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In Memory: Kate Myers

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Kate (Fairley on the Cushing’s Help message boards)  was only 46 when she died on June 23, 2014.  Her board signature read:

After 2 failed pit surgeries and a CSF leak repair,
BLA on Sept. 11, 2008 w/Dr. Fraker at UPenn
Gamma knife radiation at UPenn Oct. 2009
Now disabled and homebound. No pit, no adrenals and radiation damage to my hypothalamus.
My cure is God’s will, and I still have hope and faith!

During her too-short life, she provided help and support to other Cushies.

Her National Geographic video in 2007

Her BlogTalkRadio Interview in 2008: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cushingshelp/2008/07/17/interview-with-kate-fairley

Articles to help others:

Kate’s Family Letter
Kate’s Packing Suggestions For Surgery
Kate’s Pituitary Surgery Observations

Kate’s bio from 2008:

Hi y’all! I will try to make this short, but there is a lot to say.

I stumbled across this board after a google search last night. Yesterday, I finally saw a real endocrinologist. I am 39 years old. I weigh 362. I was diagnosed by a reproductive endocrinologist with PCOS at age 30, but all of my symptoms started at age 22.

At age 22, I was an avid runner, healthy at 140-145 pounds and 5’7″. I got a knee injury and stopped running right around the time that my periods just….stopped. And by stopped, I mean completely disappeared after mostly regular periods since age 12. I was tested by the student health clinic at UGA, and referred to an obgyn for lap exploration for endometriosis, which was ruled out. I remember that they ran some bloodwork and ultimately came back with this frustrating response: We don’t know what it is, but it’s probably stress-related because your cortisol is elevated.

Soon thereafter, I gained 80 pounds in about 6 months, and another 30 the next six months. Suddenly, in one year, I was 110 pounds heavier than my original weight of 140. I recall my mom and sister talking about how fast I was gaining weight. At the time, I blamed myself: I wasn’t eating right, I’d had to stop running due to the knee injury and my metabolism must have been “used” to the running; I was going through some family problems, so it must be that I’m eating for emotional reasons related to depression. You name the self-blame category, and I tried them all on for size.

Whatever the reason, I stopped avoiding mirrors and cameras. The person looking back at me was a stranger, and acquaintances had stopped recognizing me. A bank refused to cash my security deposit refund check from my landlord when I graduated because I no longer looked like my student ID or my driver’s license. I was pulled over for speeding while driving my dad’s Mercedes graduation weekend, and the cop who pulled me over almost arrested me for presenting a false ID. These are some really painful memories, and I wonder if anyone here can relate to the pain of losing your physical identity to the point that you are a stranger to yourself and others?

Speaking of size, from age 24 to 26 I remained around 250, had very irregular periods occuring only a few times a year (some induced), developed cystic acne in weird places, like my chest, shoulders, buttocks (yikes!), found dark, angry purple stretch marks across my abdomen (some of which I thought were so severe that my insides were going to come out through them) which I blamed on the weight gain, the appearance of a pronounced buffalo hump (which actually started at age 22 at the beginning of the weight gain), dark black hairs on my fair Scottish chin (and I’m talking I now have to shave twice daily), a slight darkening of the skin around my neck and a heavy darkening of the skin in my groin area, tiny skin tags on my neck. I was feeling truly lovely by graduation from law school and my wedding to my wonderful DH.

At age 26, I ballooned again, this time up to 280-300, where I stayed until age 32, when I went up to 326. The pretty girl who used to get cat calls when she ran was no more. She had been buried under a mountain of masculined flesh. I still had a pretty, albeit very round, face, though. And I consoled myself that I still have lovely long blonde hair — that is, until it started falling out, breaking off, feeling like straw.

At age 30, I read about PCOS on the internet and referred myself to a reproductive endocrinologist, who confirmed insulin resistance after a glucose tolerance test. I do not know what else he tested for — I believe my testosterone was high. He prescribed Metformin, but after not having great success on it after 5-6 months, I quit taking it, and seeing him. Dumb move.

Two years later, at age 32, I weighed 326. In desperation, I went on Phentermine for 3 months and lost 80 pounds the wrong way, basically starving. I was back down to 240-250, where I remained from age 33-35. After the weight loss, I got my period a few times, and started thinking about trying to have a baby. Many ultrasounds per month over a few months revealed that I just wasn’t ovulating. I decided to put off starting the family when the doctor started talking about IVF, etc. It just seemed risky to me — my body, after all, felt SICK all the time, and I couldn’t imagine carrying a baby and it winding up to be healthy.

At age 35, I ballooned again, this time significantly — from 240 to 320 in the space of 6 months. Another 45 pounds added by age 37, so that’s 125 pounds in two year. I’ve remained between 345-365 for the last two years, depending on how closely I was following my nutritionist’s recommended 1600 calorie per day diet….which was not all the time.

Which takes me to last year. I went for a physical because I wasn’t feeling well, kept getting sick, had a lot of fatigue, weird sweating where my hair would get totally drenched for no reason. At this point, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, hypothyroism (which has now been modified to Hashimoto’s thyroidis), high cholesterol (although this was present at age 30 when I got the PCOS diagnosis). I went back to my repro-endo, and resolved to make myself stay on Metformin this time. All last year was a series of monthly blood work and attempts to lose weight with an eye toward trying to get pregnant this year. By the end of the year, I was successful in taking off only 20 pounds, and my repro-endo (always with an eye toward fertility and not health), really pushed me to give up on losing weight at that moment and to start taking Clomid. Or else, he said. The words that broke my heart: this may be your last chance.

So, skip forward to January 2006. My ovaries are blown out and they are clear — no blockages. I get cleared to start fertility treatments. My husband undergoes his own embarrassing tests. I think we have an agenda here, but my mind was chewing on serious concerns that I was simply too unhealthy to be considering trying this. That, and I felt it would be a futile effort.

By the way, more than a year on the Metformin with no real changes to anything. Why doesn’t my body respond to it like other people with PCOS?

Then late March, I started experiencing extreme fatigue. And I’m not talking about the kind where you need to take a nap on a Sunday afternoon to gear up for the week ahead (which I’d always considered a nice indulgence, but not a necessity). I’m talking debilitating, life-altering fatigue. It didn’t start out right away to be debilitating — or maybe I just made the usual excuses as I always do relating to my health: I’m still getting over that flu/cold from last month. I just got a promotion at work (though I note a greatly reduced stress and caseload now that I am a managing attorney. My weight is causing it. Whatever.

I let it go on for a full two months before I started to really worry, or admit to myself that my quality life had taken a serious downward turn. You see, despite my weight and my scary appearance, I have always been the “director” type. By that I mean that last year, I worked with two other women to direct 100 volunteers to start a summer camp for inner city kids, and I had enough energy to run this ambitious new project and to film, produce and edit a 30 minute documentary on it by the end of the summer.

In contrast, I had to take a backseat this year. I basically sat in a chair and answered the questions of volunteers, made a few phone calls here and there, and was simply a “presence” in case something major went wrong. Such a major change from the year before, where I was running the whole show 14 hours a day and loving it.

But I am getting ahead of myself. (Is anyone still reading this? I must be narcissitic to think so….yet, I wonder if anyone else has gone through a similar progression….)

Back to May. After two months of this fatigue, I change to a new primary care physician and get a whole workup: blood, urine, thyroid ultrasound, cardiac stress test, liver ultrasound when my enzymes, which had been slightly elevated, were found to have doubled since January. Appointments with a gastroenterologist, and FINALLY….a REAL endocrinologist. Ruled out any serious liver problems (and my levels, surprisingly, dropped back to the slightly elevated level in a space of 3 weeks and no treatment).

Yesterday, I heard a word I’d only heard spoken once before in my life: Cushings. Way back when I was 22 and had started gaining weight so rapidly, I had a boyfriend who worked the graveyard shift at the local hospital. He spent the better part of a non-eventful week of nights pouring over medical books in the library. He excitedly showed me the pages he’d photocopied, which had sketches of a woman with a very rounded face (like mine), striae on her stomach (like mine), abdomenal obesity (like mine) and a pronounced buffalo hump. Although my former boyfriend was just a college student working his way through his music degree by earing some money moonlighting as a hospital security guard, he was the first one to note all of these tell-tale signs.

When I got my diagnosis of PCOS, I remember discounting his amateur diagnosis, and I never thought of it again.

Until yesterday, when my new endo asked me if anyone had ever tested my cortisol or if I’d ever done a 24 hour urine test. I said no, and he started writing out the referral form along with like 15-20 different blood tests. And although we’d started our appointment with him telling me he agreed with my repro-endo’s encouragement to go ahead and try to get pregnant if I can, by the end of the visit, he was telling me not everyone is meant to be a parent, there is always adoption, etc. The only thing that happened during the appointment was that I gave him my basic history of weight gain, described the fatigue, and let him examine my striae, buffalo hump and legs (which were hidden under a long straight skirt). The question about the urine screen and corisol came after this physical exam, during which he was taking lots of notes.

Then the word, which was not spoken directly to me but to his nurse practioner as I was making my two-week appointment in the reception area outside the examining room: “She looks classic Cushings. I’ll be interested to get those results.”

Cushings. Cushings. No– that’s not me. I’m not that weird-shaped, hairy, mannish-looking, round-faced, hump-backed creature my boyfriend had shown me a picture of 16 years earlier. I have PCOS, right? It’s just my fault. I don’t eat right. If I’d just eat better, I wouldn’t be 2.5 times my weight in college. Right?

I quickly came home and did an internet search. Within an hour, I was sitting in front of the computer, reading some bios here and BAWLING, just crying some body-wracking sobs as I looked at the pictures of the people on this board. Here, here (!!!!) is an entire community who has the same, wrenchingly painful picture-proven physical progression that I went through. The same symptoms and signs. Words of encouragement — of….hope. I didn’t feel scared to read about the possibility of a pituitary tumor — last year, I had a brain MRI of the optic nerve because of sudden vision irregularities, headaches and shooting eye pain. The MRI showed nothing, but then again, the image was not that great because I had to go into the lower-resolution open MRI due to my size.

I have no idea whether I have Cushing’s Syndrome or not, but these are my first steps in my journey of finding out. After living my entire adult life with an array of progressive, untreatable, brushed-off symptoms (and years of self-blame for depression, obesity, becoming so unattractive), there was a major “click” as I read this site, and a sense of relief that maybe, just maybe, what I have has a name, I’m not crazy/fat/ugly/lazy, the PCOS diagnosis, which has gotten me nowhere is incorrect, and I might have something TREATABLE.

So, without going so far as to say I hope for a diagnosis, I am hopeful for some definitive answers. If my urine tests are inconclusive (and my doctor only ordered one and no serum cortisol tests), I am going to fly out to L.A. and see Dr. Friedman for a full work up.

And, I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for posting your stories, which have encouraged me to advocate for myself in a manner and direction, which this time, may be fruitful.

Be well, my new friends,
Kate

p.s. I will post some pictures this week after I scan some of the “after” one….I try to avoid the camera at all costs. I’m sure you understand just what I’m talking about, and for that, I am truly grateful.

 

MSU Docs Help Local Teen with Rare Disease

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A team of MSU doctors has helped a Leslie teen overcome a rare disease of the pituitary gland.

19-year-old Sydney Kandell was diagnosed with Cushing disease about a year ago. Doctors say the disease is often mistaken for obesity.

Kandell gained 100 pounds during her senior year in high school. She struggled with headaches, high blood pressure, acne, and dark stretchmarks. Her face also appeared very round. Kandell knew something was very wrong. “I was very depressed. It was very upsetting because I went to the doctor multiple times about my weight gain, and acne, and they all said the same thing, ‘Write a food journal, exercise more, it will solve all your problems.'”

But a visit to the Emergency Room for an intense headache, lead Kandell to a MSU Resident Physician who recognized Kandell’s symptoms. Dr. Tiffany Burns said, “I was very sure that she had Cushing disease. We ruled out the more common things. Cushing disease is very uncommon. We ruled out the uncommon things first, but once we got to testing her urine for the steroid level, that’s when I knew I had to call Dr. Aldasouqi.”

Dr. Saleh Aldasouqi, a senior endocrinologist at MSU confirmed Burn’s diagnoses. “I rushed to MRI because I had a strong belief and a gut feeling that she has a pituitary tumor and perhaps a big pituitary tumor. Usually these tumors that cause Cushing disease are small in the pituitary and they are very difficult to detect. Her tumor was big.”

A neurologist removed the tumor a few weeks later. Kandell now controls the disease with cortisol. She’s lost 60 pounds and is thankful someone listened. “I can’t even explain how that felt in words how that felt to have an answer.”

Kandell has a tattoo on her wrist as a reminder of her journey with Cushing disease. She is very passionate about spreading the word about the disease often mistaken for obesity. She plans to go to medical school to study endocrinology.

Cushing disease is caused by small benign tumors in the pituitary gland that increase levels of the hormone cortisol.  The disease and growths can go undetected.  Doctors say the disease can be mistaken for depression or obesity in its early stages.

Symptoms Include: Weight gain, fatty deposit between the shoulders (buffalo hump), pink or purple stretch marks, Thinning fragile skin that bruises easily, acne.  Women may experience irregular menstrual periods, thicker or more visible body and facial hair.

From WILX.com

Archived Interview with Kathy C, Pituitary Patient

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Kathy was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor in 1991.

At the time the only symptom she was aware of was a severe headache. She had a transsphenoidal resection followed by radiation therapy for 23 days. They said they could not remove all of the tumor.  She is now on Signifor and Cabergoline.

Read Kathy’s entire bio at https://cushingsbios.com/2014/04/27/interview-may-7-with-kathy-c-pituitary-patient/

Listen to Kathy’s Interview here.

Kathy’s Interview is also on the CushingsHelp Podcast

Interview May 7 with Kathy C, Pituitary Patient

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My name is Kathy Casey. I am a 63 year old retired school nurse. I am married with two wonderful sons and a grandson. My husband and I live in the mountain town of Mt. Shasta in northern California. I have always been athletic.

In 1995, I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor. At the time the only symptom I was aware of was a severe headache. I had a transphenoidal resection by Dr. Wilson at UCSF Medical Center followed by radiation therapy for 23 days. At the time they said they could not remove all of the tumor.

In 2008/2009. I exhibited symptoms of Cushing’s and my cortisol level was outrageous, and I had to be hospitalized initially for a potassium level of 2. I returned to UCSF and Dr. Anwar Sandeep operated . By removing part of the tumor. My Cushing symptoms resolved. However, he said that the tumor was not encapsulated and was invading the cavernous sinus and stella turcica so it was still not possible to remove it all.

I was OK until December 2013 when I began exhibiting the symptoms of Cushings. One of my 24 hr. urines was 14,000. I had to be hospitalized for a potassium level of 1.9. Dr. Heaney said he has never seen a cortisol level that high. This time I decided to go to the UCLA Pituitary Tumor and Endocrinology Program where they were more oriented to follow-up and treating this disorder. Dr. Bergsneider decided that surgery was not an option. He and Dr. Heaney decided radiation was not an option. So now I am being followed by Dr. Heaney to see if medication can help.

I am now on Cabergoline 0.5 mg three tabs twice a week and Signifor 0.9 mg subcutaneosly twice a day. I think they are alleviating some of the symptoms. However, the Signifor caused my blood sugar to rise, and I had to go on Metformin which is causing nausea to a point where I have a hard time eating.

Anyway, this whole situation is depressing and overwhelming. I am tryng to stay positive, but I wonder how it will turn out. I am fortunate to have a supportive and helpful husband.

I am interested in communicating with people who may be going through a similar experience and learning more about this rare condition.

Kathy will be interviewed May 7, 2014 in BlogTalkRadio

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Kathy C, Pituitary Bio

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My name is Kathy Casey. I am a 63 year old retired school nurse. I am married with two wonderful sons and a grandson. My husband and I live in the mountain town of Mt. Shasta in northern California. I have always been athletic.

In 1995, I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor. At the time the only symptom I was aware of was a severe headache. I had a transphenoidal resection by Dr. Wilson at UCSF Medical Center followed by radiation therapy for 23 days. At the time they said they could not remove all of the tumor.

In 2008/2009. I exhibited symptoms of Cushing’s and my cortisol level was outrageous, and I had to be hospitalized initially for a potassium level of 2. I returned to UCSF and Dr. Anwar Sandeep operated . By removing part of the tumor. My Cushing symptoms resolved. However, he said that the tumor was not encapsulated and was invading the cavernous sinus and stella turcica so it was still not possible to remove it all.

I was OK until December 2013 when I began exhibiting the symptoms of Cushings. One of my 24 hr. urines was 14,000. I had to be hospitalized for a potassium level of 1.9. Dr. Heaney said he has never seen a cortisol level that high. This time I decided to go to the UCLA Pituitary Tumor and Endocrinology Program where they were more oriented to follow-up and treating this disorder. Dr. Bergsneider decided that surgery was not an option. He and Dr. Heaney decided radiation was not an option. So now I am being followed by Dr. Heaney to see if medication can help.

I am now on Cabergoline 0.5 mg three tabs twice a week and Signifor 0.9 mg subcutaneosly twice a day. I think they are alleviating some of the symptoms. However, the Signifor caused my blood sugar to rise, and I had to go on Metformin which is causing nausea to a point where I have a hard time eating.

Anyway, this whole situation is depressing and overwhelming. I am tryng to stay positive, but I wonder how it will turn out. I am fortunate to have a supportive and helpful husband.

I am interested in communicating with people who may be going through a similar experience and learning more about this rare condition.

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Amanda, Undiagnosed Bio

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golden-oldie

 

I have been battling sickness for about a year and half now. It started with my gaining weight pretty rapidly (about 20 lbs. in a month-month and a half). I’ve never been super strict about my eating or exercising but I don’t eat a lot of junk food – don’t buy any chips, soda, cookies, etc.) I also do remain pretty active in the work that I do as an elementary teacher. I’ve never had a problem with my weight before and this particular summer I was teaching 3 sections of dance so I was getting plenty of exercise.  I told my family practioner about the weight gain and he told me that metabolism slows down as you age. Ok. I was 26 when he said this and my metabolism must have went down to 0 for me to gaine so fast! I decided to just be more concious of what I ate and did.

As the months went by, I went on a business trip to Boston. During this trip I was inrcedibly fatigued and felt awful. I thought perhaps I was coming down with something and was put on antibiotics that did nothing to help. In August of 2010 I began to have debilitating headaches. I could not get the headache to go away with any over the counter pain reliever and ended up going to a doctor who diagnosed me with migraines. I tried a few migraine medicines with no luck and had a CT scan that showed nothing abnormal. I was then referred to a neurologist.

I mentioned the weight gain to the neuroogist who thought it was odd that I would gain weight so rapidly, but he pretty much dismissed it as a symptom and said I was getting headaches from overuse of medication. I knew that could not be right, but thought I’d try just taking nothing for a while to see if it helped. It did not. The same neurologist then recommended physical therapy, which helped ease the pain but did not take away the headaches. His final thought was that I was depressed and put me on depression medication.

During this time I was working as a teacher and missing work quite often. I felt awful every day. I continued to gain weight, feel fatigued and weak, have mood swings and began developing stretch marks and acne. I always had wonderful skin and it seemed no matter what cleanser I used, I couldn’t control the breakouts.

I saw another neurologist that was recommended by a parent at my school. She scheduled me for an MRI and a lumbar puncture. My pressure came back a little high during the lumbar puncture and the MRI was fine so she diagnosed me with Pseudo Tumer Cerebri. I took medication for this condition, but ended up with no relief.

I ended up spending a week in the hospital because I couldn’t stand the pain in my head and I was so emotional over the whole experience of not having any answers. They pumped me full of pain medication and migraine drugs. At the end of the week when I still had no answers, I ended up going to see a neurologist that was a headache specialist.

The headache specialist diagnosed me with meningitis. No tests but I got a diagnosis based on my story. She put me on steriods. I began to feel better for a few days. I returned to work and thought I had finally found my answer. Then everything came to a screeching halt and I began to feel awful again. The headache specialist was still convinced it was meningitis and said I was just more susceptible to migraines from the meningitis. I again went through a whole gamot of migraine medications to no avail.

I ended up leaving my job and moving close to my family so I could have support and people to help care for me. I returned to my family doctor who decided to do some blood tests. After running the blood tests, my doctor said that my cortisol level was high and I might have cushings which would explain all my symptoms. I had never heard of Cushings so I began researching it. Once I read the symptoms and others’ stories of how they felt and what they went through I was so sure that here FINALLY was my answer. The doctor did a low dose dexamethasone test which came back with normal levels and it was decided I did not have Cushings.

I was devestated. Not that I wanted to have this illness, I just wanted an answer and thought for sure this was it! I even asked my doctor to retest me which she would not do.

I went to see another doctor. I began going through migraine medications again, acupunture, chiropractor, etc. to find some relief. I finally brought the idea of Cushings to this doctor. She ran some blood tests again. Everything came back with normal levels except my potassium was low. Even though my blood didn’t show it, I’m still convinced I have Cushings and my doctor agreed to send me to an endocrinologist.

I have an appointment on Monday with Dr. Findling in Menomenee Falls. I found him on this site as one of the ‘helpful doctors’. I’m hoping that he can finally diagnose me and I can get on the road to recovery.

I miss my life. I’ve lost friends due to this illness. My marriage is suffering. I cannot work. I basically have no life at all because I rarely feel well enough to do anything and no one understands. Not to mention the psychological toll being sick with no answers has on a person as well as watching my body change so much and not being able to do anything to control it! I want an answer and I want to finally know what I can do to help myself get better.

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Sheena (cuddlybeena), Undiagnosed Bio

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I have had 3 blood tests one high one slightly high one normal

My endo saw me for 10 mins and said he wanted to rule in or out Cushings He has now sent me a letter stating I have not got Cushings and hopes Im happy ???

I have al the signs and symtoms of Cushings and 6 months ago was put on treatment for Hyrpothyroid which is all under control I am in a lot of pain in my legs and headaches and my speech is glitchy

before this I walked upto 5 miles a day I just want to be normal again

Should I go private and get another opinion ???

Thanks to everyone out there and to this website 🙂

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Michael B, Adrenal Bio

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Michael B’s Story. Michael B was first diagnosed with Cushing’s in 1979 and had a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1980. In 1983 the symptoms reoccurred and he had a third adrenal removed in 1983. He then developed Nelson’s syndrome and had his pituitary (plus tumour) removed, followed by another pituitary surgery then 5 weeks of radiotherapy.

This Golden Oldie was last updated 06/07/2008

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I was diagnosed with Cushing’s in late 1979 and had a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1980. After the operation my weight reduced and my blood pressure stabilised to normal. In 1983 the symptoms re-occurred and I had a third adrenal removed in 1983 (this was found by the use of radioactive cholesterol isotope injection).

The anterior pituitary is the anterior, glandu...

The anterior pituitary is the anterior, glandular lobe of the pituitary gland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After this I felt good until 1987 when I developed Nelson’s syndrome and had my pituitary (plus tumour) removed. Again all went well until an MRI scan discovered that the tumour had returned.

In 1998 I had this removed followed by 5 weeks of radiotherapy in the hope of preventing a further growth of this tumour. To date and several MRI’s later it seems to be working.

In the early days my symptoms were all physical e.g. moon face, high blood pressure excess weight, abdominal striae, localised headache, I never suffered from depression.

I write to reassure people that it is possible to live a normal life after Cushing’s. Keep up the work on the website. I did not have the luxury of so much information. My information came from trawling through my local library for information for, like others, I got little information from my doctors.

Kristi (kingskid), Undiagnosed Bio

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Hi my name is Kristi and I’m seeking any help or advice on Cushings.

I had always been active growing up into sports, running, weight lifting and horseback riding.

27 Yrs ago I gave birth to a beautiful healthy daughter. I was a size 10 and had only gained 25 LBS during prignancy.  Less then a year later I was carrying my second daughter.  I had no appetite and could barely eat but was gaining 10 pds every other day.  My blood pressure soared and I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.  I have been sick ever since I gave birth.

In the past 20yrs I have put on over 150 lbs and I can’t get it off.  I was told I had a fatty liver and my cholesterol and triglicerites are off the chart.  I began having memory trouble even forgetting my daughters name, hair loss, blurred vision (even typing this is slow going so forgive any mistakes) I started falling, loosing bladder and bowel control, walk into walls, tables and door frames/   I’ve had bouts of blndness and layered viion (Multiple Sclerosis has been ruled out) chronic body and nerve pain, horrible mood swings from happy, depressed, anger, intolerance (it’s like a daily rollar coaster ride) SEVERE salt cravings, low body temp, heaviness in legs, bruising, infections, trouble healing, brain lesions., trouble sleeping.  Get cyst on my breast, head, ears and pubic area.  Have little hard bumps on pubic area that never go away.  No sex drive left for husband and even when we are active it’s very painful..  Major swelling in face, neck, legs and feet, backaches, headaches.  When I stand up I feel like I get a head rush or lightheaded and I flap my arms to stay up or I fall back into bed or chair.  I sweat even in winter.  I do have the buffalo hump, the stretch marks, the moon face, brain lesions and the discolored skin under breast,  behind neck and arm pits.

Dec. 6th I had a carbuncle which had develped staff and mrsa removed from my armpit.  My whole armpit had to be removed and a couple weeks later I developed an abcess and had to go back to surgery.  It has been 5 months and I still can’t heal.  Have been packing the wound every day and seeing the surgeon every 2 wks.  Now I have a carbuncle on the other side and I’m facing more painful surgery after this side heals.

Today I recieved a call that the urine test I took for cushings came back with normal levels.  Needless to say I sat down and sobbed.  I am 46 yrs old and I have been sick for half my life.  I have seen so may doctors, been through so many surgeries and painful testings.  I have been told over and over that there is something wrong but the Doctors can’t find it.  I thought cushings was the answer and that I could finally get treatment and get better.  I look in the mirror and I don’t recogize this person I see….How will I start over again on this long search for answers?  Where will I get the strength?

Gina M, Ectopic Bio

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I was diagnosed with Cushing Syndrome in June 1999.  At that time my urine cotisol level was 342.

Prior to being diagnosed I suffered for over 7 years with severe migraine headaches. I also had gained 80 lbs, had a moon face, buffalo hump, mood swings, severe fatigue (could sleep 20 out of 24 hours a day), aweful sweats day and night, weak muscles, thyroid disease.

I had pituitary surgery at Mass General because my state didn’t do that type of surgery.  After surgery, my levels were still elevated and I was diagnosed with diabetes insipidus.

When I returned home I underwent more tests ie. blood work, 24 hour urines. This continued for another year and during that time my endo put me on Ketakonazal in an attempt to lower my cotisol level to no avail. The medication just messed up my stomache.

In 2000 I had surgery again this time I had both adrenal glands removed. still no tumor had been found. That’s when the worst news of all came. I was told I had Ectopic Cushings Syndrome and had 5 years to live. The reason for this if you my not know is 50% of ectopic tumors end up being small cell lung cancer.

I was also diagnosed with Addison’s disease because of no more adrenals. Today it has been 13 years since my adrenal surgery and I am still alive and no cancer!

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