps been too hasty to judge people in the past without thinking about what was going on inside their heads and bodies.Visible Illness can have awareness benefitsConversely in 2018, I was absolutely humbled when I met a…
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Do you suffer from NET Brain?

Do you suffer from NET Brain?

Awareness, Humour
The acronym 'NET' (NeuroEndocrine Tumour) can be advantageous to NET advocates and organisations because it occasionally attracts readership from outside the Cancer community when links are accidentally found by 'surfers'.NET just also happens to be a common truncation of the word 'Internet' or 'Network'.  The vast majority will realise the irrelevance (to them) and move on but 1 or 2 might just hang around and take a look.  Bingo - we have spread a little bit of awareness!However, these unintended awareness opportunities are not confined to 'NET'.  According to my blog statistics, other than my name, the most common search phrase which leads to my blog is "No Fear" - the title of one of two blogs I wrote on so-called 'scanxiety'.  However, I suspect many surfers, base jumpers, bungee jumpers, climbers, extreme sport types and those looking for…
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Surgery for NETs – Chop Chop

Surgery for NETs – Chop Chop

Treatment
At the end of 2014, I was feeling pretty good celebrating 4 years since my first 'big' surgery in 2010. It prompted me to write an article Surgery - the gift that keeps on giving. In that particlar article, I really just wanted to say I was grateful for the early surgical treatment and as I was just about to spend another Christmas with my family, I was reminiscing what a wonderful gift it was at the time. Other than some detail of the surgery, I didn't get too technical, I just wanted to generate a thankful and festive mood. However, a recent private message from a subscriber prompted me to study the current benefits of surgery for Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) in more detail just to ensure my understanding was still in line with best practice. …
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Colonoscopy Comedy

Colonoscopy Comedy

Humour, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email Last year I wrote a series of articles on the 'coping' side of cancer, one of which was about still being able to have a laugh. This was my way of saying no matter how tough life is, you need to stay positive and maintain your sense of humour. When I think back to some of the treatments I've had, I sometimes have a little laugh even although I wasn't laughing at the time! My favourite 'treatment laugh' is the 'suppository story' which occurred in hospital shortly after my first major surgery - it wasn't funny at the time but I smile when I think back to it. On a…
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Turning a negative into a postive

General
[caption id="attachment_2625" align="alignleft" width="400"] Lung Cancer Breathalyser[/caption] Interesting piece in the news today and there's an amazing story behind it.  The "Lung Cancer Breathalyser" is not a new technology but following the death of his wife from advanced colon cancer, inventor Billy Boyle has produced something good enough to have been accepted on a trial basis by the NHS. If successful, it has the potential to save thousands of lives. Lung Cancer is a big killer and the survival rate at Stage 4 is around 5%. Let's hope this invention works. When I was reading the article, I immediately recognised his wife as a blogger I was following and who died on Christmas day after fighting advanced colon cancer for 2 years.  Her final and penultimate blogs are very inspiring and worth reading. Her…
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Lanreotide – Four more years

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
This post has been superseded by the following: Lanreotide: it's calling the shots - click here. Lanreotide:  10 more years please! - click here. Lanreotide vs Octreotide - click here. Original post: The UK general election steps up a gear this month and social media is playing a huge part in the debate leading up to 7 May 2015.  In the USA, the different parties are busily working on their candidates ready for 2016. It appears that politicians worldwide, are keen to exploit all areas of communication to eke out votes from the young and old who now use social media on a scale which makes 4 or 5 years ago look prehistoric. In 2012, Barack Obama's 'four more years' tweet was the biggest retweeted post ever up to that point after he thanked his 22 million…
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Intelligent patients – just what the doctor didn’t order

General
  [caption id="attachment_5440" align="aligncenter" width="309"] This blog was featured by Carcinoid Cancer Foundation[/caption]   I'm extremely pleased and honoured to have been selected as the first guest contributor to feature in the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation's blog site! I've been following these guys since I was diagnosed.  They have been serving the Carcinoid/NET Community for over 44 Years and they are in my opinion the largest and most respected Carcinoid Cancer organisation on the planet. The Carcinoid Cancer Foundation began as the ‘Carcinoid Tumor and Serotonin Research Foundation’ in 1968 when the NIH fund for rare cancers was terminated. The name was changed to the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation in 1995. It is a non-profit organization chartered by the State of New York for the purpose of encouraging and supporting research and education…
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Disobedient Objects

General
[caption id="attachment_2510" align="alignleft" width="300"] Disobedient Object[/caption] My wife and I were in London recently and we took the opportunity to visit the world-famous Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in South Kensington.  A particular display caught my eye entitled "Disobedient Objects" and I immediately thought it had a scientific sound to it.  Imagining a set of everyday objects which somehow didn't behave as you would expect, it sounded great fun so I wandered in.  How wrong I was, it was actually an exhibition examining the powerful role of objects in movements for social change.  The term 'disobedient' was used as these objects were designed by grassroots social movements mostly for use in street protests.  These ranged from bike locks for chaining your head to a fence to makeshift tear gas masks; to large inflatable cobblestones designed to act as a…
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Well done NHS!

Well done NHS!

Treatment
I've been reasonably lucky with my health over the years, suffering only the usual common ailments. I was slightly asthmatic as a child but this seemed to disappear when I left school going straight into military service. They say an army marches on its stomach... only partly true but the military did look after my health with regular check ups. I think the only medical emergency I had in my 29 years in that wonderful organisation was being knocked out in boxing training aged 16! When I left the military in 2001, I was fortunate to benefit from free health insurance at my new employers. However, I was now at an age where there was a bit of 'wear and tear' and bits were starting to fall off.  I had…
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The Mother of all Surgeries

The Mother of all Surgeries

Treatment
[caption id="attachment_2338" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Surgery[/caption] My plan for this week's blog was to continue with a surgery theme using the story of a lady who had what was described as the "Mother of all Surgeries" after being late diagnosed with a very rare and advanced type of appendiceal cancer. With NETs, surgery is a topical subject as not everyone will be able to have it and some might not even need it. Check out my blog "to cut or not to cut". I suggested in a previous blog that 'Surgery is a gift that keeps on giving' and that is probably true for many cancer survivors. However, I then added that NETs were one of a small number of tumours for which surgical debulking can provide some survival advantage for those with metastatic and incurable disease. In my own case, I've…
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2014 in review

General
The WordPress.com people prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Here's an excerpt: The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it. Click here to see the complete report. Check out my Facebook site here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NET-Cancer-Blog/476922399112723
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End of the year but not end of the mission

General
[caption id="attachment_2374" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Ronny & Chris Allan - festive sweaters :-)[/caption] Hope you all had a nice festive break?  Chris and I had 3 separate dinners making sure we made the most of our extended family base.  We decided to join in the Christmas jumper fashion statement which seems to be vogue this year - thus the picture!  At least we got to wear them 3 times! Now that busy period is over, I've had the chance to reflect on the last 8 months of blogging and look forward to my plans for 2015. I created this blog site on 29 Apr 2014 mainly to document an 84 mile charity hike across Hadrian's Wall - a World Heritage site in the North of England near the border with Scotland.  I was just a 'learner'…
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Surgery – the gift that keeps on giving

Survivorship, Treatment
As we approach NET Cancer Day, my thoughts return to 9 Nov 2010. I had been diagnosed with metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer a few months before and told it was incurable. However, with 'debulking' surgery, my Oncologist said my prognosis could be significantly improved. I now know from my own research that Neuroendocrine Tumours are one of a small number of cancers for which surgical debulking confers some survival advantage.  Another term used at the time was 'cytoreductive' surgery which means 'to control symptoms and improve survival by removing or destroying disseminated tumour metastases'.  Less neuroendocrine tumours should result in lower secretions of specific hormones which in turn should decrease the effects of Carcinoid Syndrome from which I was suffering at presentation.  I'm still alive and kicking and don't feel too…
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Chocolate – the NET effect

Chocolate – the NET effect

Diet and Nutrition, Humour
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email I've always had a 'sweet tooth' and the softer the sweet the better - toffee, marshmallows, chocolate, jelly babies, jelly beans, fruit pastilles, fudge, liquorice allsorts, 'tablet' and macaroon bars (both from Scotland), are all on my list of favourites.  In terms of desserts, I love those too - ice cream, cheese cake, meringue, cake, sponge with custard, the list is endless. And of course a hot drink isn't complete without a biscuit (or three....). Don't get me wrong, I'm not stuffing my face with sweet stuff 24/7, however I do need my sugar 'fix' now and then. I'm not a large person, I'm small 'framed' and although I was starting…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – not an exact Science

Neuroendocrine Cancer – not an exact Science

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
I've been interested in science since my school days and seem to remember it being separated into Biology, Physics and Chemistry for study and examination purposes. Biology wasn't on my radar and as I found Chemistry boring, I focused on Physics which seemed to be more 'modern' and exciting. Curiously, at the beginning of my Open University degree course some 25 years later, I found the Biology and Chemistry modules of my foundation year the most enjoyable part of the whole 6 year study.  Different teaching methods? different teachers?  Perhaps, but I suspect some maturity was involved plus a hunger for new knowledge. I seem to have caught the learning bug again since being diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer (NET Cancer).  Like many other NET Cancer patients, I feel I need to know a lot more than the average cancer patient.  For me, this can be attributed to a number of…
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Tobacco and Cancer: A smoking gun?

General
I've never smoked so I'm reasonably confident my own cancer experience is not related to this type of personal lifestyle.  I did, however, grow up in a world where smoking was widespread and a generally accepted behaviour. We now know that smoking causes more than four in five cases of lung cancer. Lung cancer not only has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers, but is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK.  Shockingly, most of these deaths are preventable, by giving up smoking in time or not starting at all. Smoking also increases the risk of at least 13 other cancers including the larynx (voice box), oesophagus (gullet), mouth and pharynx (throat), bladder, pancreas, kidney, liver, stomach, bowel, cervix, ovary, nose and sinus, and some types of leukaemia. There is also some evidence…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – early diagnosis, not early misdiagnosis?

General
The papers and social media seem to be full of awareness and early diagnosis articles this month.  This coincided with world NET Cancer Day on 10 Nov and world Pancreatic Cancer day on 13 Nov.  Social media was, therefore, buzzing with messages from organisations supporting and advocating for both of these cancer types.  These issues also made it to the conventional media outlets of newspapers, radio and television.  Last week I watched a clip from the UK national news, where 7-year survivor of Pancreatic Cancer Ali Stunt was telling the nation about the top 3 symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer and I was struck by the similarities with NET Cancer. However what really caught my ear was Ali saying how important it was for individuals to think whether the symptoms they…
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Every Day is World Neuroendocrine Cancer Day!

Every Day is World Neuroendocrine Cancer Day!

Awareness, Inspiration, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Opinion: In 2014, I experienced (so called) NET Cancer Day (10 Nov) on a major scale for the first time since its inception. Prior to that, it didn't really do that much for me.  Spookily, I even woke up on 10 Nov 2010 after a major 9-hour surgery.  Read about this here - I even woke up on November 10th after major surgery.  You'll note the title of this post is "World Neuroendocrine Cancer Day" and that is because "NET Cancer Day" is not good awareness - besides the terrible grammar, there is no such term as "Neuroendocrine Tumour Cancer".  And if we use just "NET" then in epidemiological terms we exclude the Neuroendocrine Carcinoma guys who need just as much awareness as we do (perhaps more). The build-up to…
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I woke up on World Neuroendocrine Cancer Day

I woke up on World Neuroendocrine Cancer Day

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
1 year after 2 x surgery Macmillan Cancer Support featured this post CKN featured this post 5 years after 3 surgeries 10 years after diagnosis 12 years after first surgery Macmillan Cancer Support featured this post CKN featured this post It was 10th November 2010 just after midnight. I gradually woke up after a marathon 9-hour surgery - the first of what was to be several visits to an operating theatre. The last thing I remembered before going 'under' was the voices of the surgical staff. When I woke up, I remember it being dark and I appeared to be constrained and pinned down by the dozen or so tubes going in and out of my weak and battered body.  I can still remember the feeling today; it was like…
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The Human Anatomy of Neuroendocrine Cancer

The Human Anatomy of Neuroendocrine Cancer

Awareness
OPINION.  Sometimes when I'm searching for cancer information, I'm presented with a 'pick-list' of types which mostly tend to be anatomy based.  I do find it annoying when I cannot find my own cancer on the list .....some respectable organisations are just not as up to date as they should be!  Neuroendocrine Cancer patients and advocates then have to shout quite loud for recognition and understanding.One of the key facets of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (NENs) is that they are not tied to a particular part of the human anatomy. Unlike (say) lung cancer, where the primary is in the lung, or breast cancer where the primary can be found in the breast, NENs arise from a cell type which can be present more or less anywhere in the body.  Ignorance of this…
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Detective Doctors

Detective Doctors

Awareness
Share this post please The sooner any cancer can be correctly diagnosed, the better chances of a curative scenario for the person concerned.  However, some cancers are in the 'difficult to diagnose' category.  Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) are in this category due to the vague symptoms which may be mistaken for other diseases and routine illnesses. This is one of the reasons there have been many lengthy diagnostic delays.  In many cases, it can be very quiet leading to incidental diagnosis at an advanced stage. It's SNEAKY! In some cases, it can be a little bit noisy. For example, some of the most common misdiagnoses appears to be Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), asthma, or menopause.  Patients complain of abdominal pain, wheezing, shortness of breath, diarrhea, flushing, palpitations and a whole host of other minor issues.  There are…
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Awareness, Awareness, Awareness

General
When Tony Blair swept to power in 1997, he said:  "Ask me my three main priorities for government and I tell you education, education, and education".  His approach of repeated word emphasis has been copied and recycled by many others replacing the words with something to suit their own message.  I'm now guilty of similar plagiarism! One of the key aims of my blog is to spread awareness of Neuroendocrine Cancer and I'm very pleased to be part of the 'worldwide team' doing my bit to help. I started blogging in Apr this year mainly to support a sponsored walk but it has turned into something more permanent.  I start to twitch if I haven't blogged for more than a week :-)  I'm now fast approaching my first 10,000 hits which is…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – Horrible Hormones

Neuroendocrine Cancer – Horrible Hormones

Patient Advocacy
Hormonal imbalances are quite common in many conditions including day to day stuff. With Neuroendocrine Cancer, it can be a real challenge both at diagnostic and maintenance phases.  In addition to the cancer angle, there's some strange stuff going on, inexplicable, frightening for the patient, an unwanted ingredient causing chaos!Until I was diagnosed with metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer, I didn't have a clue about hormones - it's one of those things you just take for granted. However, hormones are vital to human health (male and female) and it's only when things go wrong you suddenly appreciate how important they are.  Hormones are involved in many conditions, not just an issue with Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) but the presence of over-secreting hormones (often called peptides throughout) is useful to aid a diagnosis, albeit…
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A Commitment to Fight Cancer

General
[caption id="attachment_1992" align="alignnone" width="640"] Steve Davis and the Author[/caption] I was a spectator at the Bournemouth marathon on Sunday 5 Oct 2014.  I was there to shout for my old army friend, Steve Davis, who was running 26.2 miles for PLANETS Charity.  When Steve found out I was living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, he immediately volunteered his services to help raise funds. Steve is a runner but when you are '50 something', running a marathon is no easy feat - not easy on your feet either :-) I had seen excerpts of marathons on television but this was my first time as a spectator at a live event.  One thing that struck me was the sheer number of people who were running for good causes. The usual big names were there (Cancer…
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Living with an incurable cancer – does mind over matter help?

Living with an incurable cancer – does mind over matter help?

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
When I started blogging in 2014, it was relatively easy - all I needed to do was to talk about my experience to help raise awareness of Neuroendocrine Cancer; then talk about my hike along Hadrian's Wall for a local Charity.  The blog was only ever intended to be a temporary supporting tool for the walk and its build up; but I was persuaded by good reviews and viewing numbers to keep it going.  That suddenly made it more difficult! In my early blogs, there were several 'no go areas' which were either too complex or potentially controversial.  I didn't really have much time to think them through properly at that point in time. However, I've since dabbled in some of these areas to test the waters.   I'm not a healthcare…
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Passive patient or active advocate?

General
Sorry to have been quiet for a while but I've been so busy with house, family and cancer campaigning activities.  Additionally, I've been continuing my research into Neuroendocrine Cancer.  Why do I do this?  Whilst I have a great medical team, I'd also like to be my own advocate and this means understanding what medical people tell me! Moreover, I don't want to be a passive patient, I want to be an active advocate for my own health.  I found this infographic on the internet which sums up my own views nicely (special thanks to Know your Own Health Ltd). [caption id="attachment_1938" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Passive vs Activated Patient[/caption] I actually enjoy researching neuroendocrine disease and I'd like to think it was all in one book somewhere - this simply isn't…
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No flushes please!

General
[caption id="attachment_1893" align="alignnone" width="640"] No flushes please![/caption] Despite people's expectations, diagnosing Cancer isn't a two minute job. There is a whole host of stuff to consider and medical staff clearly want to get it 100% correct in order to plan and manage the patient's treatment. I wrote a blog on 26 July "celebrating" 4 years since diagnosis - it's worth a read, check it out at this link here: http://wp.me/p4AplF-c Continuing with the 'four years on' theme, 4 years today I started my first treatment. That was a full 6 weeks after diagnosis. I think many people might expect a quicker execution of treatment. However, I cannot remember becoming impatient, albeit mine was to be palliative/cyto reductive (tumour debulking) rather than curative. I did have a 3 day Octreotide Scan…
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Childhood Neuroendocrine Cancer – 1 in 7 million!

General
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!  The newspapers and social media will no doubt be featuring many child cancer articles and I notice the UK's top soap Coronation Street is already featuring such a story. I personally cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to be a parent who has a child with cancer. I would just hope my child would be placed into the care and safe custody of experienced medical teams and would be able to get access to the best treatments available.  I don't know that much about Childhood cancers but the Cancer Research UK site has a nice summary on this page.  You will note that over half of childhood cancers are either Acute Leukaemias or Brain Cancer. I do know a lot about Neuroendocrine Cancer…
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If your Doctors don’t suspect something, they won’t detect anything!

If your Doctors don’t suspect something, they won’t detect anything!

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
Opinion:One of the most discussed and debated Cancer issues is late diagnosis. Cyberspace is full of disturbing stories and many different cancers are involved. Some cancers are notoriously difficult to diagnose, meaning that awareness and education needs to extend from the general population to healthcare professionals at all levels. The latter is a challenge as first-line physicians battle to deal with thousands of different conditions, many of which have similar presentations. Neuroendocrine Neoplasms have a record of being difficult to diagnose which often leads to late diagnosis. Moreover, due to their often-silent nature, a late diagnosis is often a default scenario as no intervention was possible without a symptomatic patient.Neuroendocrine Neoplasms - Under-diagnosed or Under-reported?Like many other Cancers, Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (NEN) is one of a number of 'difficult to diagnose'…
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Met an old friend today; his name is Gym

General
I think I first met Gym at school in the sixties - we normally met on a weekly basis. We were reacquainted when I joined the army and hooked up more frequently! It was there I met some of Gym's friends, known as PTIs (Physical Training Instructors). Their opening line was normally "Ten times round my large bronze chest...... GO! " and then we would proceed with the 'beasting'.  I suspect I might now be prodded by the PTIs on my facebook page - there are one or two out there :-) I've always been a fairly fit guy but over time my fitness had faded.  I'm to blame entirely for this but I suppose it hasn't been helped by a diagnosis of metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer.  However, I'm now turning this negative…
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Am I at fighting weight?

General
I recently blogged about my boxing experience in post: http://wp.me/p4AplF-r7  In those days I was just a wee skinny 16 year old guy! I think I was in the Bantamweight category, somewhere between 8 and 9 stone (50 - 57 kg). Although I gained some weight after years of service in the military, I didn't really 'bulk out' in the wrong places until I left the military aged 45. Even then it wasn't what you would call overweight or obese. I joined a gym, determined to maintain some form of fitness.  I sacked it due to pressures of work but then joined a few years later for another go. However, work and associated commuting took over again and I withdrew once more. In those days, I didn't really weigh myself and…
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Glass half full or half empty?

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
Most people have probably heard of the saying "is your glass half empty or half full".  If you said 'half empty', you have more of a pessimistic view on life; if you said 'half full', you tend to have more of an optimistic or positive outlook. I don't think a positive outlook actually means you permanently wear 'rose tinted glasses' and act like everything is fine. I think it just means you approach potentially negative situations in a more positive and productive way.  I agree that sometimes it’s hard not to veer into negative thoughts or actions from time to time. I'm only human and I've been in some dark places in the last 5 years since diagnosis. However, I believe to continuously be in 'half empty mode' can have a…
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“You’re from Dundee – you must like fighting”

General
Apparently all Scotsmen wear kilts, have ginger hair, eat nothing but deep fried Mars Bars and they like a good fight! Stereotyping is frequently used to wind people up and can on occasion be used in an irrational or insulting manner.  However, I believe one of those attributes is accurate.  I was once 'volunteered' for boxing because my home town was Dundee!   Read on... Dundee was put on the boxing map in the late fifties and in the early sixties due to the legendary Dick McTaggart who won a Gold and Bronze medal in two separate Olympic Games (for Great Britain). Many new boxing clubs sprang up in Dundee over this period and you can see the evidence of his legacy today.  It's also timely for this blog that Dundee…
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Four years on

General
On Saturday, I glanced at the calendar on my phone and recognised the date as some sort of anniversary - 26 July.  It was exactly 4 years to the day I received my diagnosis of Metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer. It all began 2 months previously with a routine asthma clinic appointment when I mentioned to the Nurse Practitioner that I thought I'd lost half a stone in weight.  She immediately said "did you mean to lose the weight" and the answer was "no" on the basis that I just simply thought I was heavier.  As a precaution she sent me for a set of blood tests and then a retest.  I later marched into the GP's office (having been asked to come to the surgery) to hear the GP say "I…
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Laughter is the best medicine

Humour
How many times have you heard it said that laughter is the best medicine?  I can certainly remember this phrase being said when I was a child.   There is some Science in Medicine (more applied than pure), so where is the scientific evidence for this claim?  Well after all this time, someone has decided to carry out a study.  Apparently when we laugh, we exercise our muscles, get blood flowing, decrease our blood pressure and stress hormones, improve sleep patterns and boost our immune system. It's a new area of research known as 'Psychoneuroimmunology' - the study of how emotions affect our nervous and immune systems. It's still a relatively new area of research, but the insights are promising. The study looked at 20 healthy older adults in their 60s…
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Finding Hotspots

General
Just back from a nice relaxing holiday in Tenerife.  I don't know about you but when overseas I find myself looking for 'hotspots' everywhere I go....... I don't mean trendy entertainment venues, I'm talking about the modern phenomenon known as a WiFi signal! I also mean free and open connections.  Even recent price reductions within Europe did not tempt me to use 'data'  overseas and I didn't even want to take advantage of the £2 per day upgrade of my mobile phone account which would give me access to my minutes/MBs overseas on a temporary basis. I just look for free WiFi and I also make a point of turning off 'data' on my phone before leaving the country to avoid expensive mistakes.  No Scottish jokes please, I'm just frugal :-) My hotspot…
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A Highland Coup

General
[caption id="attachment_1633" align="alignnone" width="640"] Highland Coos[/caption] One of my favourite memories from childhood is the vision of the finest looking cattle in the UK - the Highland 'Coo' (for those who are thinking I've made a mistake in my title spelling, read on!).   The memories are not confined to seeing them grazing in the fields but I also remember them as the iconic symbol of a famous Scottish toffee known as "Highland Toffee" made by McGowans in Stenhousemuir - also famous for its football team :-)  Having researched this toffee for my blog, I just found out the firm went bust in 2011.  However, the brand survived and the toffee bars are now made in England (grrrrr, sacrilege!). The first overnight stay during the Hadrian's Wall challenge (see blog links below) was…
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Things are not always how they seem

General
I met quite a few interesting people during my walk of Hadrian's Wall last month. On Day 3 when Chris and I were accompanied by Dave Taylor, we could see a couple heading up the hill that we were progressing down.  We couldn't help noticing that the male of the duo was continually stopping to talk to others and we were no exception.  His wife kept overtaking him at these points not saying a word. He got chatting to me and Dave and we worked out he was Irish.  I love Irish people and I know they like to talk - but this guy was really good at it!  We discussed where we were all from and he proceeded to tell us that most big companies in the world were run by Irish people or those descended from…
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Up and atom!!

General
  I already explained Day 1 of this 3 day 'scanathon' in blog: http://wp.me/p4AplF-lY     Bit techy but added some humour to dilute some of that down. Just a quick post to elaborate on the remainder of the experience which was completed yesterday. I've had this scan twice previously with the last one in the summer of 2011 and both were done in Bournemouth Hospital. Due to a merging of the Bournemouth and Poole Nuclear Medicine Departments, these are now done at Poole. Interesting journey from/to Ringwood especially in the rush hour!  Also, the hospital parking was challenging to say the least.  I covered a total of 120 miles (4 visits) plus £9 in parking fees.  However, it's a small price to pay for the benefits received. They gave me…
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Forget the posturing, it’s results that matter

General
  [caption id="attachment_1467" align="alignleft" width="288"] Good Results[/caption]   You can tell there is a football competition on and they don't get bigger than the World Cup which I believe is one of the world's great sporting competitions second only to the Olympics?  Like it or not, this is a time when football fans suddenly become experts, apparently knowing even more about the game than the managers, players, pundits and commentators - particularly in hindsight after the match!  Is it just me or do you also wonder why these 'armchair pundits' aren't in the aforementioned jobs :-) Social media has increased the reach of the armchair pundits and consequently we now have to listen to running commentaries of every game and of course their disapproval of any decision or infringement against the…
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I’ve just been nuked!

General
When I was in the military, I was given basic training in how to deal with the threat of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare (known then as NBC).   However, there was a focus on the chemical side as that was classed as the most defendable of the 3 and probably the most likely scenario (but that's only my opinion!).  I think the training for nuclear attack consisted of the following advice: 'put your head between your legs and kiss your arse goodbye' :-)  Some 13 years after departing that wonderful organisation, I'm now allowing radioactivity to be injected into my body! At my age I'm no longer physically able to put my head between my legs but in any case, I need not be concerned about this controlled 'contamination'…
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My stomach sometimes cramps my style

My stomach sometimes cramps my style

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
When planning to walk Hadrian's Wall in the north of England in 2014, I carried out a number of risk assessments (as all good Project Managers do!).  In true 'Donald Rumsfeld style', I considered all the 'known unknowns' and the 'unknown unknowns'.  Anybody who doesn't is either reckless or supremely confident (the latter can sometimes be the same as the former......).As a Cancer patient, there were some issues I had to consider which might not have made the list for most walkers covering this sort of distance and this type of terrain.  One of the issues I occasionally experience is stomach cramps, not that frequent but problematic and quite painful when they occur.  If you've had abdominal surgery, you might be having to deal with issue. Many Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET)…
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