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Cathy T, Pituitary Bio

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Hi! My name is Cathy Tia. I’m 27 yrs old and was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease 6 yrs ago while doing my first year of an education degree. I had worked in the fitness industry at that stage for 5 years and was fit and healthy but as soon as I started to fall asleep at the wheel driving into varity. I thought something was wrong symptoms persisted and weight gain fatigue, sweats, acne no periods. The list goes on, started to get out of control.

I went to a endo and she did some tests on my bloods and was shocked that my cortisol levels were in the thousands then we did some 24hr urine tests and they were as high as 3000. After nothing showed up on the MRI scan we did the petrosal sampling and it showed the source from coming from my pituitary gland so I then went to hospital for them to have a look at my pituitary gland they saw no visible tumour and that was that I then was put on a course of drugs as I kept going into adrenal failure where my cortisol levels were as low as minus 10 so no wonder I was in agony and feeling like I was going mentally insane. My weight dropped to 48kgs at the time of low cortisol, then my body changed again weighing in at 70’ish kgs.

I started to get heart palpitations and was exercising so much I nearly dropped dead but nothing I did seemed to help the weigh loss. My cortisol was tested again and again it was high, I went on a block regime to mimic what it would be like to have no adrenals before the trauma of the surgery well as I expected they didn’t bring down the cortisol in fact it increased. I went off all drugs as they made me feel so sick and I couldn’t even hold a job because of no energy etc.

Now 2 yrs later it is back with a vengeance and again there was talk of removing my adrenal glands but I refuse as the pills didn’t work so why would the surgery again? I said I would try the drugs. I have been on them 4 months and my levels which are meant to decrease have gone from 284 this week to 1225. My endo is at her wits end I’m going back to the hospital on Wed but I feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel as I feel we have exhausted all my options.

I’m newly married only 9 months ago I have the most supportive wonderful husband but feel bad for him as we can’t conceive and do normal things young married couple do as I’m always tired and hate going anywhere because of my appearance. If anyone has any answers out there or just words of support I would love to hear from you.

cheers, Cathy ‘mad’ Tia ( at least I feel mad)!!!!!!!!!!

Update Monday June 30, 2003:

Hi. Well, I have had more tests and yes they confirm that my Cushing’s disease is pituitary based, I had an MRI scan last night so we will wait and see if there is any visible change from the one I had done 4 years ago, then from there surgery.

I am gaining more weight and my skin is full of acne even though I’m on an antibiotic and the pill to help it, My periods have stopped even though I’m on the pill and the hair on my face and body is really embarrassing. I have totally lost confidence in myself and any situation I feel is stressful even paying the bills is an effort.

My diet is still very strict only protein and I try and walk and do weights everyday but I feel I’m losing the battle. I hate the waiting for results I just want them to hurry up so I know what my options are start them and get on with life!!!!!!

Frustrated Cathy ‘mad’ Tia (at least I feel mad).

Update Wednesday July 9, 2003:

As you all know I went for an MRI scan last Monday and the Monday just gone I recieved the news I had a 7mm tumour on the left side of my pituitary gland which means removal of that left side, I’m relieved after 6 years of cyclical Cushing’s there is something to show for it at the same time I’m terrified not only about the surgery but all the after effects the drugs the quality of life after this terrible disease!!!!!,

My husband and I are have amazing faith and support from family and friends but it is still such a roller coaster ride we are only 27 years old and have been married for 10 months we don’t know if we will ever have children which is so important for us. We don’t know where life will take us but we do and have accepted this is for a reason god works in mysterious ways so please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we do for all you fellow Cushing’s patients out there what ever the stage of disease you are at, never ever give up be strong.

cheers, Cathy Tia from little old New Zealand.

Update August 3, 2003:

Hi everyone well it is now the 3rd of August 2003 and I am going to the hospital on Tuesday here in little old New Zealand, to have a meeting with the brain surgeon to go through the procedure. They have found a pit tumor on the left side of my gland and need to remove the whole side. Wow, pretty scary but at least I’ll feel better after 6 yrs of not such great health.

I’m excited about my future and hopefully my husband and I can start our lifes together with children in the future, I’ll write on Tuesday night to tell of my surgery date, if I get one.

Keep the faith, everyone. There is always hope we are the strong ones what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger! Feel free to email me on cathyscurves@hotmail.com.

Update August 22, 2003:

Hi everyone well I haven’t written in a while as you know the hospital systems are slow at getting things moving. As you know a tumour was found on the last MRI but now they think there is more to it so Monday 24th August, tomorrow, I’m going for another CT scan then surgery although I don’t have a date for surgery. I’m hoping it will be in the next month because I want to be out of hospital to share my 1st year wedding anniversary with my wonderful husband my angel here on earth at home not in hospital. I’ll keep you all updated this week for the next chapter.

Hang in there everyone. Remember, if we all stick together and send love through our thoughts we will beat this thing!!! please email me anyone if you want to talk I know I’m down here in little old New Zealand but don’t hesitate.

Update September 15, 2003:

Hi everyone it’s Cathy here agin from little old New Zeland, I finally have a surgery date it is on the 15th of October one month away it’s been a long wait but now I know the date I can plan my life!!!! I should be fighting fit for xmas day that was my goal so My husband and I can plan a holiday a family and get back into full time work. I’m so excited.

Hang in there everyone and please send your prayers and happy vibes my way on the 15th
cheers Cathy ‘mad’ Tia

Update October 10, 2003:

Hi everyone. Well, only 4 more sleeps to go until my 2nd pit surgery. Let’s hope they get the bugger this time. I’ll update you all as soon as I can focus on the computer screen
cheers Cathy

Update October 27, 2003:

Hi everyone! Well, it’s 2 weeks tomorrow post op. I’ve been home 1 week and recovering well, things went to plan as you all know the discomfort only last 3-4 days and my cortisol is dropping which is so positive. We will know for sure in a month. I’m hoping it comes down and stays down so we know I’ve been cured. I’ve already lost 2kg’s and the high colour in my face has gone down my joints are not as sore and my acne is clearing up. I can’t believe in 2 weeks. I’m already looking better. I ask you all to keep praying and sending happy healthy thoughts and vibes my way as you all know this is just the beginning as it is such a reecurrent disease. I really want to avoid having my adrenals out which they will do asap if my cortisol doesn’t stay down. They say this is the only way for sure to cure Cushing’s disease.

But I send hugs and kisses to you all and anyone whos going to have pitaitary surgery either for the 1st time or 2nd don’t worry just relax and go with it rest and recover as much as possible then get your life back please feel free to write to me my email is in this bio.
cheers Cathy ‘Mad’ Tia

Update November 26, 2003:

Hi all, well it is 6 weeks today since my second pituitary surgery, I developed diabetes insipidous but that has gone now hooray no more peeing every 2 minutes, ha, ha.

Well the last 2 blood cortisols were high again so I’m really bummed out the first 3 weeks after surgery it seemed to be on the way down and I lost 5 kg’s I was elated, but now the symptoms have returned the tiredness puffiness etc and I’m not even on any replacements I haven’t had a period so it looks like the adrenals will have to be removed bummer!, I have just completed a 24hr urine collection so the results should be in early next week everything hinges on this result if it is high they are taking me straight back in for the double adrenalectomy if anyone has any suggestions or has had the same experience please email me I feel depressed again just as I thought I had my life back on track.
kind regards Cathy ‘Mad’ Tia

Update December 4, 2003:

Hi everyone me again, well unfortunatley my cortisol is high again after 6 weeks post op so I am booked in to see another surgeon next Wednesday to talk through the procedure of a bilateraladrenelectomy (what a mouthfull), could anyone who has had this done please email me as I’m terrified and want to know what to expect in regards to recovery time, sickness, etc

keep your chins up

talk to you when I have more gossip
Cathy ‘Mad’ Tia

Update January 29, 2004:

Hi all well happy new year to you all. I have a CT scan date on Feb 16th of my adrenal glands then surgery will follow hopefully soon after that I’m scared and would love to hear from others who have had their adrenals out because I’ve heard some horror stories, please email me.

I have had an interview with a local magazine that goes out to the nation telling my story and journey with Cushings disease it was fun my husband and I have had photos etc I will post it when it comes out next week I just want others to be more knowledglable and perhaps people may come forward and talk to me if they suspect they may have it.

I would love to set up a support group in New Zealand because there is no one I can talk to here.

Well I’ll talk to you all soon and please email me if you have any words of encourgement.
God bless Cathy ‘Mad’ Tia

Update February 3, 2004:

Hi all! Well, I have more exciting news from the magazine article that has only been out two days. I have been asked to go on a morning talk show televised across New Zealand to talk about the disease and my story and have already recieved emails from others in NZ that have been cured. It is so positive it makes me want to get on and move forward to help others when I’m finally cured hooray! I’ll update soon when I’ve been on TV.

God is good god bless you all Cathy ‘Mad’ Tia

Update March 30, 2004:

Hi guys. Well I finally have a date for my adrenal surgery. 2 failed pit surgeries so here is their last ditch attempt to cure me hooray!

It is scheduled for the 15th of April 2 weeks time so I’ll get back to you as soon  as I’m up to it, please pray for me as this is the final time hopefully then I’ll be rid of this nasty disease.  I would love you guys to email me whoever has had the adrenals removed to tell me the good and bad things during recovery so I’m prepared.
cheers everyone and hang in there.

hugs cathy ‘mad’ tia

Update April 29, 2004:

Hi everyone. I’m back it’s 2 weeks today since my surgery the removal of both adrenal glands. I feel I’ve been to hell and back over the last 7 years but I’ve come out on top I’m sore and bruised but feeling the best mentally and emotionally the best in almost a decade. I’m on a normal dose of hydrocortisone which understand the average person produces and have already seen marked changes in my appearance like redness had gone, night sweats aches nausea are all gone in only 2 weeks so I’m looking forward to getting my body back.

Thank you all for your support and I will keep you updated as to my situation. You all must hang in there and fight fight fight! Your day will come in those dark days of despair never give up tommorow is always better and you don’t want to let this disease win you can do it.

Update July 3, 2004:

Hi everyone well it’s been ages since I wrote I have had both adrenals out and finally I feel normal most of the Cushing’s symptoms have gone and the old Cathy is slowly emerging it is nearly 3 months since surgery and I have lost 9kgs and am looking not so tired and puffy hooray when people ask how I’ve lost the weight I say I’m on a cortisol diet which they laugh and don’t understand but I know you all do.

Well if any of you are scared to have this surgery don’t be they do it all keyhole so it’s neat and tide and it has changed my life I feel like a near normal 28 yr old who can restart her life my husband and I are so happy we have been given a 2 year gap to try for a family before radiation to the pit gland to avoid Nelson’s Syndrome so it’s not over yet but I believe it will be all worth it soon.

Well take care all hold your heads up high and be strong.

Update September 26, 2004:

Hi it’s Cathy Tia here again, well my husband and i have just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary cushing free hooray!! IT IS A BLESSING TO HAVE MY HEALTH BACK. It has been five months since my adrenal surgery and have had one adrenal crisis due to an underlying viris which was a bit scary i was in hospital for 5 days being pumped full of hydrocortisone ironic really after 8 yrs of having too much oh well, i’m back and working full 3 different jobs and loving life. All of you out theree still waiting to be cured please hang in there it is so worth it you will never take life for granted again.

God bless to you all and please never give up.

Update January 31, 2005:

hi all well a little update to my story. It has now been 9 months since i have my adrenal glands removed i have lost 27kg’s and people are starting to recognise me again all of the symptoms are gone i now have addisions disease as my adrenals can shut down the meds i take are cortisone and hydrocortisone to help with balancing my hormones out. I have had one adrenal crisis but recovered well. Peter my husband and i are on the fertility track now i am on fertility drugs to hopefully bring us a little bundle of joy this yr i also have PSCO so having a baby is a challenge but i know God will bless us when the time is right. I am working again like a normal person and can get through the day without a sleep.

Life is great. To all of you in the beginning, midst or end recovery phase of this terrible disease please always have hope and determination, remember you are what you believe so keep positive.

God Bless Cathy ‘mad’ Tia

Update January 31, 2006:

Hi all well it’s beena yr since I wrote. Alot has happened for my husband and I. Last time I wrote we were embarking on a huge rollercoaster ride with IVF fertility treatment and guess what we have had two cycles and the second one worked like a dream. We were given 15% chance of ever getting pregnant with the trteatment so we are proof that doctors only know so much with much gusto determination prayer and support from family and friends we did it we are now 3 and a half months pregnant due August 10th 2006. We feel so blessed and want to let you all know this can happen for you keep the faith and search inside yoiurself about what your life is worth this disease is only a label not who you are, seek and you will find the answers even if it has taken yrs it’s taken me 10yrs of being sick surgeries lost hope and regained faith. God has a plan for all of us and now I’m going to be a mum i can hardly believe the blessings.

I have had 2 trips to the emergency ward with adrenal crisis being pregnant does put stress on the body so now i have altered my drtugs i feel great i have only had 2 weeks of morning sickness and noew i have full energy back and only get tired like anyone at the end of a day. I ahd emergency surgery last week for an abcess caused by mastitis even though i haven’ breast feed they tink because my immunity is lowered by having no adreanl glands it wa so serious.

In my mind I know i always have to be careful but my advice to eveyone is live each day like it is your last be knind and never stop loveing or giving because it will come back in ten folds as it has for me.

God Bless and kind regards to all my fellow cushies, families and supporters.

Hugs cathy tia

Update October 25, 2006:

Hi cathy Tia here from New Zealand last time i was trying to concieve through IVF and we did it we have had a beautiful baby girl Grace Ruby weighing 6 pounds 13 ozes 3 weeks early all is grand with all of us healthy and loving being a family. Keep the faith and hope if you believe with your heart your dreams will come true.

cathy tia

Update February 22, 2007:

hi 22/2/07 cathy here agin

i now have another new 5mm tumour on the right side of pit gland due to having nelsons sydrome after nearly 3 yrs ago having boyth adrenals removed

any suggestions on what to do? they want to give me radation. has anyone had this?

cheers cathy

Update May 3, 2007:

hi all well my daughter is now 9 months old , I mde the decision to havea breast re3euction last week and am so thrilled with the results the 12 yrs of cuhsings and three yrs of addsions (removal of glands due to recureent cushings) ravished my body i feel young again and sexy hooray for my husband!!!

I had a very scary time this week though due to the stress of the surgery on my body my addisions played up big time and i ended up in Er twice having cortisol shots and saline to give me balance, i’m still very tannedyellow and can’t seem to get on top of the balance but feel better than last week.

Has anyody experience addisions after cuahings?, i’d love to hear from you and ask how you mmagae your balances of medications and water balance.

until next time,

Hugs feloow cushies/addisions

Cathy Tia

Update September 17, 2009:

hi all well its been a while my daughter is now 3 and i have a beautiful miracle son called Elijah who is now 6 months old , i ahve had a great run since having my adrenals removed and had the breast reduction i’,m even breast feeding a real miracle and testament that if you have hope you can achieve anything. i ahve had many talks to churches and articles written to educate people in New Zealand and hope to give them hope whatever their circumstances.

unfortunatly i may ahve developed nelsons syndrome so am having an MRI in 2 weeks to see what the pituatary tumour is doing if it has grown i’ll have radiation to shrink it.

hope this finds you all well.

God Bess Cathy Tia

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Marie C (MarieConleyHbg), Pituitary/ BLA Bio

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Marie Conley is a consultant focusing on engagement and stakeholder strategies and fund development for a variety of clients through her company Conley Consulting, LLC.

During her tenure in politics (1994-2009), Marie was a trusted advisor to top-level government officials and private sector organizations beginning in 1994 as the scheduler to Governor Tom Ridge. In 2009, as a senior level fundraiser, strategist and event planner, she made a successful transition from Pennsylvania’s highly competitive political landscape into the equally challenging field of non-profit development as director of Penn State Hershey’s Children’s Miracle Network. In 2012, her focus was working with Sue Paterno, wife the late Coach Joe Paterno, to assist with a number of initiatives around the issue of prevention and awareness of child sexual victimization focused in the arena of higher education. Marie continues with the national experts Stop It Now! on its Circle of Safety for Higher Education. ™

Marie never takes any professional or personal task at face value. She is always looking for ways to improve efficiencies, outcomes and most importantly calls upon herself and those around her to do the right thing for the right reasons. Her accomplishments in such a short period of time at Children’s Miracle Network are only one example.

Marie was unanimously granted Governor Emerita status by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education for her more than 13 years of service. Until she submitted her resignation in May 2016, Marie served as the Vice Chairman for the Board of Governor member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and was Chair of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee. She spearheaded significant changes in policy regarding the recruitment and hiring practices for university presidential and chancellor searches and has re-evaluated and changed the policy for university presidential evaluations. Marie was first nominated in 2002 and was re-appointed by Governor Ed Rendell in 2004 and re-appointed by Governor Tom Corbett in 2012. From 1997 to 2011, Marie served as a Council of Trustee for her alma mater, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. She played a critical role on the Board of Lincoln’s Footsteps commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. She continues to be a guest speaker and panelist on development and stakeholder engagement for a political and non-profit organizations.

But today Marie is facing her toughest battle yet. In 2012, Marie was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease – a disease so rare it affects less than ten people per million each year. She has fought through dozens of hospital stays and numerous surgeries – including brain surgery – and still struggles daily to run her successful consulting business and a household that includes a husband and young son.

There’s a reason former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge calls Marie “one of the most indefatigable people I’ve ever known.” Because while Marie drew the short straw in being one of those ten-in-a-million with Cushing’s, she has chosen not to simply live with the disease, but to use her skills honed in political campaigns to raise awareness and to fund critical research that will help those around the world who are living with this insidious disease. Already, The Conley Cushing’s Disease Fund has raised tens of thousands of dollars to fund research, to educate doctors on the signs of Cushing’s and to support her new book, A Cushing’s Collection.

Marie is not defined by Cushing’s. She is inspired by it to help others – and to leave a legacy of hope.
Marie hails from Bucks County, Pennsylvania; she lives in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania with her husband, Chris Lammando, and their son, Carter.


The author of A Cushing’s Collection: A Humorous Journey Surviving Cushing’s Disease, Diabetes Insipidus, and a Bilateral Adrenalectomy is a member of the Cushing’s Help message boards.

From Amazon:

Diagnosed with a rare disease that only affects between two and ten people per million, Marie Conley used emails to communicate with family, friends, and co-workers to keep them apprised of the diagnosis and prognosis of Cushing’s disease and the many complications she experienced on this journey. Her ironic humor and raw, emotional approach helps bring hope to those touched by this rare and unrelenting disease.

In her mid-thirties, Conley, who strived to keep herself healthy while maintaining the delicate balance of raising a young child, keeping a home, and a demanding career, began to experience a variety of unexplained maladies inconsistent with her life style.Because of the elusive nature of Cushing’s disease, the treatment is a long and complicated process of trial and error. At this time, there is no cure, largely due to the fact that Cushing’s disease is considered an “orphan disease.” As is her nature, she has decided to “adopt” this “orphan” and is doing everything she can to bring awareness to this disease.Conley’s tenacious spirit and determination would not allow this insidious disease to triumph over her life. Armed with her laptop as the only weapon available in the sterility of the recovery room, the author attacks the keyboard with a vengeance to let friends and family know that in this battle, there is no surrender.

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Aimee, Adrenal Bio

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I am the daughter of a Cushing’s patient who is workning on her BLA and switch. My mom is not always able to be on line, but is very interested in the networking that this site offers. So for right now I am the deligate and the Patient advocate whenever she is in the hospital.

Mom’s (Pat) history is complicated and lots of different turns have taken place. She was diagnosed very late into her case and has often had the worst of what can happen happen. A true trooper through it all but she is starting to really lose the desire to fight and yet more and more is happening. So I am hoping that the networking will help give her the little boost that she needs.

The brief run down: diagnosed Cushing’s, Pituitary surger (no tumor found), gama knife surger, chemical treatment, 4 – 5 years of sitting on the edge and then 4 years building back up to full blown Cushings.

Now she is have BLA in Feb. 08 and we are hoping to move forward. During the time between full blown she had 2 back fusions (1 did not take and will have to be redone) 2 knee replacements, and an assortment of other stuff. So as you can guess he poor body is worn out and ready for a rest.

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Jody (jodiann), Adrenal Bio

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Originally posted January 6, 2008

My mother had Cushing’s Syndrome with pheochromocytomas and had a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1968, but developed pneumonia post surgery and died after 3 months in intensive care.

I have thought that I was starting to develop symptoms and was even see in her endo Dr. for years, but I was always told I was being paranoid. Then in the past ten years I have gotten diabetes, the buffalo hump, put on 100 pounds, sore joints, hypertension, low potassium, high cholesterol etc.

I finally got a CT scan due to shortness of breath, and asthma, and they found bilateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia.

If it’s not Cushing’s Syndrome, then is there something else adrenal wise it could be? It sure seems like Cushing’s to me.

Update December 30, 2007

I was diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome approx. 3 years ago, after gaining over 100#s, developing diabetes, high blood pressure, fatigue,muscle weakness, moon face,buffalo hump,many tests later,it was discovered that I had bliateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia,and got the diagnoses finally,,,

my mom died from complications from a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1978,she had Cushing’s syndrome with pheochromocytomas,,so I watched her symptoms develope, and had felt sure that I was getting the same things, and finally it was confirmed,just a little difference in the diagnosis,,

however,I am having a terrible time getting any understandin, sympathy, or belief, from my oldest daughter and her husband. They believe,and tell me often, that all I need to do is diet,and exercise,and I would lose this weight,and look like I used to,,it is so depressing,frustrating,and hurtful,,,

the depression you get with the disease just adds to make me feel worse,,I’m taking an antodepressant, but they brought this up again at Christmas,due to me not wanting them to invite people that I hadn’t seen since before the big wt. gain,and appearance changes,,,I ended up crying most of the afternoon,,and it makes me feel like such a baby,,,,

I’m usually pretty good about not needing any body but myself for support,,but this just really has hurt me. I’m thinking of sending them pictures of patients with the disease that I’ve gotten on the internet,,although the son in law said he had done his own research and found that diet and exercise apparently was all that we needed to do,,,don’t know where he found that info from though,,,

Update January 6, 2008

CUSHING’S SYNDROME

I was finally diagnosed in approx. 2004,after I had developed diabetes,htn.,shortness of breath, IBS, high cholestero,major muscle aches,moon face, buffalo hump,and my hands and feet had actually gone up one ring,and shoe size and also had on-going depression, mood swings, anger issues,I could watch myself gain weight.

I joined curves,went every night after work, and still gained weight,,even after exercise for those three months I never did seem to regain any muscle strength or ability,,I still had trouble getting up from chairs,or walking any distance, unless I was pushing a grocery cart, or a stroller,,,I had trouble even carrying my groceries in from the car,i would be so out of breath,,I had to get a disabled parking sticker so I could get into work,,,as I was so out of breath if I parked in the lot across the street it would take me three stops for breath each day to make it in,,,and tired, I was so tired,,my favorite past time was sleeping,,I could sleep any time, and still be tired.

My mom had died from complications from a bilateral adrenalectomy due to Cushing’s Syndrome in 1978, and I had watched all of the changes she and her body had gone through,and felt sure that I had developed the same things, but I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me,,,until a unrelated chain of events lead to me getting a U/S of my chest, and a sugested follow up,which I got on a larger scale which showed something wrong with my adrenal glands, then an MRI of them revealed bilateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia,,,and finally I got hooked up with a good endocrinologist,,am now getting better follow-up of my diabetes and am on ketaconazole to suppress the cortisol production,,which has helped somewhat,and is stopping the excess cortisol,and no more weight gain,,,but hasn’t gotten rid of any of the symptoms either.

There are a lot of times that I look in the mirror and wonder where I am, or where the real me went to,,I don’t look like the me that I used to be at all,I have gained over 100lbs.in the past 13 years,,,and the fight against the depression, the muscle aches and pain, and fatigue every day or so exhausting,,my Doctor doesn’t want me to get the adrenalectomy due to the loss of all steroids,and how difficult it is to regulate them after the surgery. He also told me that you lose you fight or flight response because you don’t have any natural adrenaline,so your reaction time is not very good,,,,,and I have three grandkids that I drive iwth and take places,and I am a nurse and have to be able to react fast,,,,I also feel that he doesn’t think that I am a good candidate for surgery.

So there it is,,and here am I,,,trying to deal with everyday life, and the lack of any understading or sympathy from some of my family,as they feel that I have gained this weight on my own, and if I just ” took better care of myself,and got some exercise” I would feel and look better,,,,,,,as if any one would do this to themselves,,,,,,:>( ,,,,,,,,,,oh well,you guys understand at least,,,,,,thanks for listening

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Kandis, Pituitary Bio

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golden-oldie

 

Last Updated December 6, 2008

My diagnosis was Pituitary Cushing’s Disease. Had transphenoidal that did not work and ended up having a bilateral adrenalectomy.

Here is a link to my website that has my story and several pictures. I welcome any questions/comments/conversations!

Update November 7, 2007

I just want to update my bio to say that the address of my website has changed. The address of the new website that I have that contains my story and pics (and some new pics) is now:

http://www.KandisMcCartney.fasthoster.info/index.html

Update December 2008

When I finished writing this story over a year ago, I hoped that I wouldn’t have to do any additions, at least not for awhile. However, after marrying the man of dreams in August 2008, the man who stuck by my side through all of this, I started developing some frequent headaches. Nothing horrible, but growing ever more persistent. I had been slowly growing a deeper and deeper tan, so much so that I couldn’t go out into the sun for more than a few minutes without a high SPF sunblock or my skin would turn REALLY dark. We went to the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon, and people thought I was a native I was so dark by the time we left. I always knew that there was the possibility of me developing Nelson’s Syndrome, but I always hoped it wouldn’t happen. I pretty much knew going into my MRI at the end of September that my tumor had grown, especially after finding out that my ACTH levels had doubled in a matter of months. Sure enough, when the results of my MRI came back, we were finally able to see the little booger that had been evasive up until now. My adenoma was clearly visible at approximately 8mm located on what was left of my pituitary gland. My new endocrinologist (my former doctor went into research for awhile) along with my amazingly talented neurosurgeon, as well as the radiologists agreed that I should give a second transphenoidal surgery a try. They felt that with my age, desire to have children, and current condition, it was the best choice for me. The neurosurgeon felt he would have a good chance for success this time, especially since the tumor was now visible. He said that as long as when they got up in there and there was a clear difference between what was normal tissue and what was tumor, he thought it would be very likely the surgery would work and he would be able to remove the tumor. I had grown to really trust my neurosurgeon and believed that this was indeed the right decision for me.

Everything happened pretty quickly, and I was in the hospital awaiting surgery on the morning of October 15, 2008. There was a delay in the start time, as the previous surgery had taken longer than expected and we didn’t have a room. They finally arranged for another room, and I was wheeled on in to have my surgery. I awoke in the recovery room to find my husband waiting there for me to open my eyes. I knew immediately, I just had this feeling that was different from my first transphenoidal, that everything had been successful. I was thoroughly amazed at how well I could breathe this time around! I wasn’t stuffy at all the way I had been the first time around. I didn’t even have to go to ICU, I went straight to my private room. The neurosurgeons came around the following morning and said that the surgery went remarkably well and I handled it like a champ. They said it didn’t even look like I had had surgery. I told them that it really didn’t feel like I had. They said that because I already had this done before, they used the same pathway, through my nose, and it wasn’t near as intense since the hole was already there. Since I had the same two surgeons both times, they knew already how they had done the first one, so they were familiar with my nose and head. I was up and walking around and everyone – doctors, surgeons, nurses, physical therapists were amazed. Everyone could see that I was ready to go home. I was released early that evening after only a little over 24 hours since my surgery.

The recovery at home was very easy, I was only off work for a few days, just to gain my strength back and make sure everything was indeed okay. My post-op bloodwork showed a significant drop in ACTH levels indicating that the surgery was indeed successful. My post-op MRI looked great as well, no signs of tumor. Of course, we can’t be 100% sure that the tumor is completely gone, and that it won’t grow back, but that is what we will hope for. In the meantime, I am so happy, healthy, and grateful to be alive and enjoying life. I will not live each day worrying about what could happen, I’d rather focus on everything good I have right now. …and I’d say, that’s a lot!

I’d like to send my deepest thanks and appreciation to the absolutely wonderful Pituitary Team at Johns Hopkins Hospital. They are some of the most amazingly talented, intelligent, and kind doctors that one could ever wish for. I wouldn’t be sitting here today so healthy and happy without them. I’d like to send special thanks to my endocrinologist, Dr. Salvatori, who always takes such good care of me, and my incredible neurosurgeon, Dr. Olivi, who I trust with my life! You are both my heroes.

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Doc Karen, Pituitary and BLA Bio

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Karen’s Story

Life was good! In fact, life was great! I was married to the love of my life. We had a beautiful little girl. My husband and I had both earned our graduate degrees. I earned my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and was growing my clinical practice. I loved my work!

In October, 2006, my life was turned upside down when I gained 30 pounds in 30 days! I knew this was not normal at all. I sought answers but my doctor kept insisting that I wasn’t eating the right foods, that I wasn’t exercising hard enough, and finally that it was genetic. However, I was always a thin person, I ate pretty healthy foods, and I was pretty active. Red flags became even greater when my physician put me on prescription weight loss drugs and I STILL gained another 30 pounds. I knew my body and I knew something was wrong but I had no one to validate what was going on.

In January, 2010, to my surprise, I learned that I was miraculously pregnant with our second daughter. I was so sick during that pregnancy and,  again, my doctors couldn’t figure out why. My OBGYN was very supportive, yet so concerned. Her solution was to put me on bed rest. I became so ill that she told me that “my only job was to sit still and wait to have a baby”. I did give birth to a healthy baby girl four weeks early. Little did I know, then, how much of a miracle she was.

During the latter part of my pregnancy, while flipping through channels on television, I came across a Cushing’s episode on the health TV show, “Mystery Diagnosis”.

 

 

I knew right away that this diagnosis fit everything I had been experiencing: years of weird and unexplained symptoms, gaining 150 pounds for no reason, an onset of diabetes, high blood pressure, and an overall sense of doom.

You see, my friends and family witnessed me go from a vibrant young Clinical Psychologist in practice, to someone whose health deteriorated due to the symptoms of Cushing’s, as I tried for many years to get answers from professionals. As I continued to eat a healthy, 1000 calorie per day diet, engage in exercise with multiple personal trainers, and follow through with referrals to consult with dietitians; I continued to gain weight at a rate of 5 pounds per week and experience rapidly declining health. Finally, after watching that Cushing’s episode of Mystery Diagnosis, I found my answer! Ultimately, I sought the expertise of and treatment from a team of experts at the Seattle Pituitary Center in Seattle, WA. I had brain surgery in Seattle on November 16th, 2011. I want to tell you how I found the people who helped save my life…

On June 9, 2011, I went to my first MAGIC conference. I had never heard of them but someone on one of the online support groups told me about it.  At that time, I was working but was very, very sick. We suspected at that time that I had been sick for years! My local endocrinologist was far from a Cushing’s expert. After watching the Cushing’s episode of Mystery Diagnosis, I told the same endocrinologist who had misdiagnosed me for years that I had found my answer. He swore that there was “literally no possible way that I had Cushing’s Disease!” He stated that my “hump wasn’t big enough”, “my stretch marks were not purple enough” and that “Cushing’s patients do not have children!” I told him that I was NOT leaving his office until he started testing me. He finally caved in. To his surprise, I was getting abnormal labs back.

At that time, there was evidence of a pit tumor but it wasn’t showing up on an MRI. So, I had my IPSS scheduled. An IPSS stands for Inferior Petrosal Sinus Sampling. It is done because 60 % of Cushing’s based pituitary tumors are so small that they do not show up on an MRI. Non Cushing’s experts do not know this so they often blow patients off, even after the labs show a high level of ACTH in the brain through blood work. An overproduction of the hormone ACTH from the pituitary communicates to the adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol. Well, the IPSS procedure is where they put catheters up through your groin through your body up into your head to draw samples to basically see which side of your pituitary the extra hormone is coming from, thus indicating where the tumor is. U of C is the only place in IL that does it.

So, back to the MAGIC convention; my husband and I went to this conference looking for answers. We were so confused and scared!  Everyone, and I mean everyone, welcomed us with opened arms like we were family! There were brilliant presenters there, including an endocrinologist named Dr. William Ludlam. At that time, he was the director at the Seattle Pituitary Center in Seattle, WA. He is a true Cushing’s expert. Since then, he left in January, 2012 to have a significant impact toward the contribution of research of those impacted by Cushing’s Syndrome. His position was taken over by another brilliant endocrinologist, Dr. Frances Broyles.

I was scheduled to get an IPSS at U of C on June 28th, 2011 to locate the tumor. Two days after the IPSS, I began having spontaneous blackouts and ended up in the hospital for 6 days. The docs out here had no clue what was happening and I was having between 4-7 blackouts a day! My life was in danger and they were not helping me! We don’t know why, but the IPSS triggered something! But, no one wanted to be accountable so they told me the passing out, which I was not doing before, was all in my head being triggered by psychological issues. They did run many tests. But, they were all the wrong tests. I say all the time; it’s like going into Subway and ordering a turkey sandwich and giving them money and getting a tuna sandwich. You would be mad! What if they told you, “We gave you a sandwich!” Even if they were to give you a dozen sandwiches; if it wasn’t turkey, it wouldn’t be the right one. This is how I feel about these tests that they ran and said were all “normal”. The doctors kept telling us that they ran all of these tests so they could cover themselves. Yet, they were not looking at the right things, even though, I (the patient) kept telling them that this was an endocrine issue and had something to do with my tumor! Well, guess how good God is?!!!!

You see, Dr. Ludlam had given me his business card at the conference, which took place two weeks prior to the IPSS. I put it away for a while. But, something kept telling me to pull the card out and contact him. I am crying just thinking about it, Lord!

So, prior to my IPSS, I wrote Dr. Ludlam an e mail asking him some questions. At that time, he told me to send him ALL of my records including labs. I sent him 80 pages of records that day.  He called me back stating that he concurred with all of the evidence that I definitely have Cushing’s Disease from a pituitary source. He asked me what I planned to do and I told him that I was having the IPSS procedure done in a few days at the University of Chicago. He told me once I got my results to contact him.

Fast forward, I ended up in the hospital with these blackouts after my IPSS. The doctors, including MY local endocrinologist told me there was no medical evidence for my blackouts. In fact, he told the entire treatment team that he even doubted if I even had a tumor! However, this is the same man who referred me for the IPSS in the first place! I was literally dying and no one was helping me! We reached out to Dr. Ludlam in Seattle and told him of the situation. He told me he knew exactly what was going on. For some reason, there was a change in my brain tumor activity that happened after my IPSS. No one, to this day, has been able to answer the question as to whether the IPSS caused the change in tumor activity. The tumor, for some reason, began shutting itself on and off. When it would shut off, my cortisol would drop and would put me in a state of adrenal insufficiency, causing these blackouts!

Dr. Ludlam said as soon as we were discharged, we needed to fly out to Seattle so that he could help me! The hospital discharged me in worse condition then when I came in. I had a blackout an hour after discharge! But get this…The DAY the hospital sent me home saying that I did not have a pit tumor, my IPSS results were waiting for me! EVIDENCE OF TUMOR ON THE LEFT SIDE OF MY PITUITARY GLAND!!!

Two days later, Craig and I were on a plane to Seattle. I had never in my life been to Seattle, nor did I ever think I would go. We saw the man that God used to save my life, Dr. William Ludlam, the same man who we had met at the MAGIC conference for the first time one month prior! He put me on a combo of medications that would pull me out of crisis. Within one month, my blackouts had almost completely stopped! Unfortunately, we knew this was a temporary fix! He was treating me to carry me over to surgery. You see, his neurosurgeon, Dr. Marc Mayberg was just as amazing. He is one of the top neurosurgeons in the US! Statistically, he has one of the highest success rates!

The problem was that our insurance refused to pay for surgery with an expert outside of IL, stating that I could have surgery anywhere in IL! Most people don’t know that pituitary surgeries are very complicated and need the expertise of a “high volume center” which is where they do at least 50 of these surgeries per year. Dr. Mayberg has performed over 5,000 of these surgeries!  By this time, we had learned that we need to fight for the best care! It was what would give me the best chance at life! We thought I would have to wait until January when our insurance would change, to see if I could get the surgery I so desperately needed! I was holding on by a thread!

We began appealing our insurance. At the time the MAGIC foundation had an insurance specialist who was allowed to help us fight our insurance. Her name is Melissa Callahan and she took it upon herself to fight for us as our patient advocate. It was a long and hard battle! But…we finally WON!!!! On November 16th, 2011, Dr. Marc Mayberg found that hidden tumor on the left side of my pituitary gland! He removed the tumor along with 50% of my pituitary gland.

Recovery was a difficult process. They say that it takes about one full year to recover after pituitary surgery for Cushing’s. I was grateful to be in remission, nonetheless. However, about one year after my brain surgery, the Cushing’s symptoms returned. After seven more months of testing that confirmed a recurrence of the Cushing’s, I was cleared for a more aggressive surgery. This time, I had both of my adrenal glands removed as a last resort. By then, we had learned that I had hyperplasia, which is an explosion of tumor cells in my pituitary. It only takes one active cell to cause Cushing’s. Therefore, I could have potentially had several more brain surgeries and the disease would have kept coming back over and over.

As a last resort, my adrenal glands were removed so that no matter how much these cells try to cause my adrenals to produce excessive amounts of cortisol; the glands are not there to receive the message. As a result, I am Adrenally Insufficient for life, which means that my body cannot produce the life sustaining hormone, cortisol, at all. I had my Bilateral Adrenalectomy by world renowned BLA surgeon, Dr. Manfred Chiang, in Wisconsin on August 21st, 2013. I traded Cushing’s Disease for Addison’s Disease, one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my life. However, I knew that I would die with Cushing’s. Recovery from my last surgery was difficult and involved weaning down to a maintenance dose of steroid to replace my cortisol. Now, on a maintenance dose; I still have to take extra cortisol during times of physical or emotional stress to prevent my body from going into shock.

I promised a long time ago that I would pay it forward…give back because so much has been given to me. This is why I have committed my life to supporting the Cushing’s community. I post videos on YouTube as a way of increasing awareness. My channel can be found at http://www.YouTube.com/drnkarenthames

Additionally, I am working on a Cushing’s documentary. Please like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Hug.A.Cushie

Thank you for taking the time to read my story!

Karen has made 2 videos about her experiences with Cushing’s:

 

and

Doc Karen will be our guest in an interview on BlogTalk Radio  Friday December 2 at 11:00 AM eastern.  The Call-In number for questions or comments is (323) 642-1665 .

The archived interview will be available through iTunes Podcasts (Cushie Chats) or BlogTalkRadio.  While you’re waiting, there are currently 90 other past interviews to listen to!

Kim H, Ectopic Bio

2 Comments

golden-oldie

 

I was diagnosed with Cushing’s in 1986. I had all the symptoms. Weight gain, purple stretch marks, severe acne, hair all over the face, balding on the head, muscle weakness, depression, no periods, moon face, etc.

I had all the blood, urine tests. Scans, x-rays and even petrosal sinus sampling. These were inconclusive as to the source. The MRI of the pituitary showed swelling and near to the optic nerve, so the next step was pituitary surgery which was done in August 1986.

However the cortisol levels were still high. I still had Cushing’s. I was then given the choice of long term drug treatment while the source was located or to have an adrenalectomy. I was told that if I became pregnant on the drugs the pregnancy would not be able to continue because the effect of the drugs on a feotus wasn’t known. I felt that at the age of 24 I wanted my health back and the chance to have children if I was lucky enough. So in the October 1986 I had bilateral adrenalectomy through the back.

My Cushing’s was to all intents and purposes cured. Nearly 16 years later the ectopic source has never been found despite many more tests. It is still there because it still produces ACTH. The good side is now that I tan really easily which is amazing considering the British weather. I take hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone. I have never felt that I truly got my health back but am glad to still be here. I went on to have two lovely children, now aged 14 and 12. I was diagnosed with osteoporosis last year after years of back pain which is now being treated. I also had some problems last year and was diagnosed with angina and my steroids had to be increased due to a total lack of energy.

Up till now I have just about managed to hold down a full time job as a merchandiser for Hallmark Cards but have now taken the decision to go part-time which I am able to do with Hallmark. I have been married twice and am again a single parent. The men in my life could not cope with my health problems, so I figure I am better off with being on my own to bring up my kids. I think that’s about all. I would just like to say a huge thank-you to St. Bartolomews Hospital in London for all they have done for me over the years. Without their care and support I probably wouldn’t be here. p.s. I still suffer from depression but the old prozac sure helps.

Update: May, 2007

It is now 2007 and in 2006 they found my ectopic source in my appendix. It looked on the scan like it was in the central blood vessel but when they operated my appendix had flipped itself up and the tumour was sitting on the tip of it. After they tested it it was found to be a carcinoid tumour. Thankfully it was all taken away and the outcome was ok.

For the first time in over 20 years I can honestly say that i am much beter. for 20 years i felt ill and now i feel great. Obviously i still have bad days as I have no adrenal glands. But i will always be greatful for the immense help and support that i have received from professor Grossman and St. Bartholomews hospital in London.

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