The term Global War on Terrorism was first coined by US President George W Bush in late September 2001. In summary it was a call to hunt out and destroy terrorism wherever it could be found. That war continues today. However, I was interested last week to hear US President Barack Obama demand that the world take action against the “cancer” of jihadist extremism. Ronald Reagan is also reported to have used the ‘cancer’ metaphor in relation to terrorism back in the eighties. It would appear that ‘terrorism’ and ‘cancer’ are bound together to some extent, well at least until one of them is defeated.
Science and medicine writers are frequent users of ‘war’ metaphors in the battle against cancer (see, I could not complete the sentence without reference to a ‘war’ word!). Some people actually disagree with the use of military language within cancer articles and presentations. They suggest the words are used in an attempt to help patients but can actually have the opposite effect. I disagree with this view, I think military language is ideal for use in this fight – see, I did it again 🙂
However, there is another global war ongoing against the very metaphor used by successive US presidents to categorise terrorism. In fact there is some research to suggest that this war began in 1971 with the signing of the National Cancer Act (Richard Nixon). Although a legislative act for the US, other nations would have taken note and reviewed their own policies and commitment. Despite growing and ageing populations, you can see from available statistics that the fight against cancer is being won. However, certain cancers still lag behind.
As you can see from my blog statistics below (please take a look!), Neuroendocrine Cancer does not appear to be unique to a single country or continent, it’s very much a global issue (or at least there are people in those countries interested in my blog!). The incidence is fairly similar across the globe from the statistics available – anything between 2 – 6 cases per 100,000 of the population – i.e. its rare!
The International Neuroendocrine Cancer Alliance (INCA) is the global advocate for neuroendocrine cancer patients. Online, they appear to operate under the cover of NET Cancer Day http://netcancerday.org/ They are also on Facebook and Twitter. Every year on NET Cancer day (10 Nov), their voice gets louder in support of Neuroendocrine patients. I won’t repeat any more detail here as it would be good if you would take some time out to look at their website and join them in support of the Global War on NET Cancer.
Make a note in your calendar for 10 Nov – I’ll be at home having a ‘coffee and cake’ morning and I might even invite some of you who are reading this! However, don’t forget your wallets and purses as every penny helps with the ‘fight’ 🙂
I think I first met Gym at school in the sixties – we normally met on a weekly basis. We were reacquainted when I joined the army and hooked up more frequently! It was there I met some of Gym’s friends, known as PTIs (Physical Training Instructors). Their opening line was normally “Ten times round my large bronze chest…… GO! ” and then we would proceed with the ‘beasting’. I suspect I might now be prodded by the PTIs on my facebook page – there are one or two out there 🙂
I’ve always been a fairly fit guy but over time my fitness had faded. I’m to blame entirely for this but I suppose it hasn’t been helped by a diagnosis of metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer. However, I’m now turning this negative into a number of positives and getting fitter is one of them! One aspect of my recent Hadrian’s Wall walk was to see how I’d cope with a major physical and mental challenge. Walking was chosen as a low risk activity although it turned out to be quite tough!
At 58 years of age, I clearly won’t be making the GB 2016 Olympic team but my aim is to become fitter than the average 58 year old (perhaps 59 by the time I meet this objective…..). I started nice and slow today mainly the walking machine as a warm up and then straight onto a number of upper body exercises. I stopped or rested when I felt pain – didn’t want to overdo it at this early stage. I’ll keep building up my upper body strength on the machines but in a week or two, I’ll move onto running and the concept rowers for stamina.
My shoulders and arms are hurting from the gym work – that is an excellent sign 🙂
Geekie Gabble – reintroduced by special request from medical geeks!
I just completed my Chromogranin A (CgA) and 5HIAA tests this morning and then went straight to the gym! I undergo many tests but these ones are pretty important as they measure residual tumour bulk and activity. Other than signs of tumour growth showing on scans, they would be used to decide whether further treatment is required or not. I repeat these tests every 4 months currently.
The CgA blood test is an excellent marker to help detect and monitor the activity of Neuroendocrine tumors in general. CgA is a protein found in carcinoid tumor cells, and it’s normally secreted into the blood. Elevated levels of CgA are found in 80-100% of patients with Neuroendocrine tumors. When I was diagnosed, my test results were way out.
5HIAA is a 24 hour urine test using a 2 liter sample bottle! Those of you who have been paying attention to my blogs will know that Neurondocrine tumours can release excessive amounts of particular hormones especially Serotonin. When serotonin breaks down in the body, it is converted first to something known as 5-HT and then to 5-HIAA, which is then excreted into the urine. This gives the medical team an idea of how active the tumours are.
Both of these tests have been normal for the last 3 years with one exception where an elevated CgA for 2 consecutive tests became a factor in a decision to tackle some distant lymph node hotspots (one of which is still work in progress).
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I recently blogged about my boxing experience in post: http://wp.me/p4AplF-r7 In those days I was just a wee skinny 16 year old guy! I think I was in the Bantamweight category, somewhere between 8 and 9 stone (50 – 57 kg). Although I gained some weight after years of service in the military, I didn’t really ‘bulk out’ in the wrong places until I left the military aged 45. Even then it wasn’t what you would call overweight or obese. I joined a gym, determined to maintain some form of fitness. I sacked it due to pressures of work but then joined a few years later for another go. However, work and associated commuting took over again and I withdrew once more. In those days, I didn’t really weigh myself and relied on looking in the mirror as a guide :-)
I always remember weighing myself at the gym though and was consistently around 12 stone (76 kg). Wow that’s ‘Super middleweight’! I therefore assumed this was now my normal weight and thought nothing more of it. However, in 2010, at a routine GP sponsored Asthma clinic, a discussion about my weight sparked off a chain of events leading to a diagnosis of Neuroendocrine Cancer, A really, really innocuous discussion (or at least it was to me) about why I’d gone down from 12 stone to 11½ stone. You can read more details about this here: http://wp.me/p4AplF-1W and here: http://wp.me/p4AplF-bY.
After 4 years of treatment I’m now down to 10 stone (63.5 kg). My weight dipped to 10½ stone following two major bouts of surgery but I put it back on during recuperation. I did eventually get back to 11½ stone but in the last 12 months, my weight has now gone down to 10 stone – a 15% reduction from pre-diagnosis! This drop in weight is significantly greater than the one which led to my diagnosis. However, this was mostly controlled through minor changes to diet and exercise and puts me right in the middle of the green zone on the BMI chart! Additionally, my waist size has reduced from 34″ to 30″ since diagnosis. I haven’t had a 30″ waist for well over 30 years – cost me a packet in new trousers 🙂 All of that said, when I now look in the mirror, I do see that wee skinny lad from Dundee (as do others….)
So – am I now at my ‘fighting weight’? Probably but other weaknesses are potentially a hinderance! I’m not currently very strong physically and whilst I’m conscious of my increasing age, I do seem to generate aches, pains and minor injuries far too easily. The slightest bit of ‘garden football’ or manual labour inside or outside the house, seems to hurt more than it should. Walking isn’t a problem, I can walk for miles – see post: http://wp.me/p4AplF-iw – I’ve always had good legs! Plus much of that is in the mind and I’ve always been strong willed. In short I have no physical upper body strength and that is where my focus is now moving. My consultant has recommended the gym and armed with a GP referral, I start next week! My initial aims are to bulk up my upper body and to progress from walking to running to increase my stamina.
Watch this space!
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Apparently all Scotsmen wear kilts, have ginger hair, eat nothing but deep fried Mars Bars and they like a good fight!
Stereotyping is frequently used to wind people up and can on occasion be used in an irrational or insulting manner. However, I believe one of those attributes is accurate. I was once ‘volunteered’ for boxing because my home town was Dundee! Read on…
Dundee was put on the boxing map in the late fifties and in the early sixties due to the legendary Dick McTaggart who won a Gold and Bronze medal in two separate Olympic Games (for Great Britain). Many new boxing clubs sprang up in Dundee over this period and you can see the evidence of his legacy today. It’s also timely for this blog that Dundee erected a statue of him just a few months ago.
I left school aged 16 joining the Army as a Junior entrant and trained at Junior Tradesmen’s Regiment near Troon in Ayrshire Scotland, spookily where Dick McTaggart now lives! Once basic training was done and dusted, everybody had to be assigned a hobby. I didn’t really have something I was very good at, so my choice was made for me. According to my Sergeant, I was ‘allocated’ to the boxing squad because my home town was Dundee and therefore I must be a good fighter! As this was announced in public, my feathers bristled with the increased ‘street cred’ 🙂
Winning my first fight was probably a mistake – although as it was an ‘Inter-Company’ competition the celebrity factor was good 🙂 There were 3 x 1 minute rounds where me and my opponent (who had a much longer reach!) just swung our arms non stop hoping for contact and I won on points. The second and third fights were a blur and I lost both on points. I remember being knocked out in training and had to spend the night in the Medical Centre under observation. Interestingly, the knockout blow came from the fist of the guy who I beat in my first fight! The fourth fight was against a seasoned civilian and I lasted into the second round when the referee stopped the fight on the basis my opponent was ‘too strong’. As I had some memory issues after that fight, my sergeant decided to allocate me to the much safer hobby of ‘Rock Climbing’ 🙂
So the stereotyping backfired. The closest I’d been to fighting in Dundee was chucking a dustbin at someone up an alley down town and then beating a hasty retreat to a safe spot with other ‘friendlies’. That said, I did put 150% into the boxing training and became extremely fit. I never personally conceded any of my 4 fights – I won one, lost two on points and the fourth and final one was stopped by the referee – not my decision!
I’m fairly certain that my 18 month junior soldier experience increased my confidence and I started to realise I was not one to give up easily. That trait has remained with me throughout my life with words such as determined, tenacious, stubborn, strong-willed, forceful and direct having been used over the years to describe it. I took this trait into my second career as an ‘ex military’ person working with ‘civilians’. I remember numerous occasions when I had not been well but still turned up for work much to the annoyance of others. Once when it was suggested that I should go home and rest up, I replied that the only way I would be leaving the office against my wishes was on a stretcher. They laughed but I was deadly serious.
I suspect I’ve mellowed over the years as most people tend to do when they get older. However, this trait of mine has been quite handy in the past 4 years for fighting Neuroendocrine Cancer. I’m winning on points so far 🙂
Stay positive all!
p.s. I don’t own a kilt, I don’t have ginger hair and I’ve never eaten a deep fried Mars Bar 🙂
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