My invisible illness is not invisible to me

My invisible illness is not invisible to me

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
The term invisible illness refers to any medical condition that is not outwardly visible to others, even healthcare professionals. Invisible illnesses encompass a broad range of conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, dementia, psychiatric illness, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer.  Many Neuroendocrine Cancer patients look outwardly healthy, and this can often lead to a lack of appreciation of the potential dangers lurking in their life, the person's actual capabilities, and how they cope with their condition. I am sure those reading who have a Neuroendocrine Cancer diagnosis will find something similar to their own experiences. Growing invisibly inside me for years before making a vague announcementI had no idea the cancer was growing in me for years. Perhaps some of my routine illnesses weren't as routine as I thought.  Sorry too late, I'm metastatic,…
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Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) – Neuroendocrine Cancer

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) – Neuroendocrine Cancer

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
In my patient support group of 7000+, fatigue is very commonly discussed, and it certainly gets bags of empathy from the readers.  I remember being really tired in the first few years after my diagnosis and in the years preceding it. As I was very focused on my work in those days, I was putting it down to the rigours of my working practices, commuting, overnighting, and working far too many hours in a day.  In 2010, my diagnosis was triggered by symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia which was almost certainly connected to my cancer and feelings of fatigue for quite a while leading up to the diagnosis.  That said, I gradually got back into old ways after diagnosis and pretty much continued to put my tiredness down to the same…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – is normally slow growing BUT …..

Neuroendocrine Cancer – is normally slow growing BUT …..

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
But I have a lot of be thankful for[caption id="attachment_24013" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] click on the picture to read[/caption]  BUT......… here's a list of 10 things I'm NOT thankful to Neuroendocrine Cancer for!Thanks for growing inside me for years before making your vague announcementSorry too late, I'm metastatic and around 50% of patients will be at diagnosis (so I'm not alone!). It's very SNEAKY!No thanks for making a right mess inside my body!I mean, I look really good, I look really well, but you should see my INSIDESNo thanks for generating fibrosis throughout my mesentery and retroperitoneum!I really didn’t know what to make of this issue at diagnosis, although I did know the aorta was pretty important!  Fortunately, I had a surgeon who had operated on many NET patients and has…
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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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Weight – the NET Effect

Weight – the NET Effect

Diet and Nutrition, Survivorship
Firstly, let me say that I have no intention of advising you how to lose or gain weight!  Rather, I'd like to discuss what factors might be involved and why people with NETs might lose or gain weight either at diagnosis or after treatment.  Clearly, I can talk freely about my own experience and associated weight issues. If nothing else, it might help some in thinking about what is causing their own weight issues.I once wrote a patient story for an organisation and the headline was "Did you mean to lose weight".  Those were actually the words a nurse said to me after I nonchalantly told her I thought I'd lost some weight (....about half a stone).  I answered the question with "no" and this response triggered a sequence of…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Nodes, Nodules, Lesions (and false alarms!)

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Nodes, Nodules, Lesions (and false alarms!)

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
A fairly common disposition of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms is a primary with associated local/regional secondary's (e.g. lymph nodes), and often with liver metastases. Technically speaking, the liver is distant. However, many metastatic patients appear to have additional and odd appearances in even more distant places, including (but not limited to) the extremities and the head & neck. Certain things are known about the behaviour of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (NENs) (a term for Neuroendocrine Tumours and Neuroendocrine Carcinoma) and specialists will be analysing many factors when working out the type of NEN and how it might behave. This is useful in cases of unknown primaries as it can give them clues to the possible location(s). Read more about these issues in my article "Needle in a Haystack".How does cancer spread? In addition to…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Troublesome Thyroids

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Troublesome Thyroids

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

Living with Cancer – Turning points

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