Why Coronavirus Anxiety is Hard to Control – a Neuroendocrine Cancer patient perspective

Why Coronavirus Anxiety is Hard to Control – a Neuroendocrine Cancer patient perspective

Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
OPINION. I guess many people are feeling pretty scared right now.  Add age, a chronic disease, cancer, a lung illness or any condition that has a level of immunosuppression, and it seems to become even more scarier when you read the news.  I think the 'not knowing' how this crisis is going to pan out has made the situation quite surreal.  We seem to have gone from a fairly routine day to day living, thinking coronavirus is something that happens in another faraway country and then BANG, it's on our doorstep.  I don't know about you but I would hate to have survived metastatic Cancer for the last 10 years only be taken out by a stupid tiny virus because I forgot to wash my hands. Thus why I intend…
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Coronavirus 19 (COVID-19): risks for cancer patients

Coronavirus 19 (COVID-19): risks for cancer patients

Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
This post was generated at the height of the pandemic and is not medical advice, moreover, it should not be considered up to date.  For the latest information for your cancer in regard COVID RISKS and VACCINES, please speak directly to your specialist doctor or follow your national health organisation’s guidance.UPDATED 22 Apr 2020 - COVID-19 and MEN patients. See article 7 below.UPDATED 5 Apr 2020 - excellent video meeting between Elyse from NET Research Foundation and Dr Mark Lewis. Dr Lewis is an Oncologist and also a NET patient so he speaks with both aspects in mind. See article 6 below.UPDATED 28 Mar 2020 - see two links from Neuroendocrine Cancer UK (formerly NET Patient Foundation). First is a general summary of the effects of treatment in regard risk,…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: The Perfect Storm

Neuroendocrine Cancer: The Perfect Storm

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
As featured by Neuroendocrine Cancer UK (formerly NET Patient Foundation)It's well known that Neuroendocrine Cancer can often be difficult to diagnose condition. However, what is less well known is the impact it has on those who are diagnosed.  I'm one of the lucky ones, even though I still ended up with distant metastases.  It does feel odd to say that having distant metastasis is lucky!I consider my diagnosis to have been incidental as they were not investigating cancer - I suspect that's the route for many cancer patients. I also think I was lucky because I had instant access to Neuroendocrine Cancer specialists and got quick treatment, and my follow up and support from a specialist centre were in place. I cope, but I wouldn’t say it’s easy living with…
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Featuring Kirsty Dalglish – Pheochromocytoma and Pregnancy

Featuring Kirsty Dalglish – Pheochromocytoma and Pregnancy

Inspiration, Patient Advocacy
This story is about my friend Kirsty. She lives with metastatic Pheochromocytoma, a type of Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) of the adrenal glands - (read more here). She has an amazing blog which is not just for Pheochromocytomas or even just for Neuroendocrine Cancer patients and supporters, because she has not let her condition stop her from doing normal and amazing stuff. The challenges she has faced, and still facing, are very similar to many cancer patients. Kirsty is actually one of the moderators in my private Facebook group, she found me and put herself forward to help out. My group international in composition working 24/7, so her location in New Zealand was perfect, filling in the North America/Europe normal 'sleepy' time around 3am - 7am UK time.In 2012, Kirsty moved…
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Prognostics and Crystal Balls

Prognostics and Crystal Balls

Inspiration, Patient Advocacy
When I was being told I had an advanced and incurable cancer, I did what most people seem to do in movies ….. I asked “how long do I have“. The Oncologist said ” … 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 Oncologists!…
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“Please find something wrong with me”

“Please find something wrong with me”

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
I’m contacted almost daily by the ‘undiagnosed’ who suspect they have Neuroendocrine Cancer, often because they appear to be displaying the symptoms of one of the associated syndromes and my large internet footprint leads them to me. These are some of my most difficult questions. I’m always very wary of initially agreeing with their assumptions and logic, instead opting for straightforward detective work based on my knowledge of the different types of Neuroendocrine Cancer, knowledge of the best scans, the best tumour and hormone markers. And I always warn them that statistically, they are more likely to have a common condition than the less common Neuroendocrine Cancer. When I first chat with the ‘undiagnosed’, I find many of them are fairly knowledgeable about Neuroendocrine Cancer and other health conditions, again…
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The Flu shot – it’s not just about you

The Flu shot – it’s not just about you

Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
An Opinion Post Edit:  September 2020.  I believe the flu shot is even more important in the era of COVID. This is an illness that typically spreads in autumn and winter. A major flu outbreak would not only overwhelm hospitals in the coming months (the so-called "twindemic") but also likely overwhelm a person who might contract both at once.Edit:  October 2021.  Ditto. Edit:  September 2022.  Ditto. Another year, another flu shot. Since my cancer diagnosis, I've had one each year. To me it's really important protection even though I know it's not 100% effective, it's better than nothing. As someone who lives with metastatic and incurable Neuroendocrine Cancer, I know that my susceptibility to chest infections and flu may be dangerous for me, and having got this far beyond diagnosis, with an…
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The trouble with the NET (Part 4) – Cancer can kill but so can fake cures

The trouble with the NET (Part 4) – Cancer can kill but so can fake cures

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
No matter where you look on social media, there are millions of sites claiming that 'this' and 'that' can cure cancer.  If you analyse some of the things that can apparently 'cure' cancer, you will normally find that behind these fantasies, there is someone selling something, a book, a video, a product.I was also interested to read a number of articles about various aspects of this modern phenomenon.  Firstly, in the magazine Wired, a major media company was forced to take down some cancer therapy videos after someone pointed out they were not scientifically factual.  Not just patients who get fooled by these claims then?Much of the misinformation arrives via Facebook, and YouTube, two of the most commonly used social media tools. This article suggests a shockingly large majority of…
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The Heterogeneity of Grade 3 (High grade) Neuroendocrine Neoplasms

The Heterogeneity of Grade 3 (High grade) Neuroendocrine Neoplasms

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
Reviewed and updated 14th March 2022High Grade - the forgotten patient group?When reading articles in the mainstream media, found in medical publications; and even listening to doctors speak about my disease, it's clear that the focus is on the term "Neuroendocrine Tumours" or NET for short.  Many websites of advocate foundation organisations and specialist scientific organisations, all still use the term "NET" in their naming.  I too am guilty of having a large Facebook site falling into this category.  It's little wonder that those with high grade disease can often feel like the forgotten patient group.  Clearly all the aforementioned organisations support all patients regardless of grade, but it's true to say that the naming and general use of terminology continues to fall behind. It's also true that the term…
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I’m not sick, I just have cancer

I’m not sick, I just have cancer

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Opinion. I receive many messages from people across the world. Recently, one person asked me if I saw myself as a sick person. I found it a really interesting question because someone with cancer must be sick, right? When I was diagnosed, I really didn’t feel unwell, not how I thought a Stage 4 cancer patient would feel and not even ill enough to consider myself a 'sick person'. Prior to that, I suppose like everyone else on the planet, I had normal day-to-day stuff come along but that always settled in days or weeks. But never enough to call myself a sick person other than as a temporary label. Quite often I would ignore the illness and continue working and also continue normal day to day activities. In hindsight,…
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Rosacea – the NET Effect

Rosacea – the NET Effect

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
Around 2001, I started noticing some issues on my nose, particularly around the creases, an issue I still experience today. It normally starts with a stinging feeling, an indication I'm about to experience some sort of inflammation. What eventually happens is something which looks like a 'whitehead' which I now know to be a 'pustule'. Sometimes there are multiples, and most are not normally bigger than 2mm, mostly smaller. These pustules nearly always disappear within a short period of time, normally after washing/showering, but they tend to leave reddish marks which eventually fade. Very infrequently, these pustules would appear on my chin. My nose is slightly discoloured and more reddish than the rest of my face since the issue started.  Shortly after I started experiencing this issue, a doctor diagnosed me…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: No one gets it until they get it

Neuroendocrine Cancer: No one gets it until they get it

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
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!  I told someone I had a primary in the small intestine once, they said "oh you have bowel cancer then" - NO! 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. …
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From dying to living, to hell and back

From dying to living, to hell and back

Awareness, Inspiration, Patient Advocacy
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 early in 2019.  (edit: After posting this article, I heard of a few similar cases). 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…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: a needle in a haystack?

Neuroendocrine Cancer: a needle in a haystack?

Patient Advocacy
Reviewed and edited 3rd May 2022It'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 and also in many other places), there is still a lot of ground to cover. There are a number of reasons why these Neoplasms are often difficult to correctly and quickly diagnose 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 may use the following terms in this post:Neuroendocrine Neoplasm (NENs) - a combination term for both well differentiated Neuroendocrine Tumours  (NETs) and Neuroendocrine Carcinomas (NECs)I wanted to cover two different aspects of the problem of finding NENs.…
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How to Talk to a Cancer Patient Without Being a Complete Twit

How to Talk to a Cancer Patient Without Being a Complete Twit

General, Humour, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
I enjoyed reading "8 rules on how to talk to a cancer patient" because I think much of it is written with 'tongue in cheek'.  Great title! In UK we might even spell the word 'twit' slightly differently (UK people will get it!). Some of the rules are directed at doctors and I'm sure some doctors will laugh (if you're a doctor and you didn't laugh, sorry). I think one or two are a bit harsh and could potentially backfire and at least one I partly disagree with.  Personally I try to balance my reactions to not come over as a 'pity party' and something which is genuinely offensive or upsetting to me as a cancer patient.  I appreciate understanding and empathy, perhaps sympathy, but I certainly don't want pity.…
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Living with Cancer – Worrier or Warrior?

Living with Cancer – Worrier or Warrior?

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
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…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – Short Update from NANETS 2018

Neuroendocrine Cancer – Short Update from NANETS 2018

Clinical Trials, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
I would love to go to a NANETS conference but I would need sponsorship or otherwise have to fund my own way there. Seattle sounds like a great place to visit. I would even have been their twitter correspondent had they asked! I've been to the European equivalent twice, they always have theirs in Barcelona it would seem, at least NANETS uses different locations making it more interesting.  It's a scientific conference for the most part, but I guess some basic stuff is also covered. However, in the world of instant contact and communications on the internet, together with twitter, one can keep up to speed on what is or has been discussed.  One day, NANETS and ENETS will be sufficiently advanced that we can all watch the presentations from…
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Don’t worry, it’s benign!

Don’t worry, it’s benign!

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
OPINIONOne 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 standard cancer nomenclature definition is malignant.Any standard cancer nomenclature definition of the word 'tumour' will confirm the definition of the word tumour means it can either be benign or malignant. However, and while I'm sure there are benign NETs, the key statement to explain…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Diagnosing the Undiagnosed

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Diagnosing the Undiagnosed

Patient Advocacy
Neuroendocrine Cancer is one of a number of "difficult to diagnose" conditions. Many types of Neuroendocrine Cancer come with an associated syndrome and these syndromes can mimic everyday illnesses. In many cases, people don't even feel ill while the tumours grow. Most types of this cancer are slow-growing but there are also aggressive versions. Although things appear to be improving in diagnostic terms, it can sometimes take years for someone to be finally diagnosed correctly and get treatment, albeit in some cases, too late for any hope of a curative scenario. It's a very sneaky type of cancer and if left too long it can be life threatening - CLICK HERE to find out why.The road to a diagnosis of Neuroendocrine Cancer is often not straight or easy to navigate.…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer is not a ‘type’ of another Cancer ….. PERIOD!

Neuroendocrine Cancer is not a ‘type’ of another Cancer ….. PERIOD!

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
Now the dust has settled on the death and funeral of Neuroendocrine Cancer patient Aretha Franklin, the community needs to review the strategy for how we explain the nomenclature of Neuroendocrine Cancer to outsiders including the media, and including doctors.About 95% of the articles I read about Aretha Franklin stated she had Pancreatic Cancer. Only a few quoted her physician who clumsily said "Pancreatic Cancer of the Neuroendocrine Type". Her death certificate quoted "Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Cancer". Despite this, the media outlet that published her death certificate still led the article with the headline "Pancreatic Cancer". Exactly the same thing happened with Steve Jobs and a few others. And that's only the ones we know about - how many other pe0ple are being labelled and documented with the wrong cancer type?I…
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I wish I had another cancer

I wish I had another cancer

Awareness, Inspiration, Patient Advocacy
I'm thankful to Pancreatic Cancer Action for featuring this article here.AN OPINION POSTI’ve seen the term ‘Cancer Olympics’ many times on my social media travels, it’s been used in several contexts. For example, my friend Dr Robin McGee uses it to describe her ordeal with late stage bowel cancer and judging by the cover of her book, the analogy is the hurdles she had to jump to get the right treatment (many of you will relate to that).Another example I see is the race to claim a cancer is somehow ‘worse’ than other cancers, i.e. ‘my cancer is far worse than yours’.  Ironically, although some cancers are almost certainly worse than others (for example in prognostic terms), it seems like a race to the bottom as patients fight for the…
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Don’t be underactive with your Thyroid surveillance

Don’t be underactive with your Thyroid surveillance

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
From other posts, you'll be aware of the thyroid lesion (approx. 17 x 19mm) which I've been tracking since 2013. The surveillance included routine thyroid blood tests, mainly TSH, T3 and 4. I was out of range in TSH (elevated) but the T4 was at the lower end of the normal range.  On 20 March 2018, following an Endocrine appointment, I was put on a trial dose of 50mcg of Levothyroxine to counter the downwards trend in results indicating hypothyroidism, possibly due to the lesion. Levothyroxine is a thyroid hormone (thyroxine) replacement.  One month after taking these drugs, my thyroid blood levels are now normal for the first time in 4 years (since there are records of test results - it might be longer).[caption id="attachment_16877" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Click on the…
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Shame on you!

Shame on you!

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
I don't look ill.  I didn't even look ill when I was diagnosed with metastatic and incurable Neuroendocrine Cancer.  People have even told me I look better than many people my age who do not have an incurable disease!  There's a bit of me which is very happy with that predicament, although I'd rather look less good and not have cancer.Many cancer patients have illnesses that cannot be seen, they are invisible. I know quite a lot of cancer patients who don't look ill but I know they have a life-threatening disease and things could change quickly.  For example, some cancer patients who look really well can need quick access to facilities such as toilets as side effects can sometimes not only be instant but also painful.  Some just need…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer and Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT) – the Digested Version (Nutrition Series Article 5)

Neuroendocrine Cancer and Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT) – the Digested Version (Nutrition Series Article 5)

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
After 7 years of avoiding pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT), I finally asked for some on a trial basis at the end of 2017.  To be honest, for some time, I thought they were really only needed in the NET world for those with pancreatic issues (pNETs).  I've always known I've had some digestive issues related to malabsorption. However, I'm not losing weight - this has been stable for some years (but see below).  Plus my key vitamin levels (B12 and D) are in range.  However, I had been struggling with a lot of bloating issues, thus the trial.  You know me, I like to research and analyse such things! I've actually written about a lot of these issues in my Nutrition series ..... so this is now 'Article Number…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – surveillance and follow up

Neuroendocrine Cancer – surveillance and follow up

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Since 2010 I've had a lot of surveillance and testing. More than people can imagine. I can see from various comments on my public pages and posts within my private group, that some people get a lot more than me. It's not true to say we all get the same, there are many factors including stage, grade, type of Neuroendocrine Neoplasm, healthcare system, miscellaneous problems, therapy, even age.In the first year or two after diagnosis, I seemed to be a continuous testing phase but that was mainly due to seeing so many different doctors for so many different issues. In reality, I was seeing and being assessed by my Oncologist around 3-month intervals, eventually moving to four. After that, I moved to 6 months but due to issues in 2013/2014,…
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Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – the 7 Year Itch

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – the 7 Year Itch

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Treatment
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email I quite like the Facebook memory thing. This morning I got a reminder of a post I made from 7 years ago whilst I was in hospital recovering from my 9 Nov surgery.  It had taken 12 days for me to feel strong enough to venture onto social media with a simple message "I'm feeling perkier".  For those not familiar with English localisms, it just means lively, spirited, bright, sunny, cheerful, animated, upbeat, buoyant, bubbly, cheery, bouncy, genial, jaunty, chirpy, sprightly, vivacious, in fine fettle, full of beans, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  I guess I met some of these descriptors most of the time! I had gotten through the worst and…
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Round up of NANETS 2017 – Let’s talk about NETs #NANETS2017

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
NANETS (North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society) is one of the biggest NET conferences, bringing together NET Specialists from around the world to discuss state-of-the-art treatment modalities, new therapies, and ongoing controversies in the field of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (Tumors and Carcinomas). This is fairly complex stuff but much of it will be familiar to many. I’ve filtered out several outputs from the conference which I think are both relevant and topical to patients. The list is below allowing you to easily peruse and read further via linkages if you need to read more.  Remember, some of these are extracts so do not contain all the details of the research or study – although some of the linkages will take you to in-depth information if that’s your bag. Where applicable, I’ve also linked…
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Opinion: Neuroendocrine Cancer – Can it be cured?

Opinion: Neuroendocrine Cancer – Can it be cured?

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
OPINION:"Cured" - In cancer, this word can evoke a number of emotions. Interestingly, not all these emotions will be as positive as you might think. If you want to spark a heated debate on a Neuroendocrine Cancer patient forum, just mention that you've been cured. I'm not taking any sides by using this statement, just stating what actually happens and the deeply held views that persist in community groups. One important factor in some of this thinking is that many people still remember the days where most diagnoses were late and many followed years of misdiagnoses for other conditions. But the latest statistics (and even these can be said to be quite old) indicate things are changing. The massive increase in incidence rates indicates earlier diagnoses and it's true for…
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Cancer Isn’t All About Me

Cancer Isn’t All About Me

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_11078" align="alignleft" width="150"] As featured by Cure Magazine[/caption][caption id="attachment_4318" align="aligncenter" width="500"] It's about others too[/caption]Since my diagnosis of incurable and metastatic neuroendocrine cancer in 2010, it's really all been about me. I didn’t see the trauma coming, and my family has supported me throughout every single step. I really don’t want to be the focus of attention as that mantle was normally evenly distributed. However, there’s nothing like a cancer diagnosis to put you into the spotlight.Facing an uncertain future with regular scans, injections, treatment, pills, examinations and blood tests has made me the center of attention, whether I like it or not. The focus is on me because these things are necessary to keep me alive for as long as possible and also because I live with the…
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Ever wonder what caused your Neuroendocrine Cancer?

Ever wonder what caused your Neuroendocrine Cancer?

Patient Advocacy
OPINION.  When you're diagnosed, you go through a whole host of emotions. It's not just the initial shock, the disbelief, the anxiety and morbid worry produced by the words "you have cancer", it's other stuff such as anger and denial.  With the latter, the denial normally wears off as you finally accept the predicament.In hindsight, the anger is interesting because there can be a mixture of thoughts including "why me", "what could I have done to head this off"; and would you believe I was even angry that my diagnosis was going to affect my performance at work and even my personal credibility.  We all react differently but in general terms our experiences can be categorised into 3 main areas: initial reaction, distress and then adjustment.Initially, I was frustrated I didn't…
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Ronny Allan’s ‘PoNETry’ © – An Ode to Invisible Illness

Ronny Allan’s ‘PoNETry’ © – An Ode to Invisible Illness

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Ronny Allan's 'PoNETry' © series can be shared with poetry credit to:RonnyAllan.NETThanks for readingRonnyI also have one about Lanreotide (or "butt darts" in general) - click here Click here to join my private Facebook group Subscribe to my newsletter Email address First name (Optional) Last name (Optional) By subscribing, you agree with Revue’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Thanks for reading.RonnyI’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. Help me build up my new site here – click here and ‘Like’Sign up for my newsletters -  Click HereDisclaimerMy Diagnosis and Treatment HistoryFollow me on twitterCheck out my online presentationsCheck out my WEGO Health AwardsRemember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!Please Share this post…
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8 tips for conquering fear – Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer

8 tips for conquering fear – Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Opinion:Before I was diagnosed with cancer, my health was in reasonable condition. I had minor irritants that seemed to come back now and then, nothing that was going to kill me. So I just put up with most of it and time was frequently a good healer. Occasionally, I would use medicine to speed up the healing or ask a doctor for advice. Even leading up to my diagnosis, this was my strategy despite some strange things going on.  Luckily for me, the 'system' picked up something suspicious and I am where I am today. It's amazing to think a cancer can grow inside you for years causing a lot of damage but without a grand announcement.That's not to say I didn't have any fear about what was going to…
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The trouble with the NET (Part 3) – Miracle Cures

The trouble with the NET (Part 3) – Miracle Cures

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Since I started blogging, I've had to become quite savvy at forming headlines for my posts as the wording can be a factor in whether someone reads it or not. A post picture can also influence.  There's a third factor and that is credibility - I'd like to think I've worked hard to earn that level of trust in my 'product'. I use the NET to talk about NETs!  I'm a genuine guy with a genuine purpose and I don't want to sell you anything - my 'product' is free.However, the 'NET' can also provide 'misinformation'. Unfortunately 'misinformation' also includes 'alleged' cures for various ailments including cancer.  I think we've all been there, we check twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc and we find the ubiquitous miracle cures for every illness under the…
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Diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer? – 10 questions to ask your doctor (and where to find a NET Specialist Worldwide)

Diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer? – 10 questions to ask your doctor (and where to find a NET Specialist Worldwide)

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
On the day I was diagnosed, I hadn't really thought about questions, the only one I actually remember asking was "how long do I have left to live" (I watch too many movies!). On the day of diagnosis and period beyond, people tend to feel emotions of shock, denial, anger, and sadness, before going on to accept their situation. Yes, I 'googled' but not a great deal really - although some things I found did frighten me. I wish I had found this article way back then.As things progressed in the weeks after 'D-Day', I started to work out the sort of things to ask but even then, it was limited. I had been referred to an experienced NET team so I felt confident they would do whatever needed doing.…
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Don’t believe the hype – Neuroendocrine Cancer Myths debunked

Don’t believe the hype – Neuroendocrine Cancer Myths debunked

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
OPINIONThere's a lot of inaccurate and out of date information out there. Some is just a lack of understanding, some caused by out of date websites, often as a result of patient forum myth spreading. Some can only be described as propaganda. Some of it even comes from doctors and NET advocate organisations. Myth 1: All Neuroendocrine Tumours are benignNot true. By any scientific definition, the word 'tumour' means 'an abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumours may be benign (not cancerous), or malignant (cancerous)'. Sure, some NETs will be benign but a tumours which spreads away from the primary site cannot be benign by any scientific definition. However, since the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2010 classification…
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There’s no such thing as a ‘tickbox’ Neuroendocrine Cancer patient

There’s no such thing as a ‘tickbox’ Neuroendocrine Cancer patient

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
Thousand of people are diagnosed with cancer every day.  Many types of cancer have big patient populations due to the prevalence of diagnoses. They are so common that billions have been ploughed into research and care services.  Doctors are used to seeing lots of these patients and they have tried and tested treatments and care protocols. Many will come out of their treatments and under surveillance for a period (normally 5 years) and then declared in remission. The problem with certain cancer symptoms is that they are not always clear cut.  For example, take symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, or fatigue - those can be caused by a whole host of things, many of which aren’t even cancer. It's difficult for any doctor to work out the cause of…
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In the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life

In the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
OPINION.  Date of Article March 2017.  In the last 24 months, there seems to have been announcement after announcement of new and/or upgraded/enhanced diagnostics and treatment types for Neuroendocrine Cancer.  Increased availability of radionuclide scans, increased availability of radionuclide therapies, combination therapies, increased availability of somatostatin analogues, biological therapies, enhanced surgical and minimally invasive techniques, new oral drugs for carcinoid syndrome, more trials including immunotherapy. Admittedly, some of the announcements are just expansions of existing therapies having been approved in new regions. Compared to some other cancers, even those which hit the headlines often, we appear to be doing not too badly. However, the pressure needs to stay on, all patients, regardless of where they live, need access to the best diagnostics and treatments for them, and at the requisite…
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Poker Face or Cancer Card?

Poker Face or Cancer Card?

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
[caption id="attachment_11078" align="aligncenter" width="500"] As featured by Cure Magazine[/caption]Before I was diagnosed, I had my share of illnesses. Fortunately, many of them were the routine stuff that most people tend to get from time to time, and most did not stop me from getting on with whatever I needed to do. I served in the military from age 16 until 45 – a long time! On only two occasions during that 29-year period, did I involuntary visit a hospital: aged 16 having been knocked out at boxing (you should have seen the other guy!) and aged 39 after falling off a vehicle (in my defense it was really dark). Illness wasn't really something I thought much about and for minor things, I would just "soldier on.” So, from an early…
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Recent Progress in NET Management – Positive presentation from Jonathan R Strosberg MD

Recent Progress in NET Management – Positive presentation from Jonathan R Strosberg MD

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Treatment
I recently wrote a blog called Neuroendocrine Cancer – Exciting Times Ahead! I wrote that on a day I was feeling particularly positive and at the time, I wanted to share that positivity with you. I genuinely believe there's a lot of great things happening. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot still to be done, particularly in the area of diagnosis and quality of life after being diagnosed. However, this is a really great message from a well-known NET expert. In an interview with OncLive, Jonathan R. Strosberg, MD, associate professor at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida, discussed his presentation on NETs at a recent 2016 Symposium, and shed light on the progress that has been made in this treatment landscape. OncLive: Please highlight some of the main points from your…
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Surgery for Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – to cut or not to cut?

Surgery for Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – to cut or not to cut?

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Reviewed and edited 26th September 2021Surgery can sometimes be a tough call (......to cut or not to cut?)It is an area where I have some sympathy for physicians and surgeons who sometimes have tough decisions to make. Surgery is risky, particularly where people are presenting in a weak condition, perhaps with very advanced disease, secondary illness and comorbidities. I also suspect age is a factor (I was surprised to find myself considered 'young' at 55). Physicians and surgeons need to weigh up these risks and the consequences of the surgery against a 'watch and wait' or alternative non-surgical approach. This would normally be discussed via a 'Tumor Board' or Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meeting. However, and although imaging helps, the situation is not really 100% clear until the surgeon 'gets inside'.…
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Keep your lights burning

Keep your lights burning

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
I recently met a colleague who I hadn't seen for 30 years. He was more than just a colleague, he was once my 'Commanding Officer'. He had been made aware of my illness but after asking how I was, he was content with my short explanation "I'm not dead yet". The great thing about soldiery is that it's perfectly acceptable to make simple and light hearted statements about very difficult situations. The other great thing is that you can pick up where you left off 30 years ago, as if it were only yesterday.  And 'Bravado' is not only acceptable, it's mandatory! A week later, I received a very nice Christmas card from my old friend with a message which included "...... the old light is still burning brightly". It was a metaphor but something I…
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Neuroendocrine Tumours: a spotlight on Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma

Neuroendocrine Tumours: a spotlight on Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
I spend a lot of time talking about the most common forms of Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs), but what about the less well-known types?  As part of my commitment to all types of NETs, I'd like to shine a light on two less common tumour types known as Pheochromocytomas and Paragangliomas - incidence rate approximately 8 per million per year. They are normally grouped together, and the definitions below will confirm why.  If you think it's difficult to diagnose a mainstream NET, this particular sub-type is a real challenge.So, let's get definitions out of the way:Pheochromocytomas (Pheo for short)Pheochromocytomas are tumours of the adrenal gland that produce excess adrenaline. They arise from the central portion of the adrenal gland, which is called the adrenal medulla (the remainder of the gland is…
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Drum Roll – Ronny Allan wins WEGO Best in Show ‘Community’ 2016

Inspiration, Patient Advocacy
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email Very happy to win the WEGO 2016 Best in Show Community which is some ways is a recognition for my blog based on the fact is at the core of what I do and in many ways, the other apps are (currently) just 'fronts' for this output.  Whether you read my blog direct from WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any other platform you find it, you are all members of this award-winning community! My WEGO Profile is here - look out for the updates!  I'll expand this blog once the dust settles as this award opens up new avenues for the Neuroendocrine Cancer (NETs) and I'll be involved in new and exciting…
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Neuroendocrine – don’t let it be a Crisis

Neuroendocrine – don’t let it be a Crisis

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Treatment
Update 15th November 2021.   A study presented at NANETS 2021 produced data to suggest the causes and treatment for carcinoid crisis have been wrong and that a new model is required.  Read the article here or by clicking on the picture.Author's notes:  This is possibly a controversial conclusion in some circles and it's worth pointing out that so called 'carcinoid crisis' isn't going away, just the need for time consuming and expensive, and apparently ineffective according to the study, perioperative protection.  And the study also noted that medication to treat complications was still required.  I don't believe we should immediately dismiss this conclusion as one of the authors is a 'big hitter' NET Specialist surgeon (Dr Rodney Pommier) whose job it is to keep patients safe on the operating table.However,…
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NET Syndromes – chicken or egg?

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
We’ve all heard the age-old question about the chicken and the egg?  Scientists claimed to have 'cracked' the riddle of whether the chicken or the egg came first. The answer, they say, is the chicken. Researchers found that the formation of egg shells relies on a protein found only in a chicken's ovaries. Therefore, an egg can exist only if it has been inside a chicken. There you have it! On a similar subject, I'm often confused when someone says they have been diagnosed with 'Carcinoid Syndrome' and not one of associated 'Neuroendocrine Tumours'.  So which comes first?  I guess it's the way you look at it. In terms of presentation, the syndrome might look like it comes first, particularly in cases of metastatic/advanced disease or other complex scenarios.  Alternatively, a tumour…
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Neuroendocrine Tumours (NET) – benign vs malignant

Neuroendocrine Tumours (NET) – benign vs malignant

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
OPINION:One of the most controversial aspects of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms, in particular low grade 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). I don't believe it's an exact science and can be challenging for a NET specialist let alone a doctor who is not familiar with the disease.Going forward I'm mostly intending to use the term Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) as that is where the problem lies.NANETS Guidance talks about the '...heterogeneous clinical…
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Palliative Care – it might just save your life

Palliative Care – it might just save your life

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
When you've been diagnosed with cancer at an incurable stage, certain words start to mean more. Take 'palliative' for example.  Before I was diagnosed, I had always associated the word 'palliative' with someone who had a terminal disease, and this type of care was to make the final days/weeks as comfortable as possible. So, it was a bit of a shock to find out in 2010 that my treatment was palliative in nature. However, I'm still not dead and I'm still receiving palliative care. Go figure! The answer is simple - the cancer story is changing. What was once feared as a death sentence is now an illness in which many people survive. As survival rates increase, so too will the number of people who live with the legacy of…
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Living with NETs – a patients included award winning site

Living with NETs – a patients included award winning site

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
It's no secret that I and other patients (see picture below) have been helping Ipsen Group and their website consultants (Kanga Health) with a new site designed to support and help all Neuroendocrine Tumour patients.  It was subsequently launched on NET Cancer Day 2016 and is very aptly named 'Living with NETs'.  Very pleased to see all this hard work recognised at the 2018 Eye for Pharma awards for the Most Valuable Patient Initiative.  And, this is great awareness for Neuroendocrine Cancer at a major pharma event. I'm also delighted to be speaking alongside Ipsen as the EyeforPharma Patients Summit event in London on Oct 16th 2018. I'm quite excited about this new initiative from Ipsen Group (the manufacturers of Somatuline (Lanreotide)) and not only because I feature on the site…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Hurry up and wait

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Hurry up and wait

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email When I was diagnosed with metastatic well differentiated Neuroendocrine Cancer on 26 July 2010, I just wanted them to hurry up and fix my body so I could get back to normal. My expectations of speed turned out to be wildly inaccurate and in hindsight, I was also wildly naïve. You see, with Neuroendocrine Cancer, particularly well-differentiated, low or medium grade tumours, it sometimes doesn't work as fast as you would think and there are good reasons for that. The complexity of the condition needs some consideration as the physicians work up a treatment plan. I'm quite happy and content they took their time, rather than rush into the wrong…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – were you irritated by your misdiagnosis?

Neuroendocrine Cancer – were you irritated by your misdiagnosis?

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Look on any site about Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) and you'll find the term IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) frequently mentioned. That's because it's a common misdiagnosis for many before being formally diagnosed with NETs.But what exactly is IBS, why is it such a common misdiagnosis for many NET patients and how can these misdiagnoses be prevented or reduced in future?  I just spent a few hours doing an online training course on IBS and I want to pass on some stuff I found to be very useful. I have never been diagnosed with IBS but having researched the issue through some training, I can understand why it might be in the thoughts of a general practitioner for many scenarios.  Much of my research was focussed on the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) who sponsored the online course I completed which also used…
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