Most people in life know someone with cancer. Or are knowledgable about signs or symptoms of some kind of cancer. However the rarer less known conditions need the help of Doctors, writers, patients, etc to promote awareness to get their name out there and help others know what to look for. “Doctors are taught ‘when you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras,’ meaning a doctor should first think about what is a more common and potentially more likely—diagnosis. In oncology zebras have to be thought about. If a clinician isn’t as familiar with rare conditions, they may spend too much time looking for the proverbial horses. One such rare disease is Neuroendocrine Cancer and carcinoid syndrome. November 10th is Net Cancer Day. For the patient and the diagnosis it is all so important for the doctor in the big important Think zebra not horse.
Getting a diagnosis of Net Cancer can be difficult. It often goes misdiagnosed and the diagnosis is delayed and very often a person is told they have the cancer once it has spread to other organs and is incurable.
Living with Nets and carcinoid syndrome isn’t always easy. There are days it can really take over your life and just getting out of bed is a real struggle. However, there are great treatments and support networks out there to help you on your way. Looking after your body, eating the right things, meeting up with people and talking can all help in your cancer journey. I certainly know meeting up with likeminded people from The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust and sharing experiences has been a lifesaver. Making super friends along the way, the only down side is losing some dear ones to this damn condition.
On this eve of Net Cancer Day I think of the amazing buddies I have made since the day I was told I had carcinoid syndrome. I keep up with and chat to friends we share what’s going on in our medical life. I have lost and miss some lovely zebra, including Ann, Didi, Pam, Janny, Margaret, Becky, Norman, Linda. Celebrity zebra have included Audrey Hepburn,Steve Jobs, Aretha Franklin.
Audrey Hepburn’s son did a newspaper interview – you can view it HERE
Common symptoms of NETs include:
Flushing (redness, warmth) in the face or neck without sweating.
Diarrhea, including at nighttime.
Shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat/palpitations.
High blood pressure.
Abdominal pain, cramping, feeling of fullness.
Unexplained weight gain or loss.
The symptoms of a neuroendocrine tumour depend on where in the body it is and what hormones it produces.
Diagnosing neuroendocrine tumours
Many tests can be used to diagnose neuroendocrine tumours, including blood tests, urine tests, scans and a biopsy (where a small tissue sample is taken for closer examination).
octreotide scans – where slightly radioactive liquid is injected into your veins and a special camera is used to highlight any cancerous cells
Treating Net Cancer and Carcinoid Syndrome
Every patient has their treatment plan tailor-made for them. No one person is exactly the same. They may have the same germ cell. Could have been diagnosed with almost literally the same diagnosis – it does not mean the treatment will be the same. All our bodies react differently, we give off different hormones, etc. And to be honest we may not have the same attitude to the consultants conversation in the room.
For some people surgery is an option.
Somatostatin Analogues – may be used to help control the secretion of hormones if abnormal levels are being produced
Embolisation – Treatment that blocks the blood supplyusing chemotherapy, radiotherapy or radiofrequency ablation
Treatments used for some Inoperable and metastatic cancer:
Everolimus is taken as a tablet, sunitinib is taken as a capsule and lutetium is given into a vein.
I’m nearly 55 years of age and the words Huntington’s Disease are heard and said without thinking. Not thought of as strange or unusual. Why because I first officially heard the actual word Huntington’s when I was approaching my teenage years. My aunt (my Dad’s sister in law) was diagnosed with it. My auntie Josie was a beautiful lady; inside and out. Anyone that knows me will know that I am a dog with a bone, when I hear something I want to know everything about it. Curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back. Thats me. In the mid to late 1970’s it wasn’t something you shouted from the roof tops. And the ‘grown ups’ discussed things behind closed doors. I heard this word ‘Huntington’s’ getting mentioned often and then started seeing a change in my beautiful aunt. As a family we all spent a lot of time together. I spent quite a lot of time with my aunt and uncle’s 4 children. One day I came out with it, I was almost 14 years of age and I felt I needed to know more, those days you just couldn’t jump on a computer and search google. My aunt was amazing, she was actually brutally honest. She told me she loved my honesty and gumption for asking. She said when the time would come that no-one would be able to understand her talking properly, in fact she may hardly not be able to be understood at all, she herself would still be able to hear and would understand everything. She said she was nervous of being a prisoner in her own body. She laid her hand on mine, my heart thumped so hard I could hear it echoing in my ears. She asked “you will still talk to me”. I took her hand with my other and said, “am I my Mother’s daughter am I not. I can talk for Scotland. Of course I will”. She said to me if any of my children get this I beg for a cure in the future. Huntington’s disease is hereditary and there is a 50% of inheriting it. Bang on in my aunts family the two younger children, Susan and Colin were diagnosed. Colin chose never to marry, however prior to getting confined to a wheelchair if Colin was still here today and was promoting awareness he would say It’s me Colin, I’ve got Huntington’s Disease. Are you listening?
So what is Huntington’s Disease? It is a devastating rare hereditary disorder of the brain. Your chances of getting diagnosed is 50% if you have a parent with the disease. It affects the nervous system of the body; the network of tissues in the brain and the spinal cord that coordinates your body’s activities. Everyone with Huntington’s through time will deteriorate physically, cognitively and emotionally. Till eventually they are fully dependent on the help of others, whether it is family, carers or nursing staff; or a mixture of all. Symptoms usually rear their ugly head between the age of 30 an 50 years of age, with symptoms getting worse over a period of 10 to 25 years until the person dies. Huntington’s affects between 1 and 10,000 and 1 in 20,000 people in the UK. Unfortunately, as yet there is no cure and very little awareness.
The Month of May is Huntington’s Disease Awareness Month. The wonderful organisation; The Huntington’s Disease Alliance UK and Ireland are running a campaign Family Matters. The Alliance consists of four independent charities throughout UK and Ireland. The four independent charities all have the same goals and strive to help those affected by the disease, promote awareness and do their best to increase the understanding of UK wide of Huntington’s Disease.
Charities like these are important to get the message out there. Also to help those living with the illness, offer support, put you in the right direction in a time of need.
My auntie Josie was such an inspiration to me. Despite her own fears and worries she brought up with her supportive husband, my uncle, 4 lovely children. In her early days she was a Sunday school teacher. A loving mum, a super aunt. My Mum said she made not just a great sister in law but a great sister. It seemed so quickly that her speech became slurred and for many they didn’t know what she was saying. Her hands and legs were turned inwards as time went on and walking went from slow, to staggering to not at all. In the early days some people would assume she maybe had a glass of wine or six. But soon it was apparent that it was much more. I always remembered the conversation we had that day, and I would blether and tell her of my day, and would not care how long it took, I would wait till she finished asking me the question. It was usually, how was my brother’s children? or or the like. One thing she never lost, despite getting this cruel debilitating condition was her caring nature. Life for my auntie Josie was difficult, but yet she had very happy times, such a loving caring devoted family surrounded by love. For my aunt her husband was her rock. He cared dutifully for her in the latter stage, with the four children rallying round as and when they could.
As a family we are all very close. Close brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles and cousins. We all saw and still see each other fairly regularly. Most definitely keep in touch. I spent many a day in my summer break with my Johnston cousins. One thing we certainly all do is look out for each other. Try and help or offer advice if we can, when we can. The four children that were born and could be carrying the gene did not get treated any different. Laughter, games, studying, work, etc went on. Then came the time for the tests. The two youngest, Susan (same age as me) and Colin tested positive.
Colin, is a fun character. My punk rocker cousin in his tartan suit. Who drove stock cars. Loved classic cars. Collected them, looked and drove them. Was a fabulous boxer, with numerous trophies. An independent soul. He never married or took a partner. Lived with his Dad then moved to his own home, he loved his own house. He loved his music even more and travelled to punk rock festivals. He went on cruises. Loved his family dearly. His nieces were everything to him. When he started to struggle with walking he took his two nieces Leah and Kara on a Cruise, they loved him so much they helped care for him at times when he was less able. Colin liked a rum and a dance, and when he had to get his peg feed and was in his wheelchair, he didn’t let things get him down. He would put a little rum down his tube and he took to the floor on his wheels in his tartan suit. The sad fact is Colin had to get a peg feed because he lost his swallowing function; this was a decision he didn’t make lightly. It was probably one of the hardest decisions he had to make. And I’m not entirely sure he really wanted it. For someone that was so active and loved to sing, dance etc. This disease is so cruel to watch. To see my beautiful cousin struggle to tell me he still loves me was so hard. But at the same time it was so good to see how courageous he was, putting all his strength into a conversation, that love was still there and he definitely could still make me smile.
A very happy memory I have is a family BBQ held by Susan and Colin’s sister Karen. We had a super time. As you walked into the garden you were welcomed with smiling faces, the sound of children laughing and adults chit chatting and generally having a great time. Karen’s children, Kara and Heather and Susan’s girls, Leah and Billy would get up at any time needed and automatically fell into the role of carers without looking like a carer. Just that help with a sip cup, or cutting up the food to the correct size. A beautiful caring family that looked after each other without having to ask; the automatic care, willing ear to listen, physical help, loving unconditionally.
Colin’s symptoms worsened. It became impossible to live in the house that became his beautiful safe home and despite having carers in several times per day and family popping in the heart wrenching decision of moving swiftly came into his life. Colin needed to go into residential care, the difficulty was finding one that took a person diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. Much to Colin’s disappointment Colin lived the last days of his life in Balhousie Rumbling Bridge Care Home. Colin was no longer a five minute drive or a 15 minute walk from his sisters and nieces and close proximity to his brother, Billy, but a drive across the Forth. He was still easy enough to visit and my sister Hazel visited on occasions too, and at times took my Dad. Colin loved to get a visitor, whether it was a sibling, cousin or friend. Rumbling Bridge Care Home did a fabulous job in looking after Colin. Sadly we lost our Colin to Huntington’s Disease. We had a funeral in Edinburgh in true punk rock fashion at Colin’s request.
Susan continues to battle with Huntington’s Disease every day. I spoke to her on chat yesterday. And to her daughter Leah, we are so looking forward to the restrictions of covid getting lifted so Leah can drive her Mum down to mine for a visit. It’s a bit of an expedition, but will be worth it. Leah has room for Mum’s wheel chair in her car. I live in the country, the house is a detached, parking right at the front door. Plenty of room. And certainly no trip zones. So all good. I am so looking forward to seeing Suzie Pie, I haven’t seen her personally for a while especially due to covid restrictions. Susan’s speech is now slurred and walking worsened she needs the chair. I am so heartened she has a devoted compassionate family. Although it’s heartbreaking to see my cousin deteriorating so rapidly from the last time we met, the person I know and love is still there. Life for my beautiful cousin is like living on a knife edge. A simple meal, something most people take for granted is a terrifying ordeal. Every meal, literally any piece of food or drink that goes down is dangerous. Just recently Suzie pie aspirated into her lungs and then had to get treated for a severe chest infection. Unlike her brother Susan does not have a peg feed and is now passed the point of being able to get one. I long for our next meet up so we can have something that hasn’t been allowed for what feels like an eternity an almighty hug and we can spend some time together. We always share “cousin time” it just takes a little longer to have the conversation. But as they say Good things come to those who wait but better things come to those who are patient.
This disease changes the daily lives of everyone that is affected with it. The person that is diagnosed is eventually trapped inside their own body. Forced to get help from others, be it physical and emotional. Even the fittest and most ambitious of us, as time goes by, our bodies get consumed by HD. Families and friends do their ultimate best to help and care both physically and emotionally. However at times they feel the pressure and need reassurance; we need to remember they too are fighting their own battle. Living with Huntington’s Disease affects the daily life of the person with it, but those living around them. It can have a massive impact on those who live in the home. When symptoms start to worsen and physical symptoms begin to progress equipment starts to invade the house. Yes its a fabulous help. But at the same time, another tick of the box that the disease is progressing in the direction you were hoping would take a little longer.
I hope by reading a little about my aunt and cousins you have been able to open your eyes to Huntington’s Disease and I’ve managed to raise awareness of this crippling disease that only takes over the body of those diagnosed but can haunt the minds of all those affected.
The awareness month of May is what is needed to spread the word. Let people feel more relaxed and knowledgeable about the disease. Family Matters. Absolutely fabulous, please take a look at their website. I have also been heartened to see on the television on the BBC drama Casualty, A&E Doctor Ethan Hardy has tested positive for HD.
The Family Matters Campaign is to raise awareness of Huntington’s Disease. This can only be a good thing. They are inviting those who have experience of Huntington’s to send in any information they would like to share, in the form of pictures, words, thoughts; it can be a poem for example, a quote, a few photographs. These will be shared on a digital community space called The Living History Project – it will be shared on The Living History Wall
To help promote awareness of Huntington’s it is important to share information not only by talking about it, reading pamphlets, etc, but moving on to the digital age. Sharing on television, websites, social media, etc. As I said earlier the BBC have brought it in on the storyline on Casualty which is fabulous for raising awareness. Charities such as #FamilyMatters help so many people and work so hard especially promoting awareness of #HuntingtonsDisease during #HDAwarenessMonth of May. You can find a relevant organisation in your area:
@HDA_tweeting – England and Wales
@HDAssocNI – Northern Ireland
@HDAI_ie – Ireland
@ScottishHD – Scotland
The Scottish Huntington’s Association avidly campaigns for Huntington’s disease charities. Olympic medalist and double world champion rower, Sarah Winckless is patron. Huntington’s is in Sarah’s family on her Mum’s side. Sarah herself has tested positive for the gene.
One thing I have to say I have rarely met a person with Huntington’s that has been a complainer in life. They have such a hard deck of cards to deal with in life and yet always seem to make the most of it.
So while you may have been complaining about being trapped in your 4 walls for a few weeks or months due to Government restrictions remember the people that are fighting a battle to get out there all the time.
Over the last year I have been missing out in meeting up with chums and support network at net cancer support meetings organised by TAECT We have however had zoom meetings. Had a chance to chat and share a story or two over the internet. Our last meeting we had a guest specialist. The zoom meeting was different this time it was a question and answer session with dietician/nutritionist, Tara Whyand specialising in net cancer and carcinoid syndrome. On a Wednesday evening we were talking about nutrition
The zoom meeting was very well attended with a great variety of questions. It was informative and interesting. Living with a peg feed you may wonder why I want to take part in the discussion. Primarily because I miss my chums and want to see familiar faces. I physically miss seeing the friends I’ve made through the group, including Barbara, Margaret, the two Alistairs, Muriel & Eric, David & Isobel. It feels like a lifetime ago that we were all together in Pencaitland bowling club at the Tea Party I pulled together and the music night. Not only raising money for Scotland’s Net Cancer Charity but promoting awareness of the cancer and making new friends. Pre Covid we would meet up physically these meetings would be called Net Natter Meetings. Things have to change slightly for now and technology is fabulous letting us all join in and natter together.
It may seem strange that someone like myself with a gastrostomy tube attends a nutrition chat. However, I found it great. Tara mentioned one of the most bothersome symptom; diarrhea. We discussed this. Spoke about flushing. Also pellagra. We discussed taking supplements such as creon and vitamin B. All in all it was very informative and helpful. I’m sure everyone got a lot out of it.
As the covid vaccine has been rolled out and the restrictions are getting lifted I hope we will be meeting up soon and we can start to have regular Net Natter Meetings again.
Since the day my consultant told me I had to give up driving my online shopping has increased tenfold. I purchase my weekly grocery shop online. The Sainsbury’s van could drive its way to our cottage on its own I’m sure. I have to admit I purchase nearly everything online, and from everywhere. I was so happy when I found out I was able to shop and give to charity without costing me a penny.
As most of my regular blog readers know I regularly attend Net natter support meetings with The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust. (TAECT) Scotland’s Neuroendocrine Cancer Charity. They are an invaluable support network as well as offer information days and zoom meetings. I got an email from TAECT letting me know that they had registered with Amazon Smile and Give as You Live.
So me being me, an avid online shopper and a huge supporter of TAECT started going onto Amazon Smile rather than my regular Amazon. I shop on Amazon frequently. I am an Amazon Prime customer and purchase several items per week. So thought it best to support the Charity. All I do is make a purchase as normal, pay the price like usual. The charity gets 0.5% of the sales every time I shop at no cost to me.
I then decided to register for Give a you live, its so simple. Register for free, and then shop online to different retailers. The retailer donates a percentage of sales to the charity. Its that simple. Companies that participate include, John Lewis, B & Q, Dunelm, H & M, Argos, Marks & Spencers, Pets at Home, Screwfix, Ebay, plus many many more. In only one week, I have shopped in John Lewis, Dunelm and Boden. £7.71 has been donated to charity without costing me any extra money.
Both schemes are a wonderful way to donate money to charity, there are a great deal of charities to choose from and many on your doorstep. All without leaving your arm chair and only for the cost of. the goods. Its a win win situation.
You can have a look at smile Amazon here. And Give as you live here. I’m sure you will agree they are both fabulous ways to help the income of charities.
So the next time you are going on Amazon to shop, instead of the regular Amazon, go on Amazon Smile. Register a charity and donate 0.5% every time you shop. If you are buying a gift for someone, treating yourself to something, getting a much needed product for the house, go through give as you live and donate a percentage to charity. It really is that simple and no extra cost to you at all.
As I have grown older I have came to realise that there aren’t many guarantees in life. The only certainties in life are birth,death and change. We are born, changes take place and we die. To make things more pleasant all round and something we take for granted in the United Kingdom is that we will always have somewhere to go when we are sick. Get taken care of free of charge and when the inevitable happens are granted A comfortable place to die.
When a person is faced with a terminal illness, at some point thoughts come racing in to the mind where do you want to spend the last days. People’s answers are very personal ones. For some being at home and spending every last possible moment being cared for in the family home is their wish. Others prefer to be cared for in a hospice or hospital environment. Either way, the experience I have witnessed personally the care given has always been outstanding. The nursing staff making sure in the last weeks, days and right down to moments comfort is paramount.
There is no getting away from it making a choice where you want to end your days is far from easy. There is an awful lot to consider. However even when all the pros and cons are weighed up and it’s been decided home, hospital or hospice sometimes it just doesn’t go as smooth as you would expect.
We may choose to stay at home and be cared for by your loved ones and supported by district nursing team. Most of the time it goes well and you get your wish and you can stay at home. The district nurse team and Marie curie nurses that cared for my Father in his home gave him a caring, dignified last few days. For that we cannot thank the wonderful medical team enough and will forever be in their debt. Home nursing teams work very hard looking after the patient, ordering drugs, equipment, supplies, communicating with other health professionals. We are lucky to have such good staff working on the NHS, providing us with with amazing service. They are dedicated, take care of the patient and make sure the family are coping too. At present I have the most amazing team of District Nurses that come in to my home and give me injections, service my stoma/gastrostomy tube, change dressings, etc. They also look out for my nearest and dearest.
However for some there can be a time that everything is all set up and there is a spanner in the works and you need shipped off to hospital and you no longer get the home care you so wished for. In a snap decision one of most difficult decisions of your life has been literally taken out of your hands. What we have to remember is things happen for a reason and getting sent into hospital is most likely with best intentions.
When we make a decision to end our days in a hospice it’s a choice that certainly does not come lightly. Whilst you get fabulous care and are in a safe and secure environment, it’s not home. Although hospices have a much less clinical feel than hospitals you can’t quite move your pet in. The biggest problem at the moment is the waiting time to go in. Main reason being there just isn’t enough palliative care beds to go around. It’s heartbreaking but the practicality is that we are actually waiting on someone passing away to then offer a bed. In the UK we get used to getting our health care and this includes all our cancer treatments free of charge. All us human beans in UK take our health care for granted; go to the doctor and don’t think about the cost. Many people think more about putting money away vet bills for our pets or saving for a holiday than donating to a charity.
Hospices, such as Marie Cure and St Columba’s, home care nursing from Marie Curie and Macmillian are not NHS or big private hospitals, they are self financing. They are charities. Rely on donations and fundraising. They offer their services free to patients who need them, at times it may be respite care where a patient goes in for a few days then goes home, or the nurses go to a patient’s home and takes care of them; gives the family help with washing the patient, changing pyjamas, changing sheets, etc, and patient staying in hospice for life end care.
On thinking about the charities, I believe we need to try and chip in a tad if we can. Next time you are eating that McDonald’s and you are about to have a Mcflurry with it; what’s the cost for the ice cream? Couple of quid? Perhaps think about matching the couple of pounds in a donation, I definitely will.
I’m in my mid fifties and have known people very dear to me that have died by their own choosing at home, in hospital and in a hospice. All very well cared for, and I can see the benefits and down sides of all. For the person that is going to meet his Maker and for those that are left behind. Me? If I mange to get my wish I will not be at home and I will not be a burden on anyone. Let’s hope this works out.
For Me November has always been a fairly memorable month. I have a brother with a birthday at the beginning of the month and a sister with a birthday at the end of the month. The last day of the November we celebrate the Patron of our country – St Andrews Day. Guy Fawkes night; 5th November is a special night on our calendar – Steve and I got engaged in 1984, what a wonderful night that was. Fireworks at my parents and then a trip to Edinburgh with Steve and some university friends.
All of these dates are still in the diary, special to me, with some others added. And now there is one anniversary date that is noted worldwide. The date is November 10th every year. Its NET Cancer Day. Aiming at promoting awareness. Folks all over the world raise awareness in different ways.
Me personally, I have organised, with the help of friends, a tea party and a music night. Both events were on the weekend of the NET Cancer Day and raised money for The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust. Three years ago I did some something myself, just simply smiled every day for 21 days and asked folks to donate something, even if it was a penny. My consultant, Prof Mark Strachan, the fantastic late Linda Story and myself did a radio interview, fairly lengthy – raising awareness two years ago. Many people have coffee days – lets talk about nets.
This year, 2019 – November 2019 is a Sunday and I’m looking forward to going to The NET Forum organised by The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust in Edinburgh. There will be talks on offer from Net Specialists; Consultant, oncologist, Net Nurse. Charity Trustees. Information will include PRRT Information, Patient and Carer Support, whats New in Nets?, Relaxation.
Forums allow others to get together, whether its other patients, their family or friends, health professionals and people generally interested in finding out about NET Cancer. You get a chance to ask questions about symptoms, treatments, etc, and meet other people with the same rare condition. Its absolutely wonderful that health professionals are willing to give up their Sunday to share this time with us folks that want to go to the forum. Its great to see passion in the doctors and nurses outside the hospital. It makes me very proud and confident in our NHS.
For anyone thats interested in finding out more about The Ann Edgar Trust. You can look them up, at http://www.taect.scot They really are a good support network, our monthly net natter meet ups, chat on facebook. And at times we get together and do something together outwith the meeting. It really does help turn that frown upside down.
friendship mean to you? How do you define a good friend? I guess we would all have different answers. What’s important to me does not necessarily sit high in the rankings for you. We also have friends and ‘friends’. There are those that will be by our side for the rest of our days and there are work chums, social meet up buddies etc. There are friends we will never meet in person; social media hook ups, pen pals. We can build up great relationships and share common ground, learn all about their country, etc. The support that can be gained from a friend that you will never meet in person can be invaluable. The fellow patients and carers/friends/family that I have met through the support network charity The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust has been just fantastic. We meet , talk about all sorts, support each other and friendships have developed. To be honest I never thought I was one for sitting in a room full of sick folk, that want to chat about their condition, but actually making the effort to go out on a chilly evening, have a blether and a cuppa and most of the time a jolly good laugh. I usually always go home in a much better frame of mind and feeling a whole lot better than when I woke up that morning.
For those of you that have read my blog you will know that family is the most important thing in my life. I’m the youngest of five. The closest to me is Hazel with a 6 year age gap. The other 4 are closer tother in age. Mum and I developed a great friendship, from a young age she took great interest in activities at school etc. I remember running home from school eager to tell her all about my day. Mum and I spoke every day, even when I got married. Perhaps it was just a short phone call, but the blether would take place non the less. Mum died 5 years ago there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and miss that conversation.
I have talked in previous blog posts about friends. As someone who can no longer drive and with numerous problems such as fatigue, hypos, pain, etc. Friendship is extremely important. Now as adults, I’m no longer that kid hanging on to my sister Hazel’s skirt and we are great pals with wonderful support. Support and help has came in different ways from different ways . Two friends that I value, really care about and have been particularly helpful over the last year are Sally and Louise. My husband, Steve, is the best friend you could ask for. We spend a lot of time together and never seem to tire of each others company.
There is a pal that I haven’t spoken about in my blogs. On leaving high school I decided to go to university in Edinburgh. on my first day I met this quiet country girl from Callendar. We hit it off instantly. At the end of year one I decided to leave auld reekie and study in the city of discovery, Dundee. This in no way hampered our friendship, we remained friends through studying in different cities, marriage, the birth of both of us having our sons. Both of us are god mother to our first born. Tony now 30 and Scott in his 20’s, my how time has flown. Jennifer was sitting on my sofa a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon chatting away with Steve and I. Just the three of us, it could have been 34 years ago, with the exception of some of the conversation subjects. Amongst other things, We had the 4 lads to talk about, Tony, Stuart, Scott and Cameron. Over the years Jen has been a great loyal friend. Someone I can trust, share a problem or a secret with. In the early 1990’s when I needed breast surgery, Jennifer came early in the morning to give me a lift to the hospital, physical and emotional support before the op, just what a pal needs. While my poor hubby was rushing around with two youngsters. When Steve was getting his radiotherapy a trip to the country club for one week was organised by Jennifer, really appreciated it. Since this diagnosis, Jen has been a great pal; known her place. Text enough, but not too much. Visited when I’ve been ‘ill’ in hospital. visited us at home but kept away when she thought we need space. You know your pal is your pal when you don’t feel you have to put on a face, or tidy up for them visiting. You aren’t embarrassed if you can’t afford the bill and you can tell them. We are made of similar cloth and I’m definitely not afraid to say anything in front of Jennifer. Still a pal after all these years. Thanks.
For most people the 10th of the month won’t mean very much. But for us folks lucky enough to be involved with The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust (TAECT) up here in Edinburgh we have chosen to have our Net Natter get togethers on the 10th of the month. The meetings don’t only take place in Edinburgh, amongst other places folk get together in Aberdeen and Glasgow.
NET Natter Meetings are informal support meetings which offer an opportunity to meet with others in the (reasonably) local area who are affected by Neuroendocrine tumours and carcinoid syndrome – patients, carers, friends and family.
I’m particularly looking forward to going to this support group today. Since I haven’t seen most of my chums from the group since I organised the music event to raise money for the charity in November. Its these guys that understand how I feel at times, take time to listen. Don’t get me wrong not that other friends and family don’t offer love, support and give great advice at times , but the mutual understanding of fellow ‘netters’ is rather unique.
Since I have been involved with TAECT I’ve had a fairly bumpy ride; in and out of hospital. The usual scans and blood tests. Trips to The Royal Free Hospital in London. Nasal Gastric tube insertion. Gastrostomy tube insertion. Sepsis, with ten week stay in hospital. During all this, amongst other things, the guys I’ve met at the meetings have messaged and telephoned me to see how I am. Visited me at home. Visited me in hospital. Helped me organise the successful tea party. And much more…….
Since November our life has been pretty hectic. My hubby, Steve, who always supports me, is by my side regardless. Has had 5 operations on his eye to try save the sight. Steve has had a detached retina. It has been problematic and not gone the way it should. Here we are in April five operations later and hoping that he will only need to wait another 8 weeks and then get one more surgery.
Needless to say we have found life fairly difficult. After surgery Steve is restricted in driving, after one week as long as he doesn’t get double vision and he can pass the vision test he can drive. This helps a great deal, both physically and emotionally.
Tomorrow morning I have Evelyn my nurse coming to the house to change my dressings and service my peg feed. It will be so good to say to her that we have been to the Net Natter meeting.
When a patient with carcinoid syndrome, Ann Edgar and Endocrine Consultant, Professor Park Strachan, got their heads together a very much needed charity was set up in Scotland: The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust.
The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust (TAECT) is Scotland’s only dedicated charity to help and support those affected with neuroendocrine cancer and tumours and carcinoid syndrome. It’s other main aims are to educate and promote awareness.
The South east of Scotland already has a wonderful support network set up. We regularly meet on the 10th of each month. We try to have a variety of meetings to cater for all walks of life and age. Sometimes it’s lunch at Lauriston Farm, or a quiet drink at a bar in Edinburgh. We have all met at a fellow patients house for afternoon tea and enjoyed lovely sandwiches and cakes. June is a craft fair with home baking to which general public can attend, and July we are going to a garden party at Barbara and Alister’s house. Looking forward to the home baking and beautiful gardens as well as seeing the lovely friends I have made. It’s certainly not doom and gloom, the room is always filled with laughter.
Steve and I attend the meetings regularly and look forward to going to them. We have genuinely made some lovely friends. It’s good to be able to say you actually enjoy the company of the others, I have missed some due to being in hospital with this damn infection. I can honestly say there isn’t anyone that wallows in self pity or looks for sympathy. We are a mixed bunch with lots of stories to tell. There is always someone willing to offer some advice without being pretentious.
Yesterday 26 May 2016 a brand new website was launched. And I think it looks pretty cool. All comments are welcome.
You can see the website at http://www.taect.scot
Please have a surf, the site has useful information and I would love to know what you think of it.