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
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email 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…
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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 a 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…
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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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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Patient Power!

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
There's a saying that the patient is the most underused person in healthcare and I think there's a lot of truth in that. However, I would suggest with Neuroendocrine Cancer, it's less true than for many other cancers. There are so many NET Cancer patients out there who know quite a lot about their cancer, and in some detail. Even the great Dr Liu once said that NET Patients frequently know more about NET Cancer than their doctors. If you go onto Twitter, if you go onto Facebook, if you read newspaper stories, you will find cancer patient stories in abundance and they will normally be patients diagnosed with the big 4 cancers. This is not surprising as these tend to affect more people.  However, the ratio of NET Cancer…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – tumour markers and hormone levels

Neuroendocrine Cancer – tumour markers and hormone levels

Patient Advocacy
I think most people have had a form of medical testing at some point in their life, i.e. the sampling and testing of blood, urine, saliva, stool or body tissue. In a nutshell, the medical staff are just measuring the content of a 'substance' and then taking a view whether this is normal or not based on pre-determined ranges. These tests are normally done as a physician's reaction to symptom presentation or maintenance/surveillance of an existing diagnosed condition. Sometimes, abnormal results will lead to more specialist tests.In cancer, these tests are frequently called 'markers'. Most tumour markers are made by normal cells as well as by cancer cells; however, they are produced at much higher levels in cancerous conditions. These substances can be found in the blood, urine, stool, tumour tissue,…
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“Not the Stereotypical picture of sick”

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
I've never really understood why people get upset or annoyed when someone tells them they look well. Maybe I just think differently than others?  I like to look for the positive things these well-meaning messages can convey.  Most people are just trying to be nice, even if it comes over clumsy. Personally, I love it when people tell me I look well, I mean who wants to look unwell?  If I'm feeling mischievous, I sometimes say "yes..... but you should see my insides".  Most of the time, it dispels any awkwardness and they follow my laughter. Yesterday, I listened to a few video clips of a very inspiring young lady who eloquently delivered her view of what it is like to have an invisible disease and still look the 'perfect picture of health'.  She…
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Procrastination – it’s a killer

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="460"] Stiff upper lip[/caption] It's amazing to think that one minute I'm back from a holiday in the Caribbean and the next minute I'm being told the inside of my body is a 'train crash'. Just how does that work?  In July 2010, I said to the Gastroenterologist investigating my low hemoglobin "I'm not even feeling ill". He sent me to an Oncologist who then told me that without treatment, the prognosis wasn't good (i.e. I would eventually die). I also told him I wasn't feeling ill ....as if my protest was somehow going to reverse the situation! The term 'silent cancer' was apt in my case........  or was it my stiff upper lip? 20 months prior I had a colonoscopy after a short-term change of stool colour. Nothing…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – the diarrhea jigsaw

Neuroendocrine Cancer – the diarrhea jigsaw

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Diarrhea can be a symptom of many conditions, but it is particularly key in Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) Syndromes and types, in particular, Carcinoid Syndrome but also in those associated with various other NET types such as VIPoma, PPoma, Gastrinoma, Somatostatinoma, Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma.Secondly, it can be a key consequence (side effect) of the treatment for Neuroendocrine Tumours and Carcinomas, in particular following surgery where various bits of the gastrointestinal tract are excised to remove and/or debulk tumour load.There are other reasons that might be causing or contributing, including (but not limited to) endocrine problems such as hyperthryoidism, mastocytosis or Addison's disease (which may be secondary illnesses in those with NETs). It's also possible that 'non-sydromic' issues such as stress and diet are contributing. It could be caused by other things…
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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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Serotonin – the NET effect

Serotonin – the NET effect

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
picture shows an actual serotonin receptor BackgroundI'd never heard of Serotonin until I was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer in 2010. It is frequently discussed, often with contrasting views from the respondents. One common assumption/question is that it is responsible for many things that can go wrong with Neuroendocrine Cancer patients who have serotonin-producing tumours. To a certain extent, that's true but statement such as "it's the hormones" is an easy assumption to make; or an easy answer to give in response to a complex set of circumstances. It's difficult to get a definitive answer and the science behind the behaviour of our hormones isn't really 100% tied down - the human body is extremely complex.You may see serotonin referred to as a 'neurotransmitter', a 'chemical' and a 'hormone' - this…
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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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Stop talking about it, just go do it!

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
[caption id="attachment_6724" align="aligncenter" width="2896"] Medicine![/caption] "yes, we must do this one day ......." and then we don't! We're all guilty of it aren't we? For years Chris and I have discussed travelling around the coast of Scotland and we're just back from a fantastic holiday where we saw some wonderful scenery. And we did the Edinburgh Tattoo on the way there! Yet another ....... "we must do this one day......." I've even decided that looking at this wonderful scenery is a form of medicine and a way to be inspired to do more. Admittedly we were motivated by the recent declaration of the new "North Coast 500" campaign which fortunately and timely sparked us into gear. As a patient with incurable cancer, life can be tough on the body and mind. However,…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Part 4 – Amines: Food for Thought?

Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Part 4 – Amines: Food for Thought?

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
reviewed and updated 12th Feb 2022Background.Nutrition is an important subject for many cancers, but it can be particularly important for many Neuroendocrine Cancer patients. When I started writing my nutrition series (I listed the other parts below), I said that my intention is not to tell you what to eat, even though that might be a challenge for many, and this theme continues. The issue with Nutrition and Diet, in general, is that it's very individual and what works for one may not work for another.I like to focus on why such things might have an effect - patients can then experiment and see what works for them. Sometimes very few changes are required and settling on a diet that works for you is the optimum solution. p.s. Not everyone has…
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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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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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Don’t worry, I really am OK!

Don’t worry, I really am OK!

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
[caption id="attachment_6843" align="aligncenter" width="377"] I really am OK![/caption] I read an interesting article in the BBC entitled "Why people keep quiet about their battle with cancer".  The usual range of reactions and fears can be found in this story and it made me think about my own experience. I think there are two key themes involved here: Talking about Cancer Managing your illness Firstly, as I have an international audience, I thought I'd introduce what might not be a well-known British trait - the 'stiff upper lip'.  For the uninitiated, I'm defining this as "One who displays fortitude in the face of adversity and within that, exercises great self-restraint in the expression of emotion, rarely asks for help and just suffers in silence."  That perfectly explains the accompanying graphic!  That definition also covers the two key themes above, talking…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: I Can

Neuroendocrine Cancer: I Can

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Opinion.  Most people with an incurable Cancer will go through both good and bad periods.  I quite liked a quote by a fellow patient who described that as the 'ebb and flow' of living with cancer and said the flow would always return at some point.  I also liked a quote from a fellow blogger whose blog catchphrase is "Having a bad day shouldn't mean having a bad life". I don't like playing the victim so I'm just trying to make my new normal ..... normal!  And I make no apologies for my approach. When I wrote my blog post "Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer - it takes guts", that wasn't me being one of those trendy bloggers saying the sort of things people want to hear. Nor was my post "Neuroendocrine Cancer –…
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