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Survivor’s parents organize charity bike ride for Children’s Hospital neurosurgery

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La Cañada resident Taylor Winter was just 12 when she was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, a condition caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland that affects everything from organ function and sleep to hormone levels and body growth.

Although she’d likely lived with the ailment for years, once it was discovered by an endocrinologist, Taylor’s family had to act fast to remove the tumor. That’s when they were referred to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles’ neurosurgery division, according to mom Gaia Winter.

“We met with neurosurgeons to see what her options were, and eight days later she was in surgery,” Winter said, recalling the two surgeries it took to remove Taylor’s tumor.

Today, Taylor is an 18-year-old freshman studying theater arts at North Carolina’s High Point University. Her life may not be perfect (she still endures complications from her condition and surgeries) but she knows it’s better than it would have been had the tumor gone unchecked.

“I was not in a happy place before I got treatment, and I think it would still be that way today if I had gone undiagnosed,” she said in an email interview.

This Saturday at 11:30 a.m., Gaia and husband Wade Winter are hosting a charity bike ride at the indoor cycling studio SoulCycle in Pasadena to raise money for Children’s Hospital’s Neurosurgery Ambassadors group. The group comprises former brain surgery patients and their families who wish to “pay it forward” by raising funds for the neurosurgery division.

For a $75 donation, participants can reserve a bike and take a 45-minute stationary bike group ride, although cycling is not mandatory, Gaia Winter said. The money raised will help sponsor neurosurgery fellow Dr. Judith Wong, who will take her training to a town where skilled neurosurgeons are few.

Michael Sampiano, director of the hospital’s Ambassador groups, worked with the Winters and another family to create the program in 2012. So far, the neurosurgery division has received $14,000 from the efforts of that group. Both Taylor and twin sister Alissa are junior ambassadors in the program.

“The money this group raises covers the training and living expenses of our pediatric neurosurgery fellow (and) it gives our neurosurgery division the financial backing to continue its work,” Sampiano said, encouraging locals to join in Saturday’s ride. “It is indeed an investment in the community and for kids in the future who might be in need of this life-saving work.”

Taylor says she was lucky to have such a skilled facility so close to home and recalls her time spent at Children’s Hospital positively.

“Even though I was in pain or discomfort for the majority of my stays, the hospital staff and various volunteer groups… helped create such a fun and caring environment that I didn’t want to leave,” Taylor said.

The Winters, along with other patient families, hope to raise $100,000 this year for the neurosurgery division through the Ambassadors group. It’s the least they can do to give back, after being given so much, Gaia Winter says.

“They gave her the ability to be a normal kid,” she said. “We just feel passionate about giving back to them. The amount of work they do and the lives they touch is tremendous.”

 

What: Charity Ride for the Division of Neurosurgery

Where: SoulCycle, 140 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena.

When: Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m.

Admission: A bike reservation cost $75 but all donations will be accepted.

More info: Visit http://support.chla.org/pages/thewinterfamily or email NeuroAmb@gmail.com

Lisa B (Lisa/FNP2B2017), Adrenal Bio

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adrenal_glands

 

Hello,

Where do I start? I have had Cushing symptoms since the late 1990″s. I was tested for cushings and was told that I did not have it.

Then in 2007 I was diagnosed with a tumor in my adrenal gland, mind you I still had symptoms off and on since the 90’s. I went to every endocrine in the Fredericksburg area and was on the OR table to have my adrenal gland removed when the Endocrine said that Cushings was not completely ruled in as what was going on with me, despite 3 24 hour urines showing elevated cortisol levels.

Then I went to this doctor then that doctor…….still saying they couldn’t confirm my diagnosis. In October 2007 I was admitted to the hospital with a pneumonia and did an MRI of my head (again) because I was having severe headaches which showed a lesion of some kind.

After 6 weeks of IV antibiotics and a repeat MRI I decided that I should go see a neurosurgeon. As soon as I walked into his office and never saying a word with medical records in my hand he said “Have you ever been worked up for something called Cushing Syndrome? I replied yes and he said you are very sick and need to have it taken care of and sent me to Georgetown Hospital in Washington DC….where I saw a surgeon and had my right adrenal gland removed 12/29/2008.

I have been pretty healthy until about 18 months my primary doctor was concerned about my heart rate being so high and my brother had just had a quad bypass surgery and sent me to the cardiologist. My heart rate has never been lower than 100 since I can’t remember…..and back in March 2014 I started having weakness going up the stairs, then in September my hips and back started hurting and I was having problems falling asleep and staying asleep.

My HbgA1c was 13.7 and I could not figure out why my blood sugars were spiking despite being on a diet and insulin. My cortisol level was normal in October. I started a really strict diet and not cheating the week of Christmas…..yes I know crazy…..I was only eating veggies, protein and 2 fruit servings a day…to detox my body….I gained 6 pounds.

When January came and I had to see my cardiologist for a follow up my heart rate was 128 and I i had gained 17 pounds in four weeks and guess where it all was…..my abdomen…..I felt like my Cushings had been causing havoc on my body. I was noticing the thin skin and bruises that wouldn’t heel. But I was thinking this can’t be returning until my cardiologist ordered that dreaded 24 hour urine and my levels were 98….2 times the normal….

I just did a repeat last week and had a MRI of my abdomen which the urine was guess what positive for elevated cortisol and the real shocker came today when my doctor called and said my MRI showed both adrenals….but how can that be I had the right one removed in 2008 that had a 4cm tumor in it??? My doctor is wondering if there was residual tissue left behind and what seems to be an adrenal is really a tumor??? Has anyone experienced a re-growth or Cushings for a second time….

My doctor is trying to get me into Georgetown asap because obviously the beast has returned.

Thank-you for your support and understandings in advance!!!!!

Lisa

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Janet (janetelizabeth), Adrenal Bio

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I have recently been diagnosed with cushings syndrome and awaiting removal of gland and tumour

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