Ronny Allan – Living with Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – Thanks a MILLION

Ronny Allan – Living with Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – Thanks a MILLION

Awareness, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
I'm totally astonished to have been able to accumulate a million views of my blog around the middle of June 2019. When I first set it up in Apr 2014, it was just to help spread awareness whilst I was walking the 84 miles of Hadrian's Wall with my wife Chris. I never thought for one minute I would still be doing it today reaching one million hits and accumulating over 14,000 followers across all my social media sites.  This is an update of an article from 7 March 2018 when I passed the 500,000 mark - so that is a staggering half a million views in 15 months to double that tally.  All thanks to you! My key aims are international level awareness, advocacy, campaigning, and support for NET patients…
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Things to do today

Things to do today

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
When you live with any illness, getting through the day can be tough. Trying to get a diagnosis, dealing with a diagnosis, undergoing treatment and then learning to recover and adapt. I've been living with my condition for almost 8 years and I'm a big advocate of keeping busy, keeping active and keeping my mind occupied. Despite this, there are times with a chronic disease, an invisible disease, an incurable and long-term disease including cancer, occasionally just doing nothing can be very productive in the long term! Of course, sometimes you have little choice if you're ill from your condition or something routine. So now and then, I just breathe in and breathe out (then repeat). It's very enjoyable! Take a break if you need one. Thanks for reading Ronny…
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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…
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Ever wonder what caused your NET?

Ever wonder what caused your NET?

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Technical NETs
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…
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NETwork with Ronny © – Community Newsletter JUNE 2017

NETwork with Ronny © – Community Newsletter JUNE 2017

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Technical NETs, Treatment
  Hi NETworkers! Welcome to my monthly 'Community' newsletter. This is June 2017's monthly summary of Ronny Allan's Community news, views and ICYMI (in case you missed it!). NET News The following news items may be of interest: NETs in the UK National News.  Great publicity.  Featuring NET Patient Foundation.  Click here. Personalised PRRT is highlighted.  Click here. Everolimus and Sunitinib. In England, NICE approves Everolimus (Afinitor) and Sunitinib (Sutent). Read more by clicking here. Videos from LACNETS.  I've not watched them all yet due to holiday but they are always great!  Click here. PRRT.  News of a PRRT trial being set up for Inoperable Pheochromocytoma/ Paraganglioma. Not yet recruiting but read more here. Immunotherapy.  Merkel Cell Carcinoma is already benefiting from an FDA approved drug with another pending.  Check out…
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Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – 8 tips for conquering fear

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer – 8 tips for conquering fear

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
  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. Stabilised Following diagnosis, I got quite a lot of attention in…
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NETwork with Ronny © – Community Newsletter MAY 2017

NETwork with Ronny © – Community Newsletter MAY 2017

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Technical NETs, Treatment
Hi NETworkers! Welcome to my monthly 'Community' newsletter. This is April 2017's monthly summary of Ronny Allan's Community news, views and ICYMI (in case you missed it!). This year, it's occurred to me that I've gone beyond just being known as a 'blog' and have transformed into something with a much wider focus within the NET Community and beyond. I've added a new section called NET News. This is a catch up of stuff I've accumulated over the past month but perhaps not yet posted or simply want to emphasise what I think is significant news about NETs or might impact or influence NETs  This section replaces 'Highlights' which will be renamed to 'NET Cancer Blog Activity' and cover my efforts to generate awareness and to help others. NET News The…
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NETwork with Ronny © – Newsletter April 2017

NETwork with Ronny © – Newsletter April 2017

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Technical NETs, Treatment
Hi NETworkers! Welcome to my sixth 'Community' newsletter. This is April 2017's monthly summary of Ronny Allan's Community news, views and ICYMI (in case you missed it!). Highlights There are two main highlights for April which stood out for me: The publication of my WEGO Health Award PODCAST.  This was a radio interview prior to the announcement that I had won the WEGO 'Best in Show Community' award.  It was designed around a red carpet scenario where the nominees are entering the award ceremony (everything in the virtual world of course).  If you missed it, you can listen to it by clicking here. The announcement of new USA database figures for incidence and prevalence of NETs. This confirms it is now mathematically impossible for NETs not to be a rare disease in…
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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, Technical NETs, Treatment
  OPINION. There's a lot of inaccurate and out of date information out there.  Some is just a lack of understanding, often with a combination of patient forum myth spreading. Some can only be described as propaganda. Myth 1:  All Neuroendocrine Tumours are benign Not 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.  However, The World Health Organisation (WHO) 2010 classification for digestive system is based on the concept that all NETs have malignant potential, and has therefore abandoned the division into benign and malignant NETs and tumours of uncertain malignant potential.  This has been…
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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="alignleft" width="150"] 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 getting on with whatever needed doing. 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 age,…
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Endoscopy for NETs – taking the camera to the tumour

Endoscopy for NETs – taking the camera to the tumour

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Technical NETs
An Endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of your body is examined using an instrument called an endoscope. This is a long, thin, flexible tube that has a light source and camera at one end. Images of the inside of your body are relayed to a television screen. Endoscopes can be inserted into the body through a natural opening, such as the mouth and down the throat, or through the bottom.  The mouth route is more accurately called a Gastroscopy and the anal route is called a Colonoscopy (or a reduced version called a Sigmoidoscopy).  An endoscope can also be inserted through a small cut (incision) made in the skin when keyhole surgery is being carried out. Gastroscopy During a routine 6 monthly check-up at the end of 2016, I mentioned to…
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Keep your light 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 you can pick up where you left off 30 years ago as if it was only yesterday and 'bravado' is not only allowed, it's expected! A week later, I received a very nice Christmas card with a message which included "...... the old light is still burning brightly".  It was a metaphor but something I needed to hear. Neuroendocrine Cancer can damage or take our body parts, cause us pain and discomfort, disrupt our lives through constant treatment and surveillance, giving…
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“You must be doing OK, you’ve not had chemotherapy”

“You must be doing OK, you’ve not had chemotherapy”

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Technical NETs, Treatment
If there's a word which is synonymous with cancer, it's chemotherapy.  It's what most people have in their mind when they are talking to a cancer patient...... 'have you had chemotherapy' or 'when do you start chemotherapy'. I was nonchalantly asked by a friend some time ago 'how did you get on with chemotherapy' - he was surprised to hear I hadn't had it despite my widespread disease.  Cue - lengthy explanation!  I wasn't annoyed by the question, I just think people automatically assume every cancer patient has to undergo some form of systemic chemotherapy.  If you read any newspaper article about cancer, they do nothing to dispel that myth, as many articles contain a story about a cancer patient with no hair. Sure, chemotherapy is not the nicest treatment to receive and it does have pretty…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – the diarrhea jigsaw

Neuroendocrine Cancer – the diarrhea jigsaw

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Technical NETs, 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 such as Irritable Bowel…
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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, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
This is what taking part in the WEGO Awards means to me Background In 2016, I was nominated for 6 awards, got to the final for 2 (Blog and Community) and then won the Best in Show Community award. In 2017, I was nominated for 3 and got to the final in all 3 - unfortunately I did not win any of them due to fierce competition. Here we are in 2018 and I've been nominated for 5 awards and made to the final in the Blog category.  This is not only another great opportunity for me as a blogger and health activist but also a further opportunity for Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness. The winners of the 2018 awards will be announced over the period 26-28 Sep 2018. Check out WEGO's…
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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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Exercise and Cancer: Forward is Forward

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
[caption id="attachment_6521" align="aligncenter" width="500"] For Cancer patients, it’s not just about how fast, how high, how heavy, how much ............... it’s about DIRECTION.[/caption] One of the very first blog posts I wrote was about exercise. Basically I said it was medicine.  I have not changed that view, I really believe it.  All cancer patients should attempt to keep active and this is even more important if you are being treated for long-term cancer. Why? Because keeping active will not only help your physical condition but it will also help you cope mentally. There are numerous pieces of research which confirm cancer patients are at risk of succumbing to depression and anxiety in addition to issues with their physical condition. Research also indicates that exercise can help. In my blog "Exercise is Medicine", I discussed…
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What you don’t know might kill you

What you don’t know might kill you

Awareness, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_6337" align="aligncenter" width="700"] In Barbados Heaven.  I didn't know I had metastatic cancer but was about to find out on return to UK[/caption] A month before I was diagnosed in July 2010, Chris and I flew off to Barbados on holiday.  Both of us were looking forward to a nice break after a hectic start to 2010.  When we got back, we both agreed it was the most relaxing holiday we had ever been on. However, whilst I was lying on a sunbed soaking up the Caribbean sun drinking 'pina coladas', Neuroendocrine Tumours were growing in my small intestine, spreading into my mesenteric lymph nodes, into my liver, into my left armpit and into my left clavicle area.  The excess serotonin being released was causing a dense fibrotic retro-peritoneal reaction (desmoplasia)…
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Let’s talk about living with NETs

Let’s talk about living with NETs

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
[caption id="attachment_4893" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Graphic courtesy of Ellie McDowell[/caption] There's a frequently asked question on certain forums along the lines of "how will I die of my Neuroendocrine Cancer?". Personally, I find it slightly unsettling, although I can understand why certain people might ask. I accept it as a question but I believe there are times and places for it and that a public forum is not the place to have it. The vast majority of people do not go to a forum to find out how they might die.  I can see a list of search terms for hits on my blog site (I don't know who searched just what was searched). Would you believe this also appears from time to time?  I just hope they found this post! I don't tend…
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It’s scary searching Cancer online

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

Living with Cancer – Turning points

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
[caption id="attachment_5953" align="alignnone" width="480"] Day 4 of 6 - entering Cumbria from Northumbria[/caption] 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…
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Don’t worry, I really am OK!

Don’t worry, I really am OK!

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy
[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 about it…
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I Can

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". When I wrote my blog "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 article "Neuroendocrine Cancer – is normally slow growing BUT ….." an attempt to invoke some sort of 'pity party'. Neither of those things are my style. Despite the metaphoric angle to the post…
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I’m only as good as my last scan

I’m only as good as my last scan

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
[caption id="attachment_5240" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Scanning - a piece of cake![/caption] "I'm only as good as my last scan". I received this comment last week in response to one of my posts and I thought it was a very pragmatic thing for someone to say. A NET patient under surveillance has regular tests at determined intervals but the one that is most likely to spot disease progression, stability or regression is a scan. Markers such as (say) Chromogranin A (CgA) or 5HIAA are clearly useful but in an ongoing surveillance scenario, they alone would not be used as a firm declaration of progression, stability or regression. Every picture tells a story and a scan is normally the confirmation required whether it's a CT, MRI or PET (etc). IF YOU CAN SEE…
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Patient power – use it!

Inspiration, Patient Advocacy
[caption id="attachment_4931" align="alignleft" width="300"] Team Effort[/caption] I recently wrote a blog entitled "Trust me, I'm a Doctor" which was a genuine attempt to say that we should try to work with our Doctors.  However, I also covered the issues that Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) patients face in finding someone who understands their disease and how best to treat it; and that can on occasion lead to issues with doctor-patient relationships and communication.  The blog then commented on a number of tips for better doctor-patient relationship and communication.  These tips were provided by a Doctor via my friends in Cancer Knowledge Network. In the blog above, there was an underlying theme indicating certain cancer patients might need to know more about their disease than would be considered normal and that can influence the nature of the…
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Sometimes you just need to climb that hill!

Sometimes you just need to climb that hill!

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
It was wet, windy and very cold and that was at the bottom of the hill I'm looking up at. It wasn't a terribly big hill but I knew it would need considerable effort and perhaps some temporary pain. Whilst the rain splashed onto our jackets and the wind howled, Chris and I looked at each other and we almost simultaneously said "do we really want to go up that in this weather?"  Oh yes ....... no pain, no gain! So we went up the hill and it hurt.  Up there, it was wetter, windier and colder! However, the 'euphoric high' was worth it.  It was like medicine healing the body and mind. [caption id="attachment_4990" align="aligncenter" width="500"] The 'euphoric high' is kicking in![/caption] Of course, the 'hill' is also a metaphor which might…
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“Trust me, I’m a Doctor”

“Trust me, I’m a Doctor”

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
One of the most frequent posts on forums is about the Patient-Doctor relationship (or occasionally a lack of it.....).   Personally, I have a lot of time and respect for all medical staff and I suspect that has been influenced by my general life experience, perhaps cemented since my diagnosis of metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer in 2010.  The vast majority of people tend to trust Doctors and I'm a bit old-fashioned in this respect.  If you have metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer, you see medical staff a lot!  Relationships and communication can therefore become more important than ever. However, people with less common conditions can perhaps be more difficult to satisfy.  A 'generalist' doctor (i.e. a GP or PCP) is unlikely to be very knowledgeable about every single condition. Even at secondary care level, certain less common conditions still need dedicated specialists and these services…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – Incurable is not untreatable

Neuroendocrine Cancer – Incurable is not untreatable

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
  OPINION. When I was being officially told I had an advanced and incurable cancer, I did what most people seem to do on films/TV ..... 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! I continue to see…
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Alcohol – the NET Effect

Alcohol – the NET Effect

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
Opinion. Social Media is currently full of 'Dry January' articles and of course many charities will benefit as people will be motivated if they are abstaining from alcohol for a good cause. Nothing wrong with that and no doubt some individuals will also see it as a way to cut down or at least lessen the effects of a very wet December! I've never been a big drinker but I do like the odd beer now and then.  When I was diagnosed with metastatic Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs), I hadn't really thought much about how this might affect my body. It wasn't until I studied a bit more about my disease and the consequences of my treatment, that I decided I would cut right down.  This turned out to be a pretty drastic cut as I can count the…
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NET Cancer Blog – 2015 in review

General
The WordPress.com stats team have prepared a 2015 annual report for my blog.  Special thanks to those who got a mention! Why not review my posts which received a 2015 Mention in Despatches ? Here's an excerpt: Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 62,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it. Click here to see the complete report.
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – a Doctor’s experience

General
[caption id="attachment_4617" align="alignleft" width="225"] Dr Michael Richardson - NET Cancer Patient[/caption] UNFORTUNATELY, MILL HILL TIMES HAVE REMOVED THE DOCTOR'S STORY FROM THEIR WEBSITE BUT I'M TRYING TO OBTAIN THE SCRIPT ELSEWHERE. When I was undergoing my initial treatment and surgery I didn't really have the knowledge I have now.  I was initially treated by experienced Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) specialists in an established NET Centre and I guess I felt comfortable with what was happening.  In hindsight, I wish I had studied the disease earlier as I would have understood at the time what was actually happening to my body and more fully understood the treatments I was to undergo. As we all know, Cancer knows no boundaries and even Doctors can succumb to his disease. Despite this, I was still surprised to…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Survivor Wilko Johnson – from dying to living.  Rock and Roll!

Neuroendocrine Cancer Survivor Wilko Johnson – from dying to living. Rock and Roll!

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
  [caption id="attachment_14806" align="aligncenter" width="785"] Wilko Johnson performing at The Royal Albert Hall, London on 26th September 2017[/caption] I recently blogged about a well-known BBC political reporter who has a Neuroendocrine Cancer with a Lung Primary.  However, in the usual media 'double speak' which can sometimes pervade the coverage of such events, he is said to have Lung Cancer.  As I said in that article, sometimes with Neuroendocrine Cancer - the devil is in the detail and you just need to dig to find it. Annoying, we shouldn't need to dig as he doesn't have Lung Cancer.  I wrote about this anatomical issue here.  This is exactly what happened to Steve Jobs and Aretha Franklin. No sooner had I published the Nick Robinson article, I was alerted to the broadcasting of…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – my initial surgery – a patient experience (part 2)

Neuroendocrine Cancer – my initial surgery – a patient experience (part 2)

Technical NETs
  [caption id="attachment_8022" align="aligncenter" width="2048"] Surgeon Mr Neil Pearce and Interventional Radiologist Dr Brian Stedman[/caption] The surgery on 9 Nov 2010 had lasted 9 hours but according to my surgeon Mr Neil Pearce, I tolerated it well.  My first week was quite tough and I outlined how this went in my blog 'patient experience' part 1.  If you've not read it yet, please click on this link before reading any further. By this stage of my stay, I'm now minus most of the temporary tubes attached to my body, a good sign of recovery. The one which seemed to offer me the greatest freedom when removed, was the urine catheter. It doubled my speed down the hospital corridor during my daily exercises.  It was also so much easier to get to the toilet, a much frequented…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Surgery – a patient experience (part 1)

Neuroendocrine Cancer Surgery – a patient experience (part 1)

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Technical NETs, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_4373" align="aligncenter" width="678"] Chris and I with our friend and hero Mr Neil Pearce - my surgeon.[/caption] First Surgery - 8th - 26th November 2010 Memories of my 18 day stay in hospital from 8 - 26 Nov 2010, are not only reminding me of how important that particular treatment was to be, but also how surreal it felt at the time. Some of it is still a blur, particularly the early days where the morphine was in control.  For many NET patients, surgery can be a mainstay treatment, even for those with metastatic disease.  In fact, I now know from my own research that NETs is one of a small number of cancers for which surgical debulking can in many cases confer some survival advantage in a metastatic…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – the devil is in the detail

General
[caption id="attachment_4343" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Nick Robinson BBC[/caption] Nick Robinson, well-known and ex-BBC Political Editor starts his new job today (16 Nov 15) on BBC Radio 4. He was until earlier this year, the most recognised political reporter face on UK TV, frequently stood outside 10 Downing St reporting on anything politics and at any time of the day. Like a lot of people, Nick's life changed when he was diagnosed with Cancer in Feb 2015. A self-confessed workaholic, he is now hoping to live a more balanced life after surviving lung cancer according to an article in the Sunday Times this weekend. He assumes the post vacated by James Naughtie, an extremely hard act to follow - a man who would frequently sink his teeth into a politician's leg and not let…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – a difficult jigsaw

Neuroendocrine Cancer – a difficult jigsaw

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
A couple of years ago, I received a request from a reader asking if I would write an article about all the symptoms experienced by a Neuroendocrine Cancer patient and how to sort out what is and what isn't associated with NETs. Although I chuckled and raised eyebrows at the request, inside I was genuinely humbled that someone thought I was capable of achieving this herculean task.  I actually gave it quite a bit of thought to the point of compiling a matrix of types of NET, main symptoms, cross-referenced with the symptoms of the most common reported comorbidities. After it started to look like it might be bigger than the Empire State Building, I came to the conclusion that it's an almost impossible task for a wee Scottish guy with less common disease :-)  I also started…
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Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – Grade and Stage (incorporating WHO 2017 changes)

Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – Grade and Stage (incorporating WHO 2017 changes)

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Technical NETs
  One of the most discussed and sometimes confusing subjects on forums is the staging and grading of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (NENs). Mixing them up is a common error and so it's important to understand the difference despite the apparent complexity. If I was to make a list of questions for my specialist/Oncologist at diagnosis, it would include "What is the stage, grade and differentiation of my cancer".  To enable me to synchronise with the documented guidance, I'm going to use the following WHO 2017 approved terms in this post: Neuroendocrine Neoplasm (NEN) - all types of Neuroendocrine tumour of whatever grade (please note Neoplasm is another word for tumour) Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) - all well-differentiated tumours (an explanation of differentiation will be provided below) Neuroendocrine Carcinoma (NEC) - all poorly differentiated…
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Your Money or Your Life

Your Money or Your Life

Inspiration, Survivorship, Treatment
As I have a 2 year old post about Danielle, I wanted to preface it with this message. It is with great sadness that I let you know Danielle Tindle passed away at the end of August 2017 after a prolonged battle with Neuroendocrine Carcinoma. She had been fighting cancer in one form or another for 12 years and became passionate in campaigning for more attention for young cancer patients.  I've been following her story for almost 2 years and she has really inspired me.  The title of this article is based on the title of a TV programme about her and her campaign to gain access to new drugs.  I had chatted with Danielle online about some of the story below and I hope I've interpreted it correctly.   RIP…
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Scanxiety – I just don’t get it!

Scanxiety – I just don’t get it!

Inspiration, Survivorship
OPINION The internet is full of blogs and articles about a subject which is described as 'scanxiety' - the joining of the words 'scan' and 'anxiety'. I also noted some authors using the words 'scanxiety' and 'anxiety' interchangeably which in my opinion is clearly wrong as by definition it is only an anxiety about scans and I guess incorporates the results of scans.  Not that we need separate names - at the end of the day, it's just anxiety regardless of whether it is waiting on the results of a biopsy, blood test, urine test, or anything else related to an illness.  No-one goes around saying 'blood-testxiety' or 'biopsyxiety'. Why scans? ‘Scanxiety’  - I just don't get it  ......or more accurately I just don't get overly anxious about having a scan or…
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Not all Cancer is simple

General
[caption id="attachment_4135" align="alignleft" width="670"] Not all Cancer is simple[/caption] So Victoria Derbyshire has breast cancer and has used her 'workplace' as a platform to let people know she is a determined survivor. Nothing wrong with that, it's great cancer awareness for some and inspiration for others (including me). However, reading through various newspaper follow-up articles, blogs and social media comments, I can see criticism by many for producing an over simplified message (see picture below).  Although many of us will be wishing it was so, not all cancer is simple! Take Neuroendocrine Cancer for example. For some, this 'silent' cancer can take years to be finally diagnosed whilst the patient is misdiagnosed with other conditions often with debilitating symptoms. Once diagnosed, surgery (if it's possible) is just one of a number of treatment options…
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Let’s attack Cancer metaphors

Let’s attack Cancer metaphors

General
In the past 24 months, I've read dozens of articles on the subject of cancer metaphors and in particular their use in describing cancer experiences with the words 'fight', 'battle' and other 'military' sounding terms.  The authors say that perhaps this is not the best language to use.  One author used the term 'violence' to describe these type of metaphors.  A ridiculous misrepresentation of the metaphor in my opinion. Let me put my cards right on the table as I would hate to twist the meaning of words or the inference of any metaphors I might use.  I don't like Cancer - it attacked me, it attacked my family, it attacked others I know, it has killed people I know....... it has killed millions of people and changed many lives. I'm 'fighting' Cancer.  I'm in a 'battle' with Cancer. But I don't mean all that…
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Screw that diagnosis and get on with it!

General
  [caption id="attachment_3902" align="alignleft" width="300"] Screw that diagnosis and get on with it![/caption] Every now and then I see a positive story during my travels around the internet.  When I saw this one from K**** in Pennsylvania, I had to share.  If you're feeling a little bit down and need cheering up, dig out this blog and take a read :-) K**** wrote: "I began my Carcinoid journey about 7 years ago, newly married to a wonderful man and his daughter at the age of 43.  I was also newly retired (from CPA and also Large Animal/Equine Surgical Veterinary Assistant) and was looking forward to a nice, peaceful, fun, loooong life. But, things get in the way and can get bumpy - cancer, being one of them (and a now, 16yo…
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I’m still here

I’m still here

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

Sorry, I’m not in service

General
Featured by Macmillan Cancer - check out this link. Featured by Cancer Knowledge Network - check out this link. It's good to be busy, it can take your mind off stuff you don't really want to think about. That was my tactic after being diagnosed with incurable Neuroendocrine Cancer.  I just kept working and working and was still sending work emails and making telephone calls on the day I was being admitted to hospital for major surgery. After all, how could they possibly function without me? Although I was banned from work after the surgery, I still dropped an email to let them know I was doing cartwheels down the hospital corridor. They expected nothing less. I guess the image of 'invincibility' was important to me at that time.  It was part of my personal…
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Surgery is risky but so is driving a car

Surgery is risky but so is driving a car

Treatment
I enjoyed reading the recent blog written by Dr Eric Liu entitled The Complications of Surgery.  In his article, Dr Liu, himself a surgeon, explains that surgery comes with risks and patients should be made aware and able to discuss these risks with their doctors. This got me thinking about my own experience which goes back to the autumn (fall) of 2010 when I first met my surgeon.  At that time, there were a few articles about whether surgery or biochemistry was the best treatment for certain types, grades and stages of Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs).  Another difficult issue for NETs can be the decision to cut or not to cut - as outlined in this article. NETs are not that much different to other Cancers in this respect - there…
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I may be stable (..ish) but I still need support and surveillance

I may be stable (..ish) but I still need support and surveillance

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
With incurable but treatable cancers such as metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer, 'Stable' is normally not the end of the matter, for many there is still a long road ahead and that road may not be straight or flat. The long road may be considered an advantage by some given that with very aggressive cancers, incurable can frequently mean terminal.  The surveillance must continue in case of a recurrence. It's important to understand that 'Stable' simply means the disease is "under control" with tests and scans showing the cancer hasn't changed over time. One of the disadvantages of 'incurable but treatable' is that Quality of Life (QoL) can in many cases be compromised due to the consequences of cancer and /or treatment. However, if specialist treatment, surveillance and support are all in…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Forums: frighteningly good or good at frightening?

Neuroendocrine Cancer Forums: frighteningly good or good at frightening?

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
OPINION When I was diagnosed, I was happy with my own research and kept away from forums on the advice of a fellow patient who said they can be negative. Just before my second major operation in 2011, I decided to take the plunge and registered with an online web forum (not a Facebook one). Looking back to that period, I wasn't really a major player, more of a 'lurker'. I found it quite 'cliquey' and I should have listened to the initial advice of that fellow patient!  So I left it. Joining Forums In 2013, I joined several large Facebook closed groups which function as forums. After 4 years, I felt more experienced and knowledgeable and I wanted to learn more about the disease to help with my blog activity. Be prepared!…
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Please flush after use!

Please flush after use!

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

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
Cancer isn’t always a one-time event. It can be a chronic (ongoing) illness, much like diabetes or heart disease. Cancer can be closely watched and treated, but sometimes it never completely goes away. The cancer may be 'controlled' with treatment, meaning it might seem to go away or stay the same, and it doesn’t grow or spread as long as you are getting appropriate treatment. Sometimes the treatment shrinks the cancer, but the cancer is still there – it doesn’t go away and stay away – it’s not cured.  More people are living with cancer than ever before and the ratio is on the increase thanks to better treatments. For the first 18 months following my diagnosis, I underwent a significant number of treatments and tests.  As I continue living with my cancer, that tempo doesn’t…
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The C Word

General
'The C Word' or 'The Big C' - the subject which must not be discussed.  Or is this now an out of date phrase?  I read a useful article a month ago where the author debated where we might be if, 50 years ago, we were as open about cancer as we are now (there, I said the word).  Nowadays you cannot turn a page in a newspaper without seeing a story of sadness, inspiration or medical science progress. Certainly the latter has played a huge part in reducing cancer mortality rates and sending more people into remission. We now have much better tools to discover and treat cancer. Moreover, because we are increasingly open about cancer, there is more awareness. According to Cancer Research UK, as we all live longer, more than one…
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The trouble with the NET (Part 2) – Alternative Therapies – what’s the harm?

The trouble with the NET (Part 2) – Alternative Therapies – what’s the harm?

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
  [caption id="attachment_3050" align="aligncenter" width="620"] “But it works… I read it in the news!”[/caption] You may remember my article entitled The trouble with the NET (Part 1) which was a lighthearted but still serious discussion about the dangers of self-treatment on the internet. Linked to that blog was a very popular article written by the scientists at Cancer Research UK debunking some cancer myths which seem to regularly patrol the NET and social media. Many well meaning people will send you articles they saw on the 'NET' about this and that treatment which claims to cure cancer.  They also post them on social media increasing the reach to thousands of people, some of whom are not in the right frame of mind to see the risks.  The vast majority of…
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Chemotherapy for Neuroendocrine Cancer

Chemotherapy for Neuroendocrine Cancer

Awareness, Technical NETs, Treatment
Chemotherapy and Neuroendocrine Cancer One of the unusual aspects of Neuroendocrine Cancer is that chemotherapy is not normally considered as a 'standard' treatment unlike many other cancers. One exception is high grade (Grade 3) where it is often a first and/or second line therapy.  Poorly differentiated Neuroendocrine disease is normally labelled as Neuroendocrine Carcinoma (NEC) but worth pointing out there is now a Grade 3 well differentiated classification known as a 'Grade 3 NET' rather than Grade 3 NEC. Depending on Ki67 score, there could be differing treatment options for Grade 3 NET and Grade 3 NEC.  Read more in my articles Staging and Grading and High Grade. Many people think Chemotherapy has a short life span due to recent advances in medical science, some citing Immunotherapy as it's replacement.…
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Cancer doesn’t take holidays (but I do)

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
[caption id="attachment_2911" align="alignleft" width="300"] Mt Jacinto near Palm Springs[/caption] After diagnosis in July 2010, holidays were put on the back burner, there were too many problems and too many risks - not least of which was the lack of overseas insurance cover for my condition (well, I'm sure they'd quote me but could I afford it?). After 2 years of treatment including several surgeries, I was feeling more confident and my body had become stronger, holidays were put back on the agenda, but nothing too strenuous, nothing too far away. However, 2 more years down the road, Chris and I are just back from a 12,000 mile round trip (21 hours on an aeroplane), around 1200 miles/20 hours of driving from beaches to deserts and mountains and back again, 8 different hotels…
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No Fear

No Fear

Inspiration, Survivorship
It's that time again, every 6 months I need some checks. I've done the specialist blood test (Chromogranin A - CgA) and the 24 hour urine (5HIAA) and am waiting on my CT scan appointment. It's also time for my annual Echocardiogram. I then see my Consultant and he delivers the news.  Happy days :-) I positively look forward to my tests and I cannot wait to get into that scanner! 'Scanxiety' isn't in my dictionary.  Why? Because testing is one thing that's going to keep me alive for as long as possible.  If I don't get regularly tested, then one day I might just 'keel over' because something wasn't spotted early enough.  Even in the event of 'not so good news', I still see that as a positive because it…
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Every Day is NET Cancer Day!

Every Day is NET Cancer Day!

Awareness, Inspiration, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
Opinion.  In 2014, I experienced NET Cancer Day (10 Nov) on a major scale for the first time since its inception. Prior to that, it didn't really do that much for me.  Spookily I even woke up on 10 Nov 2010 after major surgery.  Read about this here - I even woke up on November 10th after major surgery. The build up to these events normally doesn't start in earnest until around 3 months prior to 10 Nov. On or around this day, people meet up, patient conferences and support meetings are held, thousands of tweets and Facebook posts are published, people make and eat cakes, and money is raised. I suspect awareness of NETs benefits but these things can quickly be forgotten outside the rather small world of NET Cancer patients, specialists,…
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I woke up on NET Cancer day

I woke up on NET Cancer day

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Technical NETs, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_2130" align="alignnone" width="600"] what I mainly remember was my wife Chris holding my hand which gave me a great deal of much-needed comfort and security[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_10856" align="alignnone" width="300"] Featured this post[/caption] [caption id="attachment_10865" align="alignnone" width="252"] Featured this post[/caption]   It was 10th November 2010 just after midnight. I gradually woke up after a marathon 9 hour surgery - the first of what was to be several visits to an operating theatre.  The last thing I remembered before going 'under' was the voices of the surgical staff. When I woke up, I remember it being dark and I appeared to be constrained and pinned down by the dozen or so tubes going in and out of my weak and battered body.  I can still remember the feeling today, it was…
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Living with an incurable cancer – does mind over matter help?

Living with an incurable cancer – does mind over matter help?

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
When I started blogging in 2014, it was relatively easy - all I needed to do was to talk about my experience to help raise awareness of Neuroendocrine Cancer; then talk about my hike along Hadrian's Wall for a local Charity.  The blog was only ever intended to be a temporary supporting tool for the walk and its build up; but I was persuaded by good reviews and viewing numbers to keep it going.  That suddenly made it more difficult! In my early blogs, there were several 'no go areas' which were either too complex or potentially controversial.  I didn't really have much time to think them through properly at that point in time. However, I've since dabbled in some of these areas to test the waters.   I'm not a healthcare…
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Glass half full or half empty?

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
Most people have probably heard of the saying "is your glass half empty or half full".  If you said 'half empty', you have more of a pessimistic view on life; if you said 'half full', you tend to have more of an optimistic or positive outlook. I don't think a positive outlook actually means you permanently wear 'rose tinted glasses' and act like everything is fine. I think it just means you approach potentially negative situations in a more positive and productive way.  I agree that sometimes it’s hard not to veer into negative thoughts or actions from time to time. I'm only human and I've been in some dark places in the last 5 years since diagnosis. However, I believe to continuously be in 'half empty mode' can have a…
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Hadrian’s Wall Day 6 – Mission Complete!

Hadrian’s Wall Day 6 – Mission Complete!

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

My right-hand woman – Chris

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
There's been a lot in my blog about cancer, the cancer patient and the medical teams. However, we sometimes forget to mention the close family and friends who are also a piece of the cancer jigsaw. Without these people, it's possible the patient would potentially have a much poorer quality of life. I've had tremendous support from my immediate family and many of my friends. Some of my closest friends have almost been functioning as counsellors. I'm in a much better place than I was nearly 8 years ago but I have a lot of people to thank for some excellent progress.  My son & daughter's families have all been there for me and although my 4 grandsons don't quite understand the situation, their presence in my life is a…
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North of the wall is a dangerous place – you must never go there!

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
  There was a 60 minute silence last night as another episode of Game of Thrones was aired.  Not a Facebook post or tweet in sight.  This has to be 'up there' in a list of the best TV series ever?  Don't know about you but I'm sometimes confused about who is who and how they are related and/or connected!  (see useful chart at the bottom of this post) Chris and I love the introduction bit.  She likes the music, I like the geography.  There are some obvious correlations there, e.g. 'The Wall' is meant to relate to Hadrian's Wall with those horrible barbarian Scots to the north :-)  Thank God Hadrian's Wall and the climate in particular, isn't as bad as portrayed on GOT!   I did contemplate using 'trousers' as…
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