Neuroendocrine Cancer: No one gets it until they get it


Over the years of my advocating, I’ve tried to explain Neuroendocrine Cancer to many people outside the community.  Some ‘get it’ but many don’t.  Most understand ‘Cancer’, they have real difficultly understanding ‘Neuroendocrine‘.  Despite how hard I try, I can see that some of them just don’t get it!

One of the challenges of explaining Neuroendocrine Cancer is the sheer complexity and spectrum of types. It’s a heterogeneous grouping of cancers ranging from some quite indolent versions through to very aggressive versions similar to many dangerous adenocarcinomas.  Unlike many of the more understood cancers, Neuroendocrine Cancer can literally appear anywhere in the body, adding to an already complex description, in addition to creating a disadvantage of awareness opportunities – basically many doctors and media organisations don’t ‘get it’ either!

Add in the symptoms caused by Neuroendocrine Tumours and their associated ‘Syndromes‘ and ‘Hormones‘, the external audience is now falling asleep or lost interest. Trying to explain why these diseases cannot be diagnosed earlier is also very complex.  “How can it be so difficult” many of them ask.

If you have managed to keep their interest and get onto the subject of living with the disease, it gets even more mind-blowing.  Non-stop surveillance, lifetime surveillance, permanent side effects of treatment. “No way” many of them remark.  The problem is that many people have a really simple outlook on cancer; something goes wrong, you get diagnosed, you get treated, you either die or live.  Simple isn’t it?

One group that normally ‘gets it’ is those who have currently got it, i.e. Neuroendocrine Cancer patients and their close families and supporters.    They may not ‘get it’ before someone is diagnosed and they may still not ‘get it’ once someone is diagnosed, but they eventually will ‘get it’. I have many people who ‘get it’ in my private group and on my main campaign sites.

Despite the difficulties, I’ll continue talking to those who have not yet ‘got it’ hoping to make them understand the disease.  I also intend to continue to help with the undiagnosed (some of these guys probably do ‘get it’ but just not yet formally ‘got it’).  I also want to help those at and beyond diagnosis who despite having it, don’t yet quite ‘get it’.

No one gets it until they get it. It shouldn’t be that way. 

Thanks for reading

Ronny

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Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!


patients included
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From dying to living, to hell and back


I once wrote a post about patient stories, in particular the ones I receive in my private messages.  The headline was “The shock effect never wears off“.  But none have been more shocking than the one I received 2 weeks ago.

This is a story about someone who is a private person but felt the need to reach out to me about their diagnostic experience. This person wanted to talk about it, but in private and I was happy to listen.  I was so moved by this story, I persuaded this person to let me tell it here whilst retaining their anonymity.  Hence referral going forward as ‘Patient E’. I just felt that someone somewhere might learn something very important.

The Story of ‘Patient E’

In December 2018, Patient E was told ‘Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer’ and had 10 months to live. Chemo was to be attempted in January in an effort to extend life but in the meantime was told to spend Christmas for the last time with the family, a spouse and 3 young children.   On 2nd January, Patient E was then told (with apologies) it was actually a ‘Neuroendocrine Tumour with a pancreatic primary’.  The only good thing about this story so far, is that they told the children nothing over Christmas. “Why worry happy little people” was the bit of the story which brought out my tears.

Initially I was quite angry this could happen to anyone but I was then calmed by Patient E who now had fresh hope and optimism, perhaps realising that there were possibilities for many more years with the family.

So why do these things happen?  Apart from the serious communications lapse by the hospital, this is another example of the problems we as a community face with the anatomical approach many doctors take with cancer, with some even describing a pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumour as a type of Pancreatic Cancer (this happens with other parts of the anatomy too).

Patient E is not alone, I once wrote a story about rock star Wilko Johnson (of Dr Feelgood fame) who was given a very similar prognosis.  However, Wilko was in the later stages of his life and decided instead of undergoing gruelling chemotherapy, he would forego any treatment and tour with his band in the final 12 months of his life and …….. make an album with Roger Daltrey of The Who. It wasn’t until someone enquired why he wasn’t dead after 12 months, that they re-checked and changed the diagnosis to Neuroendocrine Tumour with a pancreatic primary.  Read the whole story here.

I wonder how many other times this has happened.

Neuroendocrine Tumours with a pancreatic primary (pNET) is a totally different cancer to Pancreatic Cancer.  With Pancreatic Cancer, most people die, quite the opposite with pNETs where most people live.  Read more about the main differences here.

I’m grateful to Patient E for contacting me to let me know that my blog and my other support sites have been helpful in the transition from despair to hope since finding out the correct diagnosis on 2nd January. I do hope Patient E will keep me updated.

Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook.  Like my page for even more news.  I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

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My Diagnosis and Treatment History

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Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

patients included
This is a Patients Included Site

PLEASE CONSIDER SHARING THIS POST – YOU MAY SAVE SOMEONE’S LIFE

 

Letter from America

letter from america envelope

I’ve always been one to keep an eye out for the postman (the postie as we say here). Even as a heavy user of computers, I still get excited about receiving ‘paper’ mail.  Other than birthday cards, I personally don’t tend to see many handwritten letters nowadays. In today’s internet connected world, handwritten letters are always exciting, always special. However, the one I received in the first week of February 2019 was extra special, it was postmarked from North Carolina USA.

Now ….. for those around the same age as me, you might have been attracted by the article header and have remembered the famous radio show entitled “Letter from America”.  This was a weekly fifteen minute speech radio series broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and across the world through the BBC World Service. Throughout its history, it was presented by Alistair Cooke, who would speak of a topical issue in the US, tying together different strands of observation and anecdote and often ending on a humorous or poignant note. The series ran from 24 March 1946 to 20 February 2004, making it the longest-running speech radio programme hosted by one individual in history! The BBC has archived many episodes on their website and you can actually now listen to these – click here if you fancy a trip back in time.  For me, the memories of the programme were around the deep bond of friendship and shared values that the two great countries share, thus why the radio programme was so special and so relevant to listeners this side of the pond.

Some of you possibly thought about the Scottish duo composed of twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid – ‘The Proclaimers’. I guess many people in North America and the Southern Hemisphere will be aware of this group who are probably more famous for their anthem song ‘I’m gonna be (500 miles)’ but their song ‘Letter from America’ was actually their most successful.   I have a theory that when people from America tell me they like my quaint British accent, what they actually mean is my Scottish ‘twang’, just like ‘The Proclaimers’ who were born and raised not far from my home town of Dundee.  Their singing style is with a Scottish ‘twang’ – always worth a listen (click here).

Anyway, back to the actual letter.   The person who sent me the letter placed their name and address on the front of the envelope but it was not a name I recognised.  However, he left a clue inside indicating a mutual connection (WEGO Health).  What a boost this letter gave me!

It should also be a boost for all those who read my stuff and follow me on social media because ‘Josh’ is not a Neuroendocrine Cancer patient but he made some really awesome comments which I wanted to share with you. I also wanted you to know first hand that others are being made aware of Neuroendocrine Cancer and our fight for more awareness.

In case you can’t read the handwritten words or wanted to translate, I’ve extracted below:

“Dear Ronny, I just wanted to send a quick “Hello” and “thank you” for everything you do. I’ve become familiar with your advocacy work over the past couple of years and it is hard to find the quality of content and mix of science, lifestyle and hope that you consistently show the world.  It is refreshing and inspiring to say the least. I hope you realize the positive impact you have on real people.  Thank you again and I look forward to your future work.  Sincerely……… Josh”

Letter from America

Thanks for listening

Ronny

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Neuroendocrine Cancer: a needle in a haystack


needle in a haystack

It’s no secret that Neuroendocrine Cancer can be difficult to diagnose. Although earlier diagnosis is improving (as reported in the SEER database report issued in 2017), there is still a lot of ground to cover. It’s also no secret that certain cancers are difficult to diagnose (NETs is one) and there are a number of reasons why this happens, including but not limited to: – they grow silently, they often produce vague symptoms which can be mistaken for much more common illnesses, and their complexity is not fully understood.

I wanted to cover two different aspects of the problem of finding NETs. Firstly, in finding the primary tumour so that the type of NET can be properly established – this drives the best treatment regime. Secondly in finding all the tumours, as this establishes the correct and most detailed staging declaration – this drives treatment plans and surveillance regimes that need to be put into place.

Hunting Tumours – Primary vs Secondary

It’s really important to determine which tumours are primary and which are secondary (metastasis). There’s a number of ways to help work this out and knowledge of NETs epidemiology studies can help.

Specialist Knowledge – certain things are known about the behaviour of NETs

Specialists and in particular NET specialists will be aware of the vagaries of NETs in terms of what tumours are normally a primary and which are normally secondary and many of the pitfalls involved in working that out. Many NETs will have metastasized to the liver at diagnosis, so whilst it is not impossible to have a primary liver NET, the vast majority of liver tumours found will be secondary (metastases). NET Specialists are more likely to have the experience than generalists. They know that the varying metastatic potential depending on the primary site clearly indicates differing biology and genetics across sites and they know that NETs are indeed a heterogeneous group of tumours. The differences cannot be explained by whether the NET is situated in the foregut, midgut, or hindgut. For example, Appendiceal NET is known to be less prone to metastasis. This may be due to the high rate of incidental findings during appendectomies, or because the appendix is an immunological organ where malignant cells can therefore be expected to be frequently recognized by the immune system.

The majority of the digestive tract is drained by the portal venous system, explaining the dominance of liver metastases in this group of tumours. This also explains our finding that many nervous system and bone metastases originate from NETs in the lungs. Disseminated tumour cells may directly reach the systemic circulation from the lungs, whereas if originating from the midgut region, they need to first pass both the liver and the lungs.

As an example of this heuristic knowledge, one Swedish study indicated that two-thirds of peritoneal metastases will be attributed to Small Intestine NETs (SI NETs). SI NETs and Pancreatic NETs (pNETs) are the most likely to metastasize. The least likely sites to metastasize are the Appendix and Rectum. The same study indicated that in addition to the common metastatic locations of lymph nodes and liver, Lung NETs are more likely to metastasize to the brain and bone than other types. I believe the findings from this study more or less correlates to other information I’ve had access to and also confirms the technical behaviour paragraph above.

There are many other clues open to those involved in diagnosing a NET:

Patient. Very often the patient plays a big part of determining where the primary and other tumours might be by carefully describing symptoms.

Incidental Finds. NETs are very often found incidentally during trips to the ER/A&E and also during tests for something else. This is particularly the case with Appendiceal NETs and might explain why the average age of a patient is significantly lower in this type of NET.

Blood tests and Hormone Markers. We are not yet in a position where these types of tests can diagnose (but we are moving in that direction). In the case of unknown primaries (CUP), sometimes test results can help to find where some of these cancers started. With NETs, symptomatic patients can often test to confirm an elevated hormone marker which may narrow it down to a specific organ or gland. Read more here.

Scans and Endoscopies. Most cancers of a certain size may show up on conventional scanning such as CT, MRI and Ultrasound. Nuclear scans are now playing a bigger part in finding tumours which betray their location through functional behaviour by lighting up or glowing on these imaging devices. Endoscopies (e.g. gastroscopies, colonoscopies, even gastro intestinal pill cameras can be used) can help but like scans are not foolproof). Generally with NETs, if you can see it, you can detect it. Read more here.

Hereditary Conditions. Around 5-10% of NETs are hereditary in nature, mostly involving the MEN group of syndromes. Many of those people will know they are at risk of developing NETs and their doctors should know the most common locations for primary tumours associated with each gene. So a declared or suspected hereditary syndrome is useful in finding primary tumours if they exist and are proving difficult to find.

Biopsies. “Tissue is the issue”. Pathology can very often give really strong clues as to the type of NET and therefore the likely location of a primary tumour, for example additional tests such as immunostains. Many biopsies will come from secondary cancer (metastases), mostly the liver.  Despite all the potential diagnostic routes above, the place the cancer started is sometimes still not found and this may lead to atypical diagnostic/treatment plans and in certain cases this might even include exploratory biopsies via surgery (invasive/minimally invasive), perhaps combined with opportunistic tumour removal if found during the procedure.

Staging. Simple staging can be given if locations of metastases are known. For example in the case of Liver metastases, the stage is automatically Stage 4. However, the full staging definition relies on knowing distant metastases, loco-regional metastases and the full Tumour/Node/Metastases (TNM) definition (size, spread, etc) cannot be given without a primary. Read more here.

Cancers of Unknown Primary

Cancer is always named for the place where it started, called the primary site. Sometimes doctors can’t tell where a cancer may have started. When cancer is found in one or more places where it seems to have spread, but the site where it started is not known, it is called a cancer of unknown primary (CUP) or an occult primary cancer.

When you look at the ratio of all cancers, the figure for cancers of unknown primary (CUP) is quite startling. Depending on where you look the figure is around 2-10%. That doesn’t seem a lot but when you consider the amount of people diagnosed with cancer, the total figure must be staggering. Interestingly, Cancer Research UK say that 60% of CUP cases are in the over 75s. In another interesting Swedish study, doctors claimed that the rates of metastatic cases were higher with certain NETs than they were in their anatomical counterparts, reinforcing the dangerous and sneaky nature of NETs.

Despite quite advanced scanning and diagnostic testing currently in place, and the extensive knowledge of NET specialists, there can still be reasons for not being able to find the primary tumour:

  • The primary is just too small to be seen and is growing quite slow. Very small cancers might not cause symptoms or be seen on scans. This is a particularly relevant point with NETs.
  • The primary could be hidden in tissue in between different organs causing confusion about the actual primary location.
  • The body’s immune system killed the primary cancer. It’s also possible (but not common) that any secondary cancer (i.e. metastases) is still growing.
  • The tumour has become loose from its primary location and exited the body, e.g. from a wall of the bowel and excreted out in the stool.
  • The primary cancer was removed during surgery for another condition and doctors didn’t know cancer had formed. For example, a uterus with cancer may be removed during a hysterectomy to treat a serious infection.

Summary

I hope this is useful for many NET patients, particularly those who are looking for a diagnosis or looking for a primary tumour.

Neuroendocrine Cancer – at times, it can really be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

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Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

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RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter Covering November 2018

Newsletter Nov 18
Summary for November 2018

NET News

1. I supported the annual NET Cancer Day event in my own style, contributing SIGNIFICANTLY to both Facebook and Twitter social media platforms.  My twitter accounts were the biggest contributors to the #LETsTalkAboutNETs and #NeuroendocrineCancer hashtags for several days straddling the 10th Nov and between this and my Facebook account, I accounted for a significant proportion of the data recently published by INCA.   I almost got to my 1 million ‘reach’ on twitter in ONE WEEK straddling NET Cancer Day (see below) – just a wee Scottish guy with a less common disease and a computer. Curiously not mentioned by INCA in their recent newsletter.  So I thought I’d mention it instead.

Mind you, every day is NET Cancer Day on my social media platforms. I push on.

Every day is NET Cancer Day

 

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Join my twitter army for a new paradigm in NETs awareness

2.  Thanks for supporting my photo on Facebook and Twitter – it has become the most liked post on my Facebook ever with over 1000 likes.  You can link directly to it by clicking here:

45610294_1983128528439302_5378612202188046336_n

3. Personal NET News

My NET. I still await the output from a meeting with my Oncologist and Surgeon to address the new issues identified my routine surveillance scan and a subsequent Ga68 PET/CT. Fortunately the issues are not classed as urgent at this stage. They have dismissed PRRT as an option at this stage (kept in reserve) and it looks like surgery might be on the cards.  You can read about my Ga68 PET/CT experience here and my fibrosis issues here.  I recently has a Renal MAG3 nuclear scan to determine the efficacy of my kidney function – waiting on results but expecting good news.

fibrosis an unsolved mystery

Looking for Advice?

If you are reading this and you are currently undiagnosed but strongly suspect NETs – this article might help.

If you are diagnosed and looking for a NET Specialist and the sort of questions to ask – this article will help.

Blog Site Activity in November

Due to the vagaries of Facebook inner workings, some of these articles created or updated in the last month may not have even shown on your timeline. So, ICYMI …….here’s a summary with links, includes updated blogs. You can actually sign up to receive my blog articles direct to your inbox when published – subscribe here.

Neuroendocrine Cancer is normally slow growing Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes: it may be slow growing BUT …..  My new campaign to highlight issues surrounding living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
pancreatic vs neuroendocrine Awareness article to illustrate the differences between Pancreatic Cancer and Neuroendocrine Cancer with a pancreatic primary.
fibrosis an unsolved mystery Updated version of NET Fibrosis.
slow growing cancer Updated version of NET – normally slow but always sneaky
witches brew Updated version of NET Syndromes – a witch’s brew
Your-favourite-articles-1.jpg Your favourite posts.  Revised list of anything above 5000 hits. I now have three articles with over 20,000 views.
Newsletter Oct 18
October 2018 Newsletter in case you missed it.
caricture For most of November, my name branded facebook page was the fastest rising public Facebook page on the planet about NETs. I use this page to like and comment on other healthcare pages (it draws in interest in NETs). Some of you will also recognise it as the main ID inside my closed group. It’s also a backup to this page (NETCancerBlog) as you will not always see stuff on my main page due to Facebook gremlins.

(Don’t unlike, I need your strength in numbers to generate awareness).

There were many distractions in November 2018, I’m actually quite busy with external projects but still managed over 35,000 views, the second biggest monthly figure. Here are the top 10 most read articles which contributed to last month’s figures:

Home page / Archives More stats 2,936
Neuroendocrine Cancer – normally slow but always sneaky? More stats 2,321
Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes: A Witch’s Brew More stats 1,473
Dear every cancer patient I ever took care of, I’m sorry. I didn’t get it. More stats 1,390
Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – Home Page More stats 1,345
Neuroendocrine Cancer – Hormones More stats 1,333
Neuroendocrine Cancer – is normally slow growing BUT ….. More stats 1,305
Neuroendocrine Cancer – tumour markers and hormone levels More stats 1,026
Neuroendocrine Cancer is not a ‘type’ of another Cancer ….. PERIOD! More stats 959
Pancreatic Cancer vs Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Pancreas More stats 944
The Human Anatomy of Neuroendocrine Cancer More stats 875

Other Activity

I’m constantly looking for opportunities to spread awareness and advance the cause of Neuroendocrine Cancer patients. Thank you all so much for the support in helping me do this.

  • Please join my 2018 (but perpetual) awareness campaign event here (select ‘Going’)

  • I continue to receive a steady flow of private contacts, mainly from patients seeking information. I don’t have an issue with private contact but please note my disclaimer


  • Please also note that due to sheer numbers of requests, I cannot accept telephone or video calls on a one to one basis. Please just message me and I will respond – see “Send Message” button when you CLICK HERE. (also please ‘Like’ this page if you have not already done so). On a personal note, please do not send me friend requests on my personal Facebook page, I get so many and want to keep this little area of ‘sanity’ free of NET stuff. I have so many other sites you can contact me on – all inside the newsletter. The number of non-patients contacting me for other reasons (mainly to help with something) continues to grow and this is producing some great publicity and awareness.

Ronny Allan’s Private Facebook Group

As the number of people contacting me has increased so much, it’s becoming very difficult to answer all questions myself. I’ve therefore set up a chat room here (I’m not the only one who can answer questions!). This is not like many forums, it’s a place to make people feel safe and to discuss without many of the other distractions that can be found on forums and is moderated accordingly. I welcome all types of NET, people from any country and I also welcome carers/caregivers and medical people. It’s also a place where I will bring in expertise to chat about various issues. The first online chat was held on 28 Feb about the problems NET patients can have with being unable to produce sufficient digestive enzymes and the treatment to correct this issue PERT (Creon etc).

The second chat will be about “Weight” and you can join the event by selecting ‘Going’ to this event (you will be kept up to date inside this event).
Join the chat group by clicking here (please answer the simple questions so you can be processed quicker). As at 30th November, there were almost 2200 people in the group. It’s the fastest growing group in the world for NETs.

And I’m working on a guest Gastroenterologist for a third chat.  To be confirmed.

New Audiences for NET Cancer

I said it was my aim to find new audiences for NETs rather than just share stuff within our own community. Sharing memes and animal pictures between patients is not my scene – I want to extend awareness much wider than that and with much wider and compelling messages, particularly to the outside world.  Doing that is a way to ensure we move away from being a niche condition that no-one has heard of. I’m doing this all the time, although it may not always be apparent.

Engagements and Invites

  • I just received an invite to help build an educational tool for NETs. More to follow when I am at liberty to tell you.
  • I’m working on a video shoot next week for a Pharma company who are looking at how cancer patients live from day to day.  More info later when I am at liberty to tell you.
  • I’m working on an association with a Pharma company to help with patient portals.  Early days.
  • I’m working on an association with a healthcare company to help with their marketing.
  • I’ve accepted an appointment to the Strategic Advisory Board on MultiMed Inc the owner of Cancer Knowledge Network based in Canada who have featured my articles in the past (https://cancerkn.com/) – They also publishes a magazine called Current Oncology which is Medline listed. This is not a NET site but my inclusion will no doubt raise the profile for us. Read more here.
  • Cure Magazine. I’ve been accepted as a ‘Cure Today’ contributor which means my articles will get a wider distribution than they do now. Cure Magazine has a readership of 1 million. Click here to read more. In October, I was featured in Cure Magazine twice.
“Cancer isn’t all about me”
“Poker Face or Cancer Card”
  • Twitter. I’m ‘extremely’ active on twitter and I find a lot of research stuff there, in addition to new audiences. I also use it to support other conditions and it’s mostly returned (i.e. others help with NET awareness and are made aware of NETs in the process). There are people regularly retweeting my stuff who do not have a personal interest in NETs and I am now regularly copied in on many tweets by those wishing to use my account as a vehicle for dissemination. In the last month, I tweeted 244 times on my personal account which led to over 117,000 views of my tweets. I was mentioned 203 times by other tweeters, 2331 people looked at my profile (where it mentions NETs) and I gained 64 new followers. My weekly ‘reach’ is consistently between 400,000 and 800,000, heading for 1 million soon. My tweet “Ignore this post” remains the most tweeted article about NETs ever posted on twitter. Check it out – click here.
  • proud to be

WANT TO JOIN MY TWITTER ARMY?  Just ask. 

  • Daily Newsletter from my twitter feed (Nuzzel). There is so much on twitter that I could swamp the community Facebook site so I started a twitter newsletter via an app called Nuzzel which seeks out stuff I normally like. This has been a huge success from my point of view resulting in an increase in blog hits and to a wider population than just NETs. Click this link and sign up if you think this is something you’d be interested in receiving – you don’t need to have a twitter account to read, just sign up with an email to join over 630 other subscribers.
  • WEGO. I continue to be featured by ‘external’ organisations such as WEGO and my PODCAST is reaching new audiences – click here. In March, I managed to get into a very well contested short list for an article about the use of Facebook for health communities in light of the recent bad press for the service. The recent awards will continue to showcase my work which has the effect of spreading Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness to NEW audiences in addition to enriching my experience as a Patient Leader. WEGO is a fantastic organisation! They recently listed me as one of the top 5 bloggers to watch in 2018. This is great awareness and good feedback for my own efforts. Read more here. I have made the finals in the last 3 years and I was their winner in the 2016 Best in Show: Community and 2018 Best in Show: Blog announced on 26 Sep 2018. Check out my WEGO Health profile here.
wego blog 2018 winner
Click the picture to watch the video of the live announcements

Social Media and Stats

Blog Milestone. At the end of last month, I accelerated past 777,000 blog views! Thank you all so much Keep sharing! On track for one million in the latter half of 2019.

Facebook Milestone. Almost 7200 ‘Likes’ by the end of the end of last month but my projected numbers are down so far in 2018 (despite a 20% increase in blog hits). The Facebook page is now my biggest outlet for awareness and education so please recommend this page to anyone you think would be interested. There are buttons to share the page and invite others to ‘Like’ it.

Also check out my sister Facebook sites here (go to these pages and click on ‘Like’)

These are fallback sites to counter the Facebook algorithm whereby you may not see all my posts on the main site (click on the links to see the pages)

Ronny Allan’s Community

Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness and Networking

Instagram

I’m expanding into Instagram to see how that goes. I’ve amassed over 300 followers to date. Initially, I’ll just be posting pictures of things that inspire me, mostly scenic photos of places I’ve been or want to go! I really enjoy these pictures, I hope you do too. You can follow me here: Click here to go to my Instagram page

Community Statistics (the measurement of my efforts on your behalf)

Figures

Summary

An amazing amount of awareness and hopefully, support for others. However, I cannot do this without you guys liking, commenting and sharing! The likes give me motivation, the comments and private messages give me inspiration or at least a chance to explain further – and they also keep me humble. The sharing gives me a bigger platform. A bigger platform generates more awareness.

Thanks for your great support in last month. Onward and upwards!

Thanks for reading

Please Share this post

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

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Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life


Neuroendocrine Cancer – is normally slow growing BUT …..



I have a lot of be thankful for – I’m still here for starters!


BUT

……… here’s a list of 10 things I’m NOT thankful to Neuroendocrine Cancer for!

Thanks for growing inside me for years before making your vague announcement

Sorry too late, I’m metastatic and around 50% of patients will be at diagnosis (so I’m not alone!). It’s very SNEAKY!

No thanks for making a right mess inside my body!

I mean, I look really good, I look really well, but you should see my INSIDES

No thanks for generating fibrosis throughout my mesentery and retroperitoneum!

I really didn’t know what to make of this issue at diagnosis, although I did know the aorta was pretty important!  Fortunately I had a surgeon who had operated on many NET patients and has seen this issue before.  After my first surgery, he described it as a “dense fibrotic retroperitoneal reaction encircling his aorta and cava (inferior vena cava (IVC))”. My surgeon was known for difficult and extreme surgery, so as part of the removal of my primary, he also spent 3 hours dissecting out the retroperitoneal fibrosis surrounding these important blood vessels and managed 270 degree clearance. The remnant still shows on CT scans. Some of the removed tissue was tested and found to be benign, showing only florid inflammation and fibrosis (thankfully).  That said, the abstract papers above has led me to believe that my retroperitoneal fibrosis is clinically significant.  In fact I have spent the last 3 months worrying about some of it growing into reach of important vessels and only just been given the all clear (for now). 

fibrosis an unsolved mystery

No thanks for screwing up some of my hormones

There are many hormones involved with Neuroendocrine Cancer which is unique in that different types can result in elevated levels of different hormones, often more than one is involved.  Serotonin has caused fibrosis in my retroperitoneal area and is currently threatening important vessels. I don’t really need that right now!


No thanks for the ongoing symptoms and side effects

I was showing symptoms of a Neuroendocrine Cancer syndrome known as Carcinoid Syndrome (currently) such as flushing and diarrhea and fatigue was probably there too, but these were thought to be something else or ignored (by me).  I don’t suffer too much nowadays other than side effects of the disease or the treatment I’ve had or receiving.  However, I know from speaking to many patients the effects of the various syndromes associated with Neuroendocrine Cancer can be pretty debilitating and oppressive to quality of life.

These syndromes can be so strange and so weird, they can be very difficult for patients, nurses and doctors to treat. They can be a real ‘witch’s brew’.

Surveillance and treatment for life SUCKS!

But I need constant surveillance, it’ll keep me alive.

No thanks for the weight loss

As if I needed it

No thanks for the hypothyroidism

Another pill for life. I have a left-sided thyroid lesion and my treatment also messes with my hormone levels.

No thanks for increasing my diabetes risk

No thanks for pushing me into pre-diabetes. My blood sugar is spiking, most likely due to treatment.

No thanks for making me retire early

I loved my job but not if it was going to kill me. I made my own decision  based on how I could survive in a financial sense. Made easier as I was only 8 years from retirement but I guess I’m one of the lucky ones despite the fact I took a big hit on the income going into my bank account.

The truth is that many people still need to work whilst struggling with side effects of the cancer and its treatment. Getting some form of financial assistance from the government is not a done deal.

Neuroendocrine Cancer is a very expensive disease to treat.

This is fast becoming a big issue regardless of country and regardless of healthcare system in place. However, in privately funded healthcare, it can be exacerbated by the level of insurance cover. Read more about financial toxicity for cancer patients which is a growing problem worldwide.

……….. and no thanks to anyone who says it’s a “good cancer


Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. Help me build up my new site here – click here and ‘Like’

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Check out my Podcast Interview (click and press play)

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!


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patients included

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Pancreatic Cancer vs Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Pancreas

pancreatic vs neuroendocrine

I campaign hard for Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness including continually pointing out that a Neuroendocrine Cancer with a pancreatic primary is NOT Pancreatic Cancer as is often quoted in the press.  The two main reasons I take up these campaigns are as follows:

1.  They are totally different cancers despite an anatomical relationship.  Although they share some similar presentation, they have different signs, different treatments and vastly different prognostic outcomes.  What that means is that anyone who is looking for useful information on either needs to be very careful on interpretation, they could end up with very bad advice and in some situations, become more concerned than they should be (particularly with the prognostics).  See more below. 

2.  These two different cancer types have different awareness organisations, patient support groups and patient leaders/advocates. In most cases, vastly different awareness messages. Both of these organisations and advocates need all the help they can get, they need all the resources and funding they can get. 

Both Pancreatic Cancer and Neuroendocrine Cancer are diseases that need maximum publicity, both disease types have their own unique situations, thus why the awareness messages can be so vastly different.  It’s really important, therefore, that publicity surrounding famous patients be attributed to the correct cancer type in order that the advocate organisations and supporters can gain maximum benefit to forward their causes.  Unfortunately, thanks to doctors and media, this very often doesn’t work out in favour of Neuroendocrine Cancer due to the Human Anatomy of Neuroendocrine Cancer (this problem actually goes beyond the pancreas).

Where the press and doctors regularly get it wrong

Two famous people in particular, one in 2011 and the other this year, are regularly reported in the press as having died of Pancreatic Cancer.

Steve Jobs.  One of the most famous technical innovators of his time and creator of the most valuable company in the world. He had a Neuroendocrine Cancer with a pancreatic primary.  Read his story here.

steve-jobs-55-to-2011

Aretha Franklin. One of the most famous soul singers of her time.  She had a Neuroendocrine Cancer with a pancreatic primary. Read her story here.

rip-Aretha-Franklin-1

To summarise, Neuroendocrine Cancer is not a “type” of another cancer.

What are the differences? 

For me, one of the two main differences are the cell type. When people talk about Pancreatic Cancer, they really mean something known as “Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma”.  It starts in the exocrine cells, which produce enzymes to support digestion.  Neuroendocrine Tumors start in the endocrine cells which produce hormones.

For me, the other big difference is prognostics.  Unfortunately, it is statistically proven that most people with Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma will die, whereas most people with Neuroendocrine Tumors with a pancreatic primary will live.

For a more detailed comparison, see this excellent article from NET Research Foundation.

iStock-536892277-768x891
diagram courtesy of NET Research Foundation

Pancreatic Cancer – Why I support their campaigns

Personally speaking, as a healthcare advocate online, I do support many cancer awareness campaigns, I think this is important to get similar help coming the other way (this frequently works for me).  However, I very much suspect, other than Neuroendocrine Cancer, my biggest support area online is for Pancreatic Cancer.  I’m drawn by their excellent campaigns where they focus on key messages of prognostics for what is essentially a silent disease (in many ways the same issue with Neuroendocrine Cancer) and they make these more compelling by focusing on people rather than gimmicks. The prognostics can be upsetting reading as they are quite shocking figures which have not changed much in the past 40 years, a key sign that more must be done for this awful disease.   I frequently share this symptom graphic below because it might save a life and I ask that you do too.

pan can symptoms

 

Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook.  Like my page for even more news. Help me build up my new site here – click here and ‘Like’

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My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Check out my Podcast Interview (click and press play)

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

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RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter Covering October 2018


Summary for October 2018

NET News

Several headlines covering the past month:

1. The annual NANETS symposium took place last month and I constructed an article of several important outputs.  One day I might make it there, been to ENETS twice.  Would love to attend UKINETS but they don’t seem very ‘patient’ friendly.

2. I spoke alongside IPSEN Pharma SAS (Global HQ) at the annual Eye for Pharma Patient Summit. It was an honour and a privilege to stand in front of 200 people to tell my personal story plus my involvement in LivingWithNETs.com.  The audience was a mix of the Pharmaceutical industry, Healthcare industry and Patient Advocates from many different illnesses.  A fantastic and real awareness opportunity which is part of my promise to take NET awareness to new audiences rather than just share stuff between NET patients and advocates.

the best kind of story – a 2 legged one

3. I’m still reeling from winning the 2018 WEGO Blog Award and if you missed the live announcement, you can listen to the quite short video clip here.

Personal NET News

My NET. I still await the output from a meeting with my Oncologist and Surgeon to address the new issues identified my routine surveillance scan and a subsequent Ga68 PET/CT. Fortunately the issues are not classed as urgent at this stage. They have dismissed PRRT as an option at this stage (kept in reserve) and it looks like surgery might be on the cards.  You can read about my Ga68 PET/CT experience here and my fibrosis issues here.

Looking for Advice?

If you are reading this and you are currently undiagnosed but strongly suspect NETs – this article might help.

If you are diagnosed and looking for a NET Specialist and the sort of questions to ask – this article will help.

Blog Site Activity in September

Due to the vagaries of Facebook inner workings, some of these articles created or updated in the last month may not have even shown on your timeline. So, ICYMI …….here’s a summary with links, includes updated blogs. You can actually sign up to receive my blog articles direct to your inbox when published – subscribe here.

Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes: A Witch’s Brew.  My 2018 themed Halloween post with a serious awareness message.
How to talk to a cancer patient without being a complete twit – a serious but partly light hearted slant on communications with a cancer patient, includes doctor-patient communications.  Bonus article about signs you need a new doctor.
Living with Cancer – Worrier or Warrior ? worry and anxiety is common with cancer patients but can you worry too much to the point it is counter productive?  Even warriors can worry.
Short Update from NANETS 2018
On your Bike – personal story about trying to live better with cancer and its consequences
Your-favourite-articles-1.jpg Your favourite posts.  Revised list of anything above 5000 hits. I now have three articles with over 20,000 views.
September 2018 Newsletter in case you missed it.

There were many distractions in October 2018, I was very busy with Ipsen speaker stuff plus a holiday in Scotland but still managed over 32,000 views, the third biggest monthly figure. Here are the top 10 most read articles which contributed to last month’s figures:

Neuroendocrine Cancer – Trick or Treat? More stats 1,535
Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – Home Page More stats 1,116
Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes: A Witch’s Brew More stats 1,065
Steve Jobs – the most famous Neuroendocrine Cancer Ambassador we NEVER had More stats 866
Neuroendocrine Cancer Syndromes – Early Signs of a Late Diagnosis More stats 864
Neuroendocrine Cancer – Ronny Allan: Background to my Diagnosis and Treatment More stats 817
‘Chinese Dumplings’ and Neuroendocrine Cancer More stats 809
Neuroendocrine Cancer – Short Update from NANETS 2018 More stats 758
Ever wonder what caused your NET? More stats 722
Gallium 68 PET Scans – Into the Unknown More stats 708

Other Activity

I’m constantly looking for opportunities to spread awareness and advance the cause of Neuroendocrine Cancer patients. Thank you all so much for the support in helping me do this.

  • Please join my 2018 (but perpetual) awareness campaign event here (select ‘Going’)

  • I continue to receive a steady flow of private contacts, mainly from patients seeking information. I don’t have an issue with private contact but please note my disclaimer


  • Please also note that due to sheer numbers of requests, I cannot accept telephone or video calls on a one to one basis. Please just message me and I will respond – see “Send Message” button when you CLICK HERE. (also please ‘Like’ this page if you have not already done so). On a personal note, please do not send me friend requests on my personal Facebook page, I get so many and want to keep this little area of ‘sanity’ free of NET stuff. I have so many other sites you can contact me on – all inside the newsletter. The number of non-patients contacting me for other reasons (mainly to help with something) continues to grow and this is producing some great publicity and awareness.

Ronny Allan’s Private Facebook Group

As the number of people contacting me has increased so much, it’s becoming very difficult to answer all questions myself. I’ve therefore set up a chat room here (I’m not the only one who can answer questions!). This is not like many forums, it’s a place to make people feel safe and to discuss without many of the other distractions that can be found on forums and is moderated accordingly. I welcome all types of NET, people from any country and I also welcome carers/caregivers and medical people. It’s also a place where I will bring in expertise to chat about various issues. The first online chat was held on 28 Feb about the problems NET patients can have with being unable to produce sufficient digestive enzymes and the treatment to correct this issue PERT (Creon etc). The second chat will be about “Weight” and you can join the event by selecting ‘Going’ to this event (you will be kept up to date inside this event).
Join the chat group by clicking here (please answer the simple questions so you can be processed quicker). As at 31st October 2018, there were almost 2000 people in the group. 

New Audiences for NET Cancer

I said it was my aim to find new audiences for NETs rather than just share stuff within our own community. Sharing memes and animal pictures between patients is not my scene – I want to extend awareness much wider than that and with much wider and compelling messages, particularly to the outside world.  Doing that is a way to ensure we move away from being a niche condition that no-one has heard of. I’m doing this all the time, although it may not always be apparent.

Engagements and Invites

  • I spoke at the Eye for Pharma event in London alongside an important Pharma NET contact. See above.
  • I just received an invite to help build an educational tool for NETs. More to follow when I am at liberty to tell you.
  • I’ve accepted an appointment to the Strategic Advisory Board on MultiMed Inc the owner of Cancer Knowledge Network based in Canada who have featured my articles in the past (https://cancerkn.com/) – They also publishes a magazine called Current Oncology which is Medline listed. This is not a NET site but my inclusion will no doubt raise the profile for us. Read more here.
  • Cure Magazine. I’ve been accepted as a ‘Cure Today’ contributor which means my articles will get a wider distribution than they do now. Cure Magazine has a readership of 1 million. Click here to read more. In October, I was featured in Cure Magazine twice.
“Cancer isn’t all about me”
“Poker Face or Cancer Card”
  • Twitter. I’m ‘extremely’ active on twitter and I find a lot of research stuff there, in addition to new audiences. I also use it to support other conditions and it’s mostly returned (i.e. others help with NET awareness and are made aware of NETs in the process). There are people regularly retweeting my stuff who do not have a personal interest in NETs and I am now regularly copied in on many tweets by those wishing to use my account as a vehicle for dissemination. In the last month, I tweeted 190 times on my personal account which led to over 117,000 views of my tweets. I was mentioned 134 times by other tweeters, 1524 people looked at my profile (where it mentions NETs) and I gained 50 new followers. My tweet “Ignore this post” remains the most tweeted article about NETs ever posted on twitter. Check it out – click here.

WANT TO JOIN MY TWITTER ARMY?  Just ask. 

  • Daily Newsletter from my twitter feed (Nuzzel). There is so much on twitter that I could swamp the community Facebook site so I started a twitter newsletter via an app called Nuzzel which seeks out stuff I normally like. This has been a huge success from my point of view resulting in an increase in blog hits and to a wider population than just NETs. Click this link and sign up if you think this is something you’d be interested in receiving – you don’t need to have a twitter account to read, just sign up with an email to join over 630 other subscribers.
  • WEGO. I continue to be featured by ‘external’ organisations such as WEGO and my PODCAST is reaching new audiences – click here. In March, I managed to get into a very well contested short list for an article about the use of Facebook for health communities in light of the recent bad press for the service. The recent awards will continue to showcase my work which has the effect of spreading Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness to NEW audiences in addition to enriching my experience as a Patient Leader. WEGO is a fantastic organisation! They recently listed me as one of the top 5 bloggers to watch in 2018. This is great awareness and good feedback for my own efforts. Read more here. I have made the finals in the last 3 years and I was their winner in the 2016 Best in Show: Community and 2018 Best in Show: Blog announced on 26 Sep 2018. Check out my WEGO Health profile here.
wego blog 2018 winner
Click the picture to watch the video of the live announcements

Social Media and Stats

Blog Milestone. At the end of last month, I accelerated past 741,000 blog views! Thank you all so much Keep sharing! On track for one million in the latter half of 2019.

Facebook Milestone. Almost 7000 ‘Likes’ by the end of the end of last month but my projected numbers are down so far in 2018 (despite a 20% increase in blog hits). The Facebook page is now my biggest outlet for awareness and education so please recommend this page to anyone you think would be interested. There are buttons to share the page and invite others to ‘Like’ it.

Also check out my sister Facebook sites here (go to these pages and click on ‘Like’)

These are fallback sites to counter the Facebook algorithm whereby you may not see all my posts on the main site (click on the links to see the pages)

Ronny Allan’s Community

Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness and Networking

Instagram

I’m expanding into Instagram to see how that goes. I’ve amassed over 300 followers to date. Initially, I’ll just be posting pictures of things that inspire me, mostly scenic photos of places I’ve been or want to go! I really enjoy these pictures, I hope you do too. You can follow me here: Click here to go to my Instagram page

Community Statistics (the measurement of my efforts on your behalf)

Figures

Summary

An amazing amount of awareness and hopefully, support for others. However, I cannot do this without you guys liking, commenting and sharing! The likes give me motivation, the comments and private messages give me inspiration or at least a chance to explain further – and they also keep me humble. The sharing gives me a bigger platform. A bigger platform generates more awareness.

Thanks for your great support in last month. Onward and upwards!

Thanks for reading

Please Share this post

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life


Neuroendocrine Cancer: A Witch’s Brew of Signs and Symptoms


cancer growth

One of the key awareness messages for Neuroendocrine Cancer is the hormonal syndromes that can often accompany the diagnosis for many people.  As it’s a difficult disease to diagnose, many people struggle with these syndromes for some time before formal diagnosis of Neuroendocrine Cancer. Some continue to struggle after.

The cancer can often be uncannily quiet, but the tumours can be ‘functional’ and over-secrete certain hormones to add or introduce symptoms which mimic many other diseases or conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Menopause, Heart disease and Asthma.   In addition to common symptoms of flushing and diarrhea, others include generally feeling weak, fatigued, pain, agitated, anxious, dizzy, nauseous, acid reflux, skin irritation, anaemic, lose weight, gain weight, low blood sugar, high blood sugar, heart palpitations, headaches, sweating, high blood pressure. Its main trick is to prevent you from being correctly diagnosed and it’s pretty good at it.  For those looking for a diagnosis, it can be very frightening.

One or more of the NET syndromes can be a weird concoction of strange, powerful or terrifying ingredients, designed to make you very ill; and doctors will be confused. 

Certain types of Neuroendocrine Cancer were once referred to by the out of date term of ‘Carcinoid‘ – now correctly referred to as a NET prefixed by its anatomical primary location. For the time being, the term Carcinoid Syndrome associated with these types of NET persists and this is known to be capable of over secreting (amongst others) the vasoactive substance called serotonin. It is commonly thought that serotonin is the cause of the flushing, but this is only partially correct, the flushing also results from secretion of kallikrein, the enzyme that catalyzes a conversion to bradykinin, one of the most powerful vasodilators known.  Other components of the carcinoid syndrome are diarrhea, probably caused by the increased serotonin, which greatly increases peristalsis, leaving less time for fluid absorption, a pellagra-like syndrome, probably caused by diversion of large amounts of tryptophan from synthesis of the vitamin B3 (Niacin), which is needed for NAD production (oxidized form of B3). It also causes fibrotic lesions of the endocardium, particularly on the right side of the heart resulting in insufficiency of the tricuspid valve and, less frequently, the pulmonary valve and, uncommonly, bronchoconstriction. Other fibrosis spells include mesenteric and retroperitoneal desmoplasia which have the potential to dangerously obstruct important vessels and cause general discomfort at best.

 

serotonin

 

Carcinoid Syndrome is one of the most powerful and dangerous ‘witch’s brews’. 

The classic carcinoid syndrome includes flushing (80%), diarrhea (70%), abdominal pain (40%), valvular heart disease (40% to 45% but reduced to 20% since the introduction of somatostatin analogues), telangiectasia (25%), wheezing (15%), and pellagra-like skin lesions (5%). Carcinoid syndrome, first described in 1954 by Thorson and co-workers, has the following features: malignant neuroendocrine tumour of the small intestine, normally with metastases to the liver, sometimes with valvular disease of the right side of the heart (pulmonary stenosis and tricuspid insufficiency without septal defects), peripheral vasomotor symptoms, bronchial constriction, and an unusual type of cyanosis. One year later, Dr. William Bean gave the following colorful description of carcinoid syndrome:

“This witch’s brew of unlikely signs and symptoms, intriguing to the most fastidious connoisseur of clinical esoterica—the skin underwent rapid and extreme changes resembling in clinical miniature the fecal phantasmagoria of the aurora borealis.” 

Other witch’s brews include the group of NET syndromes associated with over-secretions of Insulin, Glucagon, Gastrin, Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide (VIP), Pancreatic Polypeptide (PP) and Somatostatin.  Read more about these and other syndromes here.

NET Syndromes

One of the most scary witch’s brews is the group of symptoms associated with one of the most uncommon types of NET, the catecholamine and metanephrine (adrenaline and noradrenaline) secreting tumours known as Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma. These tumours are likely to cause a barrage of symptoms such as High blood pressure, Heavy sweating, Headache, Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), Tremors, Paleness in the face (pallor) and Shortness of breath (dyspnea).

spotlight on pheo para

All of the above is a diagnostic nightmare for those who have the symptoms and remain undiagnosed – no fun for the doctors either – this why we need so much more awareness and education – it’s one of the key aims of all my social media sites.  Another aim of my sites is to support those who are diagnosed as these symptoms can continue following diagnosis and treatment. Many NET patients need constant surveillance and follow-up, many for life.

This is a very spooky disease, it will slowly grow without you knowing, it will mess with your body and mind, and if left alone to plot its devious and destructive course, it will kill.  Some are faster growing but they have the same traits – they just kill faster.  Share this post and potentially save a life.

Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Read my Cure Magazine contributions

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

Ronny Allan is an award winning patient leader and advocate for Neuroendocrine Cancer.

 

 

 

Living with Cancer – Worrier or Warrior?


WORRIER OR WARRIOR (2)

If you only believe what you see on social media, you would probably classify cancer patients into two main groups, warriors or worriers.  I guess people have, or adopt, these traits from their cancer experience but I suspect many people are simply ‘wired’ that way.  I also believe there are many people who have a bit of both, perhaps slanting to mostly warrior or worrier, I mean who doesn’t worry about a single thing?  However, the extent of worrying can often have a negative effect on quality of life. You’re not going to stop worrying by simply reading this article but if you read no further, at least check out the lead graphic, it might help putting things into perspective.

Warriors

I used to do that for a living so I guess I’m an automatic fit, right? Believe it or not, professional ‘warriors’ also worry about stuff but they don’t like showing it (one of the reasons there are serious PTSD issues happening currently).

Despite the protests at the use of ‘war’ metaphors, many cancer patients do see themselves as ‘warriors’.  People probably label me as one but …… spoiler alert, behind my positive exuding exterior, there’s a man worried about a problem which might decrease quality of life and also a man worried about potential surgery most likely needed to correct the issue. We all worry but it’s the way we handle stress that is important.  Not talking about it is never a good option.

poker face
Poker Face or Cancer Card

I also think ‘Warriors’ can sometimes be complacent and for a cancer patient, this can be detrimental to their health.  In a previous life, nothing was going to stop me getting on with life, nothing was going to stop me going to work, nothing was going to stop me completing my mission.  One day, some of my co-workers complained about my constant sneezing, coughing and sniffing. I told them the only way I was leaving the building would be on a stretcher having lost consciousness or in a body bag.   I said it whilst I continued typing up a report which was my mission for that day.  I said it without any hint of joviality in order they knew that I was deadly serious.  Little did I know that my ‘poker face’ was just about to become seriously deadly.

We’ve all read the blogs and memes on Facebook…. ‘kicking cancer’s ass‘, etc etc. There’s even twitter handles, Facebook sites, blog names all with the word ‘warrior’ in the title. Nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with having a positive attitude. The only thing potentially wrong with that, is becoming too complacent about the danger of cancer. Cancer will kill you whether you are a ‘warrior’ or a ‘worrier’.

Worriers

I come into contact with a lot of Neuroendocrine Cancer patients, either from a thread in my group, my blog site or my Facebook site(s).  I get a substantial amount of private messages from patients including on twitter. Many of them are from people who are ‘worried’ – these can often be the toughest conversations I have.

People have many different reasons for worrying ,and there can be totally different factors involved at diagnosis than those surfacing during and after treatment. We worry about a diagnosis and what it actually means, we worry about the treatment we are given, and then we worry about the cancer coming back, this is all very natural. Some people have taken a considerable amount of time to get a diagnosis and their stress levels are already high.  Some are young with a long life ahead of them, that is really tough. Some have young children and are worried about their future as well as their own, that is also really tough. There are many other scenarios adding further layers of complexity to an individual’s situation.

I have no magic answer for someone who is constantly worried except to say that they must do something about it as it’s not a good place to be.  I once dabbled in this area by writing an article with 8 tips for conquering fear, this was specifically aimed at my own cancer type but I guess it could apply to many others.

Many cancers are not as ‘black and white’ as a lot of people think, i.e. you are diagnosed, it is treated, you are observed, you are cured.  Neuroendocrine Cancer is quite definitely a ‘grey’ cancer, i.e. many people take some time to be diagnosed, many are diagnosed at the incurable stage, the treatment regimes differ depending on the primary, stage, grade and many other factors, you are observed for much longer periods than the average cancer patient, perhaps for life, and for many, there is no cure.

For those with incurable conditions, the stress levels can be higher and for longer, potentially leading to other illnesses. The psychological impact of long-term cancer is a developing but as yet unmet need in the Neuroendocrine world and I suspect elsewhere.

Don’t forget the carers and caregivers.  I think a lot of carers/caregivers can also be under some stress and worry, I certainly see this a lot in the Neuroendocrine community.

Summary

I think there’s a fine line between being a ‘warrior’ or a ‘worrier’ and I believe many people flit between the two quite easily.  I think many people might actually be in the middle ground, having accepted their diagnosis, decided it was just another chronic illness and try to live life as best they can.

Cancer can be a very individual disease, not just the different types and sub-types, but also stages, grades, pre-existing medical issues, age, gender. To add to the mix, I think it’s also true to say that how people handle the stress, how people cope is another dimension to be considered.

For those who are predominately ‘warriors’, please don’t forget to look after yourself.  For those who are predominantly ‘worriers’, the lead graphic might help put things into perspective.

Take care all

 

Thanks for reading

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook.  Like my page for even more news.  I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

Read my Cure Magazine contributions

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

Please Share this post

 

 

RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter Covering September 2018

Newsletter Sep 18

Summary for September 2018

NET News

Several headlines covering the past month:

1. The annual NANETS symposium kicks off in a few days. I’m hoping to bring you news from the event (remotely, I won’t be there) and perhaps a summary in next month’s newsletter.

2. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a proposal on their desk to harmonise the grading structure for all types of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (NEN). I’ve actually been ahead of the game for over a year since I found out this was coming and it’s reflected in my 18 month old post on Staging and Grading. Be careful where you look as many are still behind the curve on this issue. Their proposals are interesting as they are recommending the final removal of the last vestiges of the word ‘Carcinoid‘, something I’ve been pushing for in the community for some time. I’ll be constructing a new article confirming some of the detail in due course. Watch this space.

3. This very old news from 2007 has resurfaced – an autopsy on former US President Eisenhower confirmed he had a Pheochromocytoma after suffering from heart issues for some time prior to his death. Nonetheless, good publicity for Neuroendocrine Cancer. Read my Pheochromocytoma article here.

Personal NET News

My NET. I still await the output from a meeting with my Oncologist and Surgeon to address the new issues identified my routine surveillance scan and a subsequent Ga68 PET/CT. Fortunately the issues are not classed as urgent at this stage. I think they are still consulting with London on the feasibility of trying PRRT first. You can read about my Ga68 PET/CT experience here and my fibrosis issues here.

Looking for Advice?

If you are reading this and you are currently undiagnosed but strongly suspect NETs – this article might help.

If you are diagnosed and looking for a NET Specialist – this article will help and it also includes 10 questions to ask.

Blog Site Activity in September

Due to the vagaries of Facebook inner workings, some of these articles created or updated in the last month may not have even shown on your timeline. So, ICYMI …….here’s a summary with links, includes updated blogs. You can actually sign up to receive my blog articles direct to your inbox when published – subscribe here.

don't worry it's benign widescreen Don’t worry, it’s benign! An article about the dangers in assuming that all NETs are benign. All NETs have malignant potential.
Diabetes The NET Effect Diabetes – the NET Effect. Latest article in the “NET Effect” series.
Diagnosing the undiagnosed Diagnosing the Undiagnosed. An article designed to give those looking for a diagnosis, some questions to ask with references. Plus other advice
A Neuroendocrine Tumour is NOT Neuroendocrine Cancer is not a type of another Cancer….. PERIOD! A follow on from the Aretha Franklin article to emphasise that Neuroendocrine Cancer is a cancer in its own right.
Newsletter Aug 18 RonnyAllan.NET – Community Newsletter August – in case you missed it.
Your-favourite-articles-1.jpg Your favourite posts. The numbers are so big so the list is now too long – revised list now for anything above 5000 hits. I now have two articles with over 20,000 views.
lets raise our sites Let’s raise our “sites” – twist on the word sights to indicate we need to keep on letting people know that a NET in a particular part of the anatomy should not be called that anatomical cancer. The change in graphic seems to have made this more popular.

There have been many distractions in September 2018, I was very busy with WEGO Health stuff but still managed 25,000 views. Here are the top 10 most read articles which contributed to last month’s figures:

Neuroendocrine Cancer is not a ‘type’ of another Cancer ….. PERIOD! More stats 1,279
Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – Home Page More stats 1,212
Diagnosing the Undiagnosed More stats 942
Neuroendocrine Cancer – tumour markers and hormone levels More stats 913
Neuroendocrine Cancer – normally slow but always sneaky More stats 785
Diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer? – 10 questions to ask your doctor (and where to find a NET Specialist) More stats 760
Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Article 2 – Gastrointestinal Malabsorption More stats 635
Neuroendocrine Cancer – let’s raise our ‘sites’ More stats 618
Neuroendocrine Cancer – Ronny Allan: Background to my Diagnosis and Treatment More stats 610
Diabetes – The NET Effect More stats 593

Other Activity

I’m constantly looking for opportunities to spread awareness and advance the cause of Neuroendocrine Cancer patients. Thank you all so much for the support in helping me do this.

  • Please join my 2018 awareness campaign event here (select ‘Going’)

  • I continue to receive a steady flow of private contacts, mainly from patients seeking information. I don’t have an issue with private contact but please note my disclaimer
  • Please also note that due to sheer numbers of requests, I cannot accept telephone or video calls on a one to one basis. Please just message me and I will respond – see “Send Message” button when you CLICK HERE. (also please ‘Like’ this page if you have not already done so). On a personal note, please do not send me friend requests on my personal Facebook page, I get so many and want to keep this little area of ‘sanity’ free of NET stuff. I have so many other sites you can contact me on – all inside the newsletter. The number of non-patients contacting me for other reasons (mainly to help with something) continues to grow and this is producing some great publicity and awareness.

Ronny Allan’s Private Facebook Group

As the number of people contacting me has increased so much, it’s becoming very difficult to answer all questions myself. I’ve therefore set up a chat room here (I’m not the only one who can answer questions!). This is not like many forums, it’s a place to make people feel safe and to discuss without many of the other distractions that can be found on forums and is moderated accordingly. I welcome all types of NET, people from any country and I also welcome carers/caregivers and medical people. It’s also a place where I will bring in expertise to chat about various issues. The first online chat was held on 28 Feb about the problems NET patients can have with being unable to produce sufficient digestive enzymes and the treatment to correct this issue PERT (Creon etc). The second chat will be about “Weight” and you can join the event by selecting ‘Going’ to this event (you will be kept up to date inside this event).
Join the chat group by clicking here (please answer the simple questions so you can be processed quicker). As at 1st October 2018, there were almost 1900 people in the group. I might cap at 2000 to maintain the integrity of the site.

New Audiences for NET Cancer

I said it was my aim to find new audiences for NETs rather than just share stuff within our own community. Sharing memes and animal pictures between patients is not my scene – I want to extend awareness much wider than that to ensure we move away from being a niche condition that no-one has heard of. I’m doing this all the time, although it may not always be apparent.

Engagements and Invites

  • I’m working on an invite to attend a pharma event in October at the guest of a major pharma company. I will update you when I’m allowed to release details but I can tell you now I will be speaking at the Eye for Pharma event in London alongside an important Pharma NET contact.
  • I just received an invite to help build an educational tool for NETs. More to follow when I am at liberty to tell you.
  • In July, I continued a dialogue in a patient app development coordinated by NET Patient Foundation. That said, I missed the meeting due to illness. I’m on the project team and happy to help if I can. I always react positively to requests for help from INCA’s national NET affiliates, providing I have the bandwidth available to support and it meets with my association criteria.
  • I’ve accepted an appointment to the Strategic Advisory Board on MultiMed Inc the owner of Cancer Knowledge Network based in Canada who have featured my articles in the past (https://cancerkn.com/) – They also publishes a magazine called Current Oncology which is Medline listed. This is not a NET site but my inclusion will no doubt raise the profile for us. Read more here.
  • Cure Magazine. I’ve been accepted as a ‘Cure Today’ contributor which means my articles will get a wider distribution than they do now. Cure Magazine has a readership of 1 million. Click here to read more. In October, I was featured in Cure Magazine twice. I have been so busy in 2017 but I have plans to increase my presence there in 2018:
“Cancer isn’t all about me”
“Poker Face or Cancer Card”
  • Twitter. I’m ‘extremely’ active on twitter and I find a lot of research stuff there, in addition to new audiences. I also use it to support other conditions and it’s mostly returned (i.e. others help with NET awareness and are made aware of NETs in the process). There are people regularly retweeting my stuff who do not have a personal interest in NETs and I am now regularly copied in on many tweets by those wishing to use my account as a vehicle for dissemination. In the last month, I tweeted 220 times on my personal account which led to over 140,000 views of my tweets. I was mentioned 145 times by other tweeters, 1648 people looked at my profile and I gained 74 new followers. My tweet “Ignore this post” remains the most tweeted article about NETs ever posted on twitter. Check it out – click here.
  • Daily Newsletter from my twitter feed (Nuzzel). There is so much on twitter that I could swamp the community Facebook site so I started a twitter newsletter via an app called Nuzzel which seeks out stuff I normally like. This has been a huge success from my point of view resulting in an increase in blog hits and to a wider population than just NETs. Click this link and sign up if you think this is something you’d be interested in receiving – you don’t need to have a twitter account to read, just sign up with an email to join over 600 other subscribers.
  • WEGO. I continue to be featured by ‘external’ organisations such as WEGO and my PODCAST is reaching new audiences – click here. In March, I managed to get into a very well contested short list for an article about the use of Facebook for health communities in light of the recent bad press for the service. The recent awards will continue to showcase my work which has the effect of spreading Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness to NEW audiences in addition to enriching my experience as a Patient Leader. WEGO is a fantastic organisation! They recently listed me as one of the top 5 bloggers to watch in 2018. This is great awareness and good feedback for my own efforts. Read more here. I have made the finals in the last 3 years and I was their winner in the 2018 Best in Show: Blog announced on 26 Sep 2018. Check out my WEGO Health profile here.
wego blog 2018 winner
Click the picture to watch the video of the live announcements

Social Media and Stats

Blog Milestone. At the end of last month, I accelerated past 709,000 blog views! Thank you all so much Keep sharing! On track for one million in the latter half of 2019.

Facebook Milestone. Almost 6800 ‘Likes’ by the end of the end of last month but my projected numbers are down so far in 2018 (despite a 20% increase in blog hits). The Facebook page is now my biggest outlet for awareness and education so please recommend this page to anyone you think would be interested. There are buttons to share the page and invite others to ‘Like’ it.

Also check out my sister Facebook sites here (go to these pages and click on ‘Like’)

These are fallback sites to counter the Facebook algorithm whereby you may not see all my posts on the main site (click on the links to see the pages)

Ronny Allan’s Community

Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness and Networking

Instagram

I’m expanding into Instagram to see how that goes. I’ve amassed over 300 followers to date. Initially, I’ll just be posting pictures of things that inspire me, mostly scenic photos of places I’ve been or want to go! I really enjoy these pictures, I hope you do too. You can follow me here: Click here to go to my Instagram page

Community Statistics (the measurement of my efforts on your behalf)

Figures

Summary

An amazing amount of awareness and hopefully, support for others. However, I cannot do this without you guys liking, commenting and sharing! The likes give me motivation, the comments and private messages give me inspiration or at least a chance to explain further – and they also keep me humble. The sharing gives me a bigger platform. A bigger platform generates more awareness.

Thanks for your great support in last month. Onward and upwards!

Thanks for reading

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Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. I’m also building up this site here: Ronny Allan

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Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life

 

Don’t worry, it’s benign!



OPINION

One of the most controversial aspects of Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) is the ‘benign vs malignant’ question. It’s been widely debated and it frequently patrols the various patient forums and other social media platforms. It raises emotions and it triggers many responses ….. at least from those willing to engage in the conversation. At best, this issue can cause confusion, at worst, it might contradict what new patients have been told by their physicians (….or not been told). This post will not cover Neuroendocrine Carcinoma which by definition is malignant.

Any definition of the word ‘tumour’ will confirm it can either be benign or malignant. However, and while I’m sure there are benign NETs, the key statement to explain any slow growing or indolent NET is that they all have malignant potential – thus why surveillance and follow up is really important. This is the key factor in the changes found in the 2010 Digestive System World Health Organisation (WHO) classification system from the previous ‘flaky’ version. This reinforcement of the malignant potential of all NETs was duplicated in the recent 2017 Endocrine System equivalent, which is now proposed as a classification scheme for all NETs (see below).

“Carcinoid”

Of course we are not helped by the continued use of the term Carcinoid which decodes to ‘Cancer Like’ – that is potentially regressing the work of those specialists who are trying to undo the last 100 years of complacency in the medical world (and not really the type of awareness we need). The word is gradually being erased from NET nomenclature and the recent 2018 proposal by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and WHO NET expert consensus panel to ditch it from the remaining versions of out of date WHO classifications (e.g. Pulmonary/Lung, Pituitary, Head & Neck, Genito-urinary, Adrenal and Paraganglia, Skin), is the final nail in the coffin for Carcinoid. RIP Carcinoid. This also supports our awareness issues with the media reporting the wrong cancer types based on anatomy of the primary tumour. Dear Doctors, Patient Advocates and Patients ….. please stop using the word!

I have lost count of the stories from Neuroendocrine Cancer patients who have been told their tumour was benign but then returned with incurable and metastatic cancer sometime downstream. Clearly there are doctors who do not understand NETs and/or are not aware of the changes in WHO classification schemes since 2010. Sure, some will prove to be ‘benign’ in nature and may not cause many issues but any Ki-67 below 3% is a formal grade of Neuroendocrine Neoplasm. I accept that it’s currently difficult to work out which cases will turn more aggressive and when, thus why surveillance and follow up are really important and also why patients should be seeing doctors who understand NETs. Worth also noting that many slow growing and indolent tumors can still often produce troublesome NET syndromes.

I’ve even heard one patient story where it was claimed a doctor called a metastatic NET case benign! Any definition of ‘benign’ on any respectable cancer site, will include the statement that they do not spread to other parts of the body. The NET Patient world is full of slow growing Grade 1 Stage 4 patients – by definition, they’re all malignant.

Read more detail in these articles as these issues are inextricably linked.

‘Benign vs Malignant’.
‘Carcinoid vs Neuroendocrine’
‘The Invisible NET Patient Population’
‘Staging and Grading’

I’m sure there are scenarios in all cancers where tumours can be benign and will never harm the person but if a Doctor says you have a Neuroendocrine Tumour and not to worry because it’s benign, ask questions.  Start with “how do you know it will never turn malignant” and “what will be done going forward to check”. 

Thanks for listening

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook.  Like my page for even more news. Please also support my other site – click here and ‘Like’

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Most Popular Posts

Sign up for my twitter newsletter

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Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!


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