WEGO Health Patient Leader: Ronny Allan – Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer

WEGO Health Patient Leader: Ronny Allan – Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
WEGO Health has the largest network of patient leaders in the world.  Every year they recognise them via their renowned awards process. I first discovered them in 2016 and decided to apply.  As at 2021, I have now won 3 awards, been in 8 finals following around 27 nominations for various categories. WEGO Health and many of their patient leaders now know about Neuroendocrine Cancer.  The story of WEGO Health and my experience with them is outlined below.  I encourage you to watch the 2021 announcements below, so inspiring.  The 2021 awards were special because all records were broken in terms of nominees.  From 21,000, that had to be reduced to just 96, 6 in each of 16 categories.  It's quite a feat just to get into the finals and…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – not average, just mean

Neuroendocrine Cancer – not average, just mean

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Most people have perceptions of cancer in their heads, fairly fixed perceptions too. They think about all the stuff they see daily on TV, in the main press, and people they know. The big cancers set the scene.Most doctors know about big cancers. They also know how to treat them, many of them have a fairly fixed regime of surgery/chemotherapy/radiotherapy. Many survivors will have side effects of their treatments, e.g. perhaps temporarily losing their hair. More people are now surviving these cancers and many will be declared disease-free or placed into some sort of remission status (no evidence of disease is a common term I see).Most NETs are not like that! Whilst it has a reputation for being a generally slow-growing type of tumour at the lower grades (but very…
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Not every illness is visible

Not every illness is visible

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
I personally don't see myself as 'disabled' but I do have an invisible illness. I'm fit, can walk for miles, I even look quite healthy.  However, I live with the consequences of Neuroendocrine Cancer. These consequences differ from person to person but I know that some people with this disease have even met the criteria to be officially classed as 'disabled' through government schemes.  Judging by what I read, I have less debilitating issues than others, so I feel quite fortunate. That's not to say I don't have any issues at all - because I do! [caption id="attachment_13469" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Situation normal, right?[/caption] I was therefore delighted to see news of an initiative supporting invisible illnesses by Asda (for those outside UK, Asda is a major UK wide supermarket chain).  Asda have now recognised that many conditions can be classed as ‘invisible disabilities’ and…
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Somatostatin Receptors

Somatostatin Receptors

Awareness, Treatment
Don't understand Somatostatin Receptors? Join the club! I got my head around the term 'Somatostatin' and 'Somatostatin Analogues' some time ago but the term 'Somatostatin Receptor' (SSTR) is still a bit of a mystery. SSTRs do come up in conversation quite often and I'm fed up of nodding sagely hoping it will eventually become clear! On analysis it looks like a technical subject - and therefore a challenge.I've taken a logical approach working from 'Somatostatin' to 'Somatostatin Analogue' before commencing on the 'receptor' bit. It is intentionally brief and (hopefully) simplistic!SomatostatinIt's important to understand this hormone and then why your 'butt dart' is generically called a 'Somatostatin Analogue'.Some Neuroendocrine Tumours secrete hormones and peptides that cause distinct clinical syndromes, including but not limited to, carcinoid syndrome.Somatostatin is a naturally occurring…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Troublesome Thyroids

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Troublesome Thyroids

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
In 2013, just when I thought everything seemed to be under control, I was told I had a 'lesion' on the left upper lobe of my thyroid.  At the time, it was a bit of a shock as I had already been subjected to some radical surgery and wondered if this was just part of the relentless march of metastatic NET disease.  The thyroid gland does in fact get mentioned frequently in NET patient discussions but many of the conversations I monitored didn't seem to fit my scenario - cue relentless study! I've been meaning to write this blog for some time but here is a synopsis of my research translated into 'patient speak'.  This is intentionally brief, it's a big subject.  I'll finish off with an update on where I…
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What you don’t know might kill you

What you don’t know might kill you

Awareness, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_16224" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Barbados heaven but I was oblivious to the fact that cancer was trying to kill me[/caption] A few weeks before I was diagnosed in July 2010, Chris and I flew off to Barbados on holiday.  Both of us were looking forward to a nice break after a hectic start to 2010.  When we got back, we both agreed it was the most relaxing holiday we had ever been on. However, what I didnt know all the time I was lying on a sunbed soaking up the Caribbean sun drinking 'pina coladas', was the fact that Neuroendocrine Tumours had been growing in my small intestine, had spread into my mesenteric lymph nodes, into my liver, into my left armpit and into my left clavicle area.  I also had…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – it can be ‘smoke and mirrors’

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
In a previous life, I used the term 'smoke and mirrors' quite a bit.  I was used to dealing with many different types of people, some who wanted something, some who wanted to buy or sell something. Most of the time it was overt but the devil was usually in the detail.  Sometimes there was an element of 'covertness' or a 'hidden agenda'.  It was always tricky working out the details of the hidden agenda and sometimes it was only known when it was too late.  Some of you will already be seeing where I'm going with this line of thinking - if so, you worked out my hidden agenda! 'Smoke and Mirrors' is basically a term connected to the art of deception, a con trick, a way in through confusion and…
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Intra-Operative RadioTheraphy (IORT) for Neuroendocrine Cancer – new landmark treatment launch

Awareness, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_6231" align="aligncenter" width="500"] IORT[/caption] New treatments seem to be appearing every month and that is good news for patients.  I have a personal connection to this one though.  In 2014, Chris and I walked along Hadrian's Wall, a 2,000-year-old World Heritage structure in Northern England.  This was part therapy for me but also part fund-raising to help pay for this new treatment which launches today in Southampton General Hospital (UK) which was recently awarded the coveted title of European NET Centre of Excellence (along with Bournemouth and Portsmouth Hospitals).  It is the first ever deployment of this type of treatment in UK and Chris and I were happy to shred the soles of our feet to support this worthy cause, particularly when the two guys behind the idea were my surgeon (Mr Neil…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer:  Make some noise for this silent cancer

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Make some noise for this silent cancer

Awareness
Reviewed and updated 28th September 2021 OPINION: One of the key aims of my blog is to create more awareness of Neuroendocrine Cancer, its peculiarities, its effects, its ability to deceive, its ability to kill if left undetected and/or untreated; and its impact on Quality of Life (QoL). There are millions of people out there doing similar with thousands of other conditions. That means even to stand out a little, messages must be compelling, must attract attention; and must catch people's interest. Unfortunately, many campaigns I see are outdated, based on flawed themes from the 1980s and as a consequence, awareness of Neuroendocrine Cancer stands still. In the last 72 months, I've generated a few 'different' awareness campaigns, some of which have been more successful than others and I learn…
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It’s scary searching Cancer online

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
[caption id="attachment_6092" align="alignnone" width="500"] that's me in the middle[/caption] When my diagnosing specialist suggested I had Neuroendocrine Cancer, he also told me not to go online whilst we awaited the results of the liver biopsy. I completely ignored that and went online! I very quickly discovered why he said that because the Neuroendocrine Cancer information online in 2010 was indeed scary, despite me being a very experienced user of computers and the internet; and despite me being to some extent, an information worker. It's not just knowing where to look, it's also about the interpretation and knowing what is current and what is out of date.  As a novice NET patient, I found out my 5-year survival rate was only 38%.  It looked like a credible site but I now…
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Living with Cancer – Turning points

Living with Cancer – Turning points

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
[gallery type="square" ids="16946,16947,16934,16935,16936,16937,16938,16939,16940,16941,16942,16943,16944,16945"] In 2014, Chris and I completed the 84-mile route of 2000 year old World Heritage site of 'Hadrian's Wall' in Northern England. Some people saw this is a charity walk and a chance to make some money for a good cause. It was. However, it was MUCH MORE than that. Much much more. A few months before this trek, I had come to a crossroads and I was unsure which direction to go. That anguish and a thousand other things were contributing to a degradation of my overall health, it felt threatening. I was not that long out of the main treatments for my metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer and it was still a delicate period as I waited for signs of some stability. I was getting into some…
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The 5 E’s (of Carcinoid Syndrome)

The 5 E’s (of Carcinoid Syndrome)

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Since my diagnosis, I seem to have been in a perpetual learning phase! What not to do, what not to eat, what not to read! However, early on in my experience, I came across a list of 'E' words (5 of them) which is a handy reminder for Carcinoid Syndrome patients, particularly those whose symptoms are not under control. When I say "carcinoid syndrome" in this article, I only mean the syndrome that is caused by what was once called "Carcinoid Tumors", i.e. mainly serotonin secreting types but include tumours which are well differentiated found in the small intestine, appendiceal, rectal, lung, and one or two other less common places. There are many variations of this list, but this is my take! I suspect some of this also applies to…
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Never mind the Bollocks – here’s the cancer

Never mind the Bollocks – here’s the cancer

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email [caption id="attachment_15574" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Graphics courtesy of The Sex Pistols[/caption]I don't tend to share some very personal stuff but this is on the boundary of that rule and there are some important messages to be teased out.  For those who follow my blog in detail, you may remember the post entitled "Neuroendocrine Cancer - Signs, Suspicions, Symptoms, Syndromes, Side-Effects, Secondary Illnesses, Comorbidities, and Coincidences" (now named "a difficult jigsaw)   As you can see from the title, I got hooked on a bunch of 'synonyms' that represent the difficulty in sorting out what can be attributed to Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) and what might be something else.  You'll note they all begin with the…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – unexpected detours

Neuroendocrine Cancer – unexpected detours

Awareness, Inspiration
I've mentioned 'luck' a few times in the past month following some more 'cancerversary' milestones - these tend to make me reflect on my experience.  Even though I was metastatic at diagnosis, I think of myself as lucky on the basis that my tumours were found by 'chance', or to be more accurate, found following an innocuous set of circumstances.  Click here to hear me talk about my diagnosis. As we know, Neuroendocrine Cancer can sometimes be very difficult to discover and diagnose. However, sometimes with a bit of luck or a chance event, it can be intercepted and can then often lead to a much better outlook for the person concerned.  But sometimes there is also a cost and I don't just mean financial (although that is also a very real problem).  Despite me thinking I…
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Somatostatin Analogues and delivery methods in the pipeline

Somatostatin Analogues and delivery methods in the pipeline

Awareness, Clinical Trials, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
This is my live blog post covering new developments in the area of new Somatostatin Analogues and new delivery systems.  Abstract As most of you will be aware, there are currently two main types of Somatostatin Analogues (SSA) in use for the treatment of mainstream Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) - Octreotide and Lanreotide.  You can click on the links for information on both of these well-known NET treatments.  This post will focus on the not so well known and anything in the pipeline including different delivery systems. Those who have read the Octreotide/ Lanreotide patient leaflets will know those SSAs are also used in the treatment of a condition known as Acromegaly. You can see why the drug is used for both as they control the release of excess secretions of…
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Dear Doctors – There’s no such thing as a ‘good’ cancer!

Dear Doctors – There’s no such thing as a ‘good’ cancer!

Awareness
At a follow-up meeting during my diagnostic phase in July 2010, the specialist who was investigating my pre-diagnosis secondary care appointment, was clearly suspicious that I had cancer. As the results of my liver biopsy were not yet in, he was not in a position to declare his findings.  However, following my revelation about flushing during this meeting, he immediately guessed the biopsy would confirm Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET).  I can't remember much of the conversation but I vividly remember him indicating that of all the issues out there to get, this was one of the better ones.  He was using a meter analogy action with his hands swinging towards the 'good' reading!  I hadn't gone there that day to receive a cancer diagnosis but he was clearly trying to put me at ease and I'm sure it was with the best…
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Running in the Family – Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN)

Running in the Family – Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN)

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
This is an overview, if you require detail, try my more comprehensive post by clicking here or on the picture[caption id="attachment_38157" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Click on the picture to read more[/caption]OverviewWe all know that Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) and their syndromes are complex but there is even more complexity to be found in a group of related disorders known as Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN).  I recommend all NET patients should try to understand the basics of MEN and vice versa, particularly as both conditions seem to come with a plethora of endocrine-related effects.MEN patients will normally have a tumour in at least two endocrine glands - thus the terms 'Multiple' and 'Endocrine' (tumours can also develop in other organs and tissues).  Neoplasia is just another name for tumour and these can be non-cancerous (benign) or…
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Carcinoid – What’s in a name?

Carcinoid – What’s in a name?

Awareness
A quick primer on the word 'CARCINOID'.  It originates from the term 'Carcinoma-like'.  'CARCIN' is a truncation of Carcinoma (by definition cancerous or malignant tumour). 'OID' is a suffix meaning 'resembling' or 'like'.  This infers that Carcinoid cannot be a truly malignant tumour - thus the confusion (..... and anger!). The most worrying connotation of the use of the word ‘Carcinoid’ is the belief that they all have benign clinical and biological behaviour.  That is dangerous thinking which could end up killing people. There is now widespread use of the term Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) and this is based on the latest classification scheme pushed out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2010 subsequently updated by WHO 2017.  The correct term for all types is actually Neuroendocrine Neoplasm (NEN) which is an umbralla…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – Incurable is not untreatable

Neuroendocrine Cancer – Incurable is not untreatable

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
OPINION. When I was being officially told I had advanced and incurable cancer, I did what most people seem to do on films/TV ..... I asked "how long do I have".  The Oncologist started off with " ... perhaps just months ........".  That must have been quite a shock because for a few moments after that, I heard nothing - my brain was clearly still trying to process those words - I wasn't even feeling unwell! The really important bit I missed was him go on to say "...but with the right treatment, you should be able to live for a lot longer".  Fortunately, my wife Chris heard it all and I was refocused.  "OK Doc - let's go" I said.  Always take someone with you to take notes at important meetings with…
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Ignore this post about Neuroendocrine Cancer

Ignore this post about Neuroendocrine Cancer

Awareness
When I was diagnosed, I wasn't feeling ill. In hindsight, I now know some of the signs were there, I just put up with them. Neuroendocrine Cancer had laid a trap for me and I fell right into it. You see, Neuroendocrine Cancer can be very quiet and unobtrusive. It also plays the 'long game' and will sometimes take years before it's finally discovered.  It is very very very sneaky.Not satisfied with loitering in your small intestine, appendix, lungs, stomach, pancreas and a host of other places, it wants to reach out to your liver, your lymph nodes, your bones, bung you up with fibrosis, and get into your heart where it can cause the most damage. It will also try to get into your head, metaphorically speaking - however, it will also…
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Not all cancers are black, white, blue, pink – some are very grey

Not all cancers are black, white, blue, pink – some are very grey

Awareness
OPINION Over the last few months, I've seen quite a few posts entitled "Not all Cancer is pink".  I suspect it's a reference to the ubiquitous publicity that many women's cancer-related advocates, bloggers and organisations attract. Although, whether this is publicity that reflects reality or actually works, is another thing Those who use this phrase are perhaps concerned there is an imbalance and inherent unfairness in the distribution of support and are frustrated that their own cancer does not fare as well publicly? I share that frustration, however, I take my hat off to the battalions of advocates, bloggers and organisations who work very hard for breast and the various gynaecological cancers whether they push pink or not - and for the record, they don't all push or even agree…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer:  My experience with Lanreotide (Somatuline Autogel/Depot)

Neuroendocrine Cancer: My experience with Lanreotide (Somatuline Autogel/Depot)

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
On 9th December 2021, I celebrated 11 years of Lanreotide - click here to read about that.My Lanreotide ExperienceWhen I was discharged from hospital following major surgery in Nov 2010, I knew I would shortly be commencing long-term monthly 'somatostatin analogue' treatment and had assumed Octreotide (Sandostatin LAR) would be the drug of choice. However, my Oncologist prescribed Lanreotide (known in the UK as Somatuline Autogel and elsewhere as Somatuline Depot).  Technically this is a hormone therapy (it's not chemo).Somatostatin Analogues (Octreotide/Lanreotide) are mainstay treatments for many Neuroendocrine Cancer patients and their introduction is a very significant factor in the improvement of both prognostic outcomes and quality of life.  Both drugs are designed to control Carcinoid Syndrome (but can be used selectively in other NET syndromes) and both have anti-tumour effects.  Check out…
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My tribute to Wilko Johnson #NeuroendocrineCancer – Rock and Roll Wilko!

My tribute to Wilko Johnson #NeuroendocrineCancer – Rock and Roll Wilko!

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
BREAKING NEWS    I recently blogged about a well-known BBC political reporter who has Neuroendocrine Cancer with a Lung Primary.  However, in the usual media 'double speak' which can sometimes pervade the coverage of such events, he is said to have Lung Cancer.  As I said in that article, sometimes with Neuroendocrine Cancer - the devil is in the detail and you just need to dig to find it. Annoying, we shouldn't need to dig as he doesn't have Lung Cancer.  I wrote about this anatomical issue here.  This is exactly what happened to Steve Jobs and Aretha Franklin.No sooner had I published the Nick Robinson article, I was alerted to the broadcasting of a film about rock star Wilko Johnson who has the most amazing story to tell. Wilko is…
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I bet my flush beats yours?

I bet my flush beats yours?

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Treatment
Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) can sometimes present with one or more vague symptoms which occasionally results in a lengthy diagnostic phase for some.  Sure, there can be issues with doctor experience and knowledge that can add to the problem. However, some people do present with multiple vague and confusing symptoms and some people have comorbidities that have similar symptoms.  Textbook diagnostics just don't make sense, sometimes even when the doctor suspects a NET i.e. classic symptoms of 'something' but with negative markers for NETs. Clearly, those are extreme cases and just like other complex diseases, many diagnoses of NET can be extremely challenging.  Even for an experienced doctor, it can be a difficult jigsaw!Most types of NET can have associated 'syndrome' i.e. the tumours are 'functional' and this is normally (but not always)…
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Opinion: Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness – let’s move into the 21st century

Opinion: Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness – let’s move into the 21st century

Awareness
OPINIONThe build up to so called NET Cancer Day has begun and I can hear hoofbeats becoming louder every day. Is it a horse, is it a zebra etc etc. However, is this aged equine medical adage still applicable as an awareness tool for Neuroendocrine Cancer or should we be looking for something which is more impactful, up to date, more compelling, more likely be taken seriously and attract new audiences?  p.s. even our day has a ridiculous name - "NET Cancer" decodes to "Neuroendocrine Tumour Cancer" which is quite ludicrous not only because of the grammar but also because it precludes a whole bunch of people from the Neuroendocrine Carcinoma area of the disease.For those unaware, the term 'Zebra' is a North American medical slang for arriving at an…
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Neuroendocrine…..the little suckers get everywhere!

Neuroendocrine…..the little suckers get everywhere!

Awareness
One of the key milestones in my awareness campaigns occurred when I featured as a guest blogger for one of the biggest cancer 'support' organisations in the world - Macmillan. The aim of the blog 'Sorry I'm not in service' was actually to highlight the consequences of cancer and its treatment (a Macmillan Campaign message), and to a certain extent to highlight the conflict that can often exist between work and cancer. However, it was also a fantastic opportunity for me to grab the interest of the general population with the word 'Neuroendocrine'.  The response was amazing and on twitter it was one of Macmillan's most retweeted posts over that period.  The Macmillan Facebook post was also very popular and still rising with around 500 likes and around 40 shares so far. There are some great comments on…
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I look well but you should see my insides

I look well but you should see my insides

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
I'm sat next to patients waiting on their chemotherapy treatment - the "Chemo Ward" sign above the door gives it away.  I'm here for my 28-day cycle injection of Lanreotide which will hopefully keep my Neuroendocrine Tumours at bay.  I look all around; the temporary beds and the waiting room are full and all I can see is people who don't look as well as I do.  Some have hats or bandanas partly disguising the loss of hair. I feel for them.No matter how many visits I make, I can't help feeling out of place on a Cancer ward. I'm not sure why I feel like this; after all, I've had some very scary surgery and I've been having treatment since 2010. However, this thought doesn't seem to balance it out - some of these…
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The Syndromes of Neuroendocrine Cancer – Early Signs of a Late Diagnosis

The Syndromes of Neuroendocrine Cancer – Early Signs of a Late Diagnosis

Awareness
One of the curious things about Neuroendocrine Cancer (NETs elsewhere in the text) is that it can very often exhibit one or more vague symptoms collectively known as a 'syndrome'.  Syndrome is an apt word to describe these complications as the most general meaning in medical terms is a group of symptoms that together are characteristic of a specific disorder or disease".  Having a syndrome can often be the difference between having a 'functional' condition or a non-functional' condition - see more below.This frequently makes Neuroendocrine Cancer very difficult to diagnose quickly.  It's a very devious disease.It's NOT all about Carcinoid Syndrome!Most people think of Carcinoid Syndrome when they discuss NETs. Anyone suggesting that all NET patients get carcinoid syndrome or that all symptoms of NETs are caused by carcinoid…
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I’m still here

I’m still here

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
I was diagnosed with metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer - 26th July 2010.  Until I arrived at my 5th anniversary, I hadn't thought much about how (or if) I should mark these occasions.  I never thought I would dwell on such things as 'Cancerversaries' but I now totally get why many patients and survivors do.There are several types of 'Cancerversary' that for some, could trigger a mix or range of emotions including gratitude, relief and fear of cancer recurrence or growth. These milestones could be the date of a cancer diagnosis, the end of a particular type of treatment (anniversary of surgery etc) or a period since no signs or symptoms of cancer were reported. Everybody will handle it their own way - and that's perfectly understandable.The 5-year milestone was significant, I…
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Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – not as rare as you think

Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – not as rare as you think

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
UPDATE AS AT 21 JAN 2023 - a leading US cancer organisation accepts that NETs are not rareI don't like to gloat, but this post is heading for its 8th birthday.   UK and Australian figures recently confirmed that Neuroendocrine Cancer is the 10th and 7th most common cancer type.  Several NET specialists in USA have been more vocal (see some graphic quotes below) than the cancer organsiations (including the ones who represent us) and disappointingly "carcinoid" use is still rife in that part of the world.  Let's hope they will now get on with moving to the new paradigm I've been suggesting for a long time.Read more in the "Meanwhile in USA" section.BackgroundAlthough initially considered rare tumours up until 10 years ago, the most recent data indicates the incidence of…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Online Forums: frighteningly good or good at frightening?

Neuroendocrine Cancer Online Forums: frighteningly good or good at frightening?

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
OPINIONWhen I was diagnosed, I was happy with my own research and kept away from forums on the advice of a fellow patient who said they can be overly negative. Just before my second major operation in 2011, I decided to take the plunge and registered with an online web forum (not a Facebook one). Looking back to that period, I wasn't really a major player, more of a 'lurker'. I found it quite 'cliquey' and I should have listened to the initial advice of that fellow patient!  So, I left it after the reigning clique found I didn't want to be part of their pity party.p.s. by "Forums", I mean any online group. Joining forums/online patient groupsIn 2013/14, I joined several large Facebook closed groups which function as forums. After…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – don’t break my heart!

Neuroendocrine Cancer – don’t break my heart!

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
Neuroendocrine Cancer has certain unique features whereby tumours can produce one or more symptoms which are known collectively as a syndrome.  Neuroendocrine Tumours secreting excess amounts of serotonin, can be accompanied by Carcinoid Syndrome which if not diagnosed and treated early enough, can lead to an additional complication known as Hedinger Syndrome (often known as Carcinoid Heart Disease (CHD)). However, very late diagnoses can present with CHD already in place.Excess serotonin, a hormone released by NETs into the bloodstream seems to be the prime and lead suspect for causing thick ‘plaques’ or fibrosis tissue within the heart muscle and damage to (mainly) the tricuspid and pulmonary valves on the right side of the heart which can become ‘tightly narrowed’ or ‘leaky’.  It's very similar to the reasons for mesenteric and peritoneal fibrosis…
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Please flush after use!

Please flush after use!

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Humour, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
In the past couple of years, I've read so many stories about the quite natural act of using a toilet (.....some more repeatable than others).  I think if there was a 'Bachelor of Science degree in Toiletry', I might pass with First Class Honours. I jest clearly but it's strange that such a routine activity for most can actually become quite scientific in the world of Neuroendocrine Cancer and other ailments which might be described in some scenarios as invisible illnesses. I also found myself smiling at the fact that flushing is connected with the toilet and a type of red warm feeling in the upper torso - the two main symptoms of the Carcinoid Syndrome associated with the most common type of Neuroendocrine Cancer.  "Please flush after use" - erm...yes sure but actually -…
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Hadrian’s Wall Day 6 – Mission Complete!

Hadrian’s Wall Day 6 – Mission Complete!

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
[caption id="attachment_1144" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] Sunset over the Solway Firth (Scotland in the distance)[/caption]The final leg of the walk took us from beautiful Carlisle to the remote coast of North Cumbria at Bowness-on-Solway.  We are staying there tonight before beginning our journey home tomorrow (via Newcastle). Amazingly our digs have a wicked view of the Scottish coastline and the setting sun - see picture above which was taken from our room.  It was pretty surreal to have finished 6 days of torturous walking but also to be able to look at such a wonderful view of the country in which I was born.Some people say final leg of the walk is pretty boring but Chris and I disagree. Yes it's flat but the first half is a wonderful mix of colour…
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My blog goes International!

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
One of the most interesting statistics in my blog app is the total number of views recorded each day.  It even breaks the total down into which posts were most viewed and which countries the viewers were from (but please note it does not identify the name or any other details of viewers). I'm always very pleased to have readers from overseas locations - I hope they enjoy reading my blog and find it useful. To date, these include readers from USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Barbados, Belize, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal, Austria, UAE, Bahrain, Philippines, Nigeria, Kenya, Croatia, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Japan, Czech Republic. Neuroendocrine Cancer is not unique to UK, it's an International disease. If you research, you will find Neuroendocrine Support groups in most countries. There…
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Diagnostic Challenges

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Treatment
I was checking my statistics this morning and found the most viewed post to date was published on the day Stephen Sutton passed away.   I didn't really want to jump onto the Stephen Sutton bandwagon but when I found on the day of his passing that it had taken 6 months to diagnose his bowel cancer, I knew this would be relevant to Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness, particularly important as it's one of the primary aims of my blog.  I'm thinking the top viewing score to date is not because it mentioned Stephen Sutton (sad as that event was) but because the issues he faced are well known to Neuroendocrine Cancer patients, many of whom are readers. In the past week, the newspapers have published several follow up articles on…
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Diagnosis – I’m no longer in control

Diagnosis – I’m no longer in control

Awareness, Survivorship
The clouds are gathering. Diagnosis. The dreaded moment when you're looking at an Oncologist and waiting to be given some news. I'd been to a routine annual Asthma clinic, referred to my GP, referred to a specialist, had a bunch of tests, and now referred to an Oncologist.  There were many hints along the way. I felt in control. Rewind 2 months to May 2010......  I was happily working, getting stuff done, making things work. I had sufficient autonomy and freedom of manoeuvre.  I felt in control.  I'm happy as a pig in the proverbial!  My annual Asthma clinic comes along and it's an opportunity to work at home for the day....yahoo - no commuting! "Hi Ronny" - "Hi Liz". Blah Blah Blah. However, glad Liz was taking it seriously - I…
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