My book Becoming Sunny
Susan is now available in softcover! Please click on News above. My story is one many
of you can identify with – an uplifting look at a life that I am determined to
live well, despite all the obstacles I have been dealt. At the heart of the
story is the idea of LIVING with cancer. It took eight years to correctly
diagnose my rare disease, Carcinoid/ Neuroendocrine Tumors. Then, they said I
would die in just a few more years. That was eighteen years ago, and here I am!
How have I faired? Very well. Read the book to find out how I have lived a happy
life, even with cancer.
Would you help to spread the
positive word by telling your friends, by gifting the book, and by posting a
review for other readers on the
www.amazon.com/Becoming-Sunny-Susan page? We know how valuable a positive
recommendation can be.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
I am an advocate for Carcinoid Cancer
awareness and self-help support groups for Carcinoid patients and their
families.I am a survivor of a neuroendocrine cancer called
Carcinoid, diagnosed May 10, 1995,
and also Infiltrative Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) breast cancer, diagnosed
June 18, 1999.Fortunately for those of us with Carcinoid it is a slow growing cancer or
most of us would have died before the diagnosis was found.I
am thankful I have always been an optimist; I see the glass as half full and not
I call my quest for a diagnosis “The Trials and Tribulations of Sunny Susan”.In 1987 I was diagnosed as anemic, for the first and last time, no cause
was ever found, but I was told it was “stomach bleeding”. After
years of searching for cause of abdominal and stomach pain, during surgery for
an obstruction May 10, 1995,
I finally had a diagnosis - Carcinoid Cancer,
a slow growing neuro-endocrine cancer.
The previous six months I had lived on ice cream milk shakes, vomiting when
tried to eat anything else, in severe constant pain, and lost 62 pounds.I had bright red “flushing” of the face, neck, chest and arms, which
doctors ignored when my husband and I would mention this symptom.I would not have been flushing without metastasis in my liver.Over the years I consulted with several doctors, was admitted to the
hospital many times for partial bowel blockages, and underwent multiples tests
searching for answers.Testing included:
upper and lower GI’s, ultrasounds of liver, pancreas and abdomen, sigmoidoscopy,
colonoscopy, barium enema with air, cat scans of chest, abdomen, pelvis,
gastrointestinal endoscopy, stomach lining biopsy, liver biopsy, chest x-rays,
mammograms, hydrogen breath test, gall bladder surgery, small bowel
enteroclysis, and much blood work, but NEVER for the things that would have
shown the presence of a neuro-endocrine tumor (Chromogranin-A., Serotonin,
etc.).Since then I have had several bone density scans,
nuclear OctreoScans and heart echocardiograms.
What I found on the internet when I started my search in 1995 was mostly old,
and I refused to accept what I read -- that with a diagnosis
of Carcinoid I had only from
to 5 years to live.
It has been said that Carcinoid is a "looking good cancer" -- most of us look
healthy and others can not tell that we have a terminal disease; also Carcinoid
is one of the most costly cancers to treat -- because many people live with it
for years and / or decades, thus have long-term treatment costs.
I saw four doctors, in Arizona,
all were “wait and see – do nothing”.I had the same
"complaints" – pain various places, diarrhea,
constant severe fatigue, and weakness.
I was told many times
that Carcinoid is a “chronic illness” and to "learn to live with it". No, I
did not care to accept that passive role!
My search for cause of stomach and abdominal pain began in 1987 and did not end
until 1998 when I consulted in person with one of the worlds leading experts on
Carcinoid, Dr. Richard R. P. Warner, M.D., of New York City,
who turned my life around!
After my diagnosis and
treatment, I felt a very strong desire to assist others in their search for
information and in starting local self-help groups. Since I am a Type A
personality and have always reached out to assist others it was only normal for
me to share the information I had found through research with others.I have never been bored a day in my life and
never have enough hours in the day or days in the week. I now maintain 77
mailing-lists in my computer address book of people who either have Carcinoid or
a interest in Carcinoid. I send information to all of my mailing-lists when
new research papers by Carcinoid expert doctors, such as the doctors at this
conference, are available.
April 27, 1997, I
put up my web page http://www.carcinoidinfo.info.
I provide information for medical / drug databases, information from leading
Carcinoid doctors on how to treat and monitor Carcinoid, local Carcinoid support
groups, humor, books, Bluegrass music, prayer lists, travel, political issues,
Arizona information, cowboy poetry, and much more that may assist a person in
leading a full and active life while LIVING with Carcinoid;
and have links to information I wish had been on-line when I started my
research. I am happy to assist others in their quest for information and
understanding, not only from my page, but from the many links available; and in
starting local Carcinoid support groups for self-help.This page was
fifteen (15) years old, April 27, 2012, and my plan is to keep it updated for many many years to come. The Carcinoid Cancer
Inc. also put up their web page in April 1997 at:
In 1999 I assisted Bea in
the formation of the Capital Area Cancer Survivors (Maryland, Washington, D.C. &
Virginia) support group by speaking with her on the telephone, emailing her
ideas for setting up a group, suggesting topics that could be presented to a
group, and sharing names of some people living in her area for her to contact.Later I assisted in the formation of the local support groups in Arizona,
and other locations. I am happy to send
out how to organize and topics for discussion to anyone that asks me for
assistance. I list local support / self-help groups on my web page at:
In August 2001 I became a
board member of a new forming California Carcinoid Fighters (CalCF) self-help
support group.Although living in Arizona
I flew over monthly for the board meetings and programs. CalCF put on a large
international Carcinoid conference in Sept. 2003. Later I resigned from this
board and am concentrating my energy on my web page and replying to the email
pleas for help that are generated by my web page.
I believe anyone with a diagnosis
or ANY kind of cancer needs to be pro-active and assertive.
We may be assertive without being disagreeable.
The key is practicing “The Golden Rule”, being pleasant and nice to everyone at
all times, but being persistent and clear in saying what we want done,which reports we expect to receive, and asking questions. All doctors and their staff are people too, who must deal with stress and
a heavy work-load. Always be polite, smile, and nice to the
doctor, and his staff, we need them to be our friends and not dread seeing our
name on the appointment sheet.
Dr. Warner started me on Sandostatin
(octreotide acetate) in early 1998, switched to Sandostatin LAR (long acting
release) in 1999; added Interferon Alfa 2-b in 1999 and switched to Peg Intron-A
in 2003.This joint treatment, along with my second surgery
in October 1999, that included a liver resection, has me stable.
The CAT scans in December 1999 showed a nodule
at the base of my lung, which had not been there during the October 1999
surgery.I chose to wait as I had not been on Interferon
Alfa 2-b very long.The CAT scans in May 2000 were negative;
the nodule at the base of my lung was no longer there.I
feel the combination of Sandostatin LAR and Interferon Alfa 2-b (now Intron-A)
shrank the nodule and has kept everything under control since then, as all CAT
scans, done twice a year, are negative.
Routine testing is part of every person’s life
who is dealing with Carcinoid, and requires an aggressive doctor.Once each year I have mammograms and twice
each year I have CTs of
chest, abdomen and pelvis.Three times each
year we do testing of:
5-HIAA 24-hour urine test, Serotonin Serum, Serotonin Whole Blood, Tryptophan
and Chromogranin-A, plus CBC (complete blood count), Hepatic Profile, Lipid
Panel, Hemoglobin A1c, TSH, and any other test my local oncologist or internists
believes is necessary at the time.Monthly
we draw blood for a CBC and flush my Groshon porta catheter.
What I am doing in regard to my Carcinoid is
pro-active, and it is not right for everyone. We all must feel our own way as
to how we wish to take care of ourselves and our cancer; there are no right or
wrong ways, just different ways. This is what works for me; it may not work
December 2004, I was diagnosed with Type 2
Diabetes, so now have an additional challenge
regarding learning about a disease and managing
There have never been enough hours in the day
for me. I have no way of knowing how long I will have this level of GOOD
quality life (pain-free and having energy). My goal is to make the most of each
day, count my blessing, have some good “belly laughs”, assist others, and live
each day to its fullest enjoying each and every one. I fully expect to die of
“old age” and not “carcinoid” I remain optimistic about my future. As my
wonderful husband, Howard, says "each day is a gift"!
Feel free to drop me a line, if
you would like to "visit" or ask questions.
Mildred “Millie” Kowalski, of Novartis Oncology announced at the
Carcinoid Conference, in New Orleans, 9/22/2012 that I, Susan Anderson,
am the recipient of the 2012 Warner Advocacy Award. I was sorry that we
were unable to attend. I am honored and thrilled to receive this very
meaningful award! Dr. Richard R. W. Warner, at my request, accepted
this award on my behalf.
THE 2012 WARNER ADVOCACY AWARD WINNER
"SUNNY" SUSAN L. ANDERSON
SHINING A LIGHT ON CARCINOID/NETS THROUGH
EDUCATION, SUPPORT, AND A PASSION FOR LIFE
Susan L. Anderson, or "Sunny" Susan as she's
affectionately known, has dedicated her life to
people affected by carcinoid/neuroendocrine
tumors (NETs) and has become an energetic
advocate for, and educator of, the disease. Her
journey began on May 10, 1995, when she was
diagnosed with carcinoid cancer after an
8-year-long battle through one misdiagnosis
began researching the disease and soon learned there
wasn't much information available about NETs. Many
doctors believed patients with NETs had a short time
to live. Born with a self-proclaimed "type A"
personality, Susan refused to accept the supposed
facts. She says, "I was told by every doctor to
'learn to live with it.' Probably the average person
would accept that. I refused to and because of that
I'm still alive."
Through her research,
Susan discovered Monica Warner's website for the
Foundation. From that moment on, Susan Anderson,
Monica Warner, and Dr. Richard Warner formed a team
determined to bring attention to this uncommon
disease and advocated tirelessly for patients
Recognizing the need for greater patient support,
Susan created the first website about NETs by a
patient, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this
year. The site,
carcinoidinfo.info, continues its success in
assisting people affected by the disease, and has
more than 380,000 visitors. In addition to this
"labor of love," Susan has dedicated her time to
personally answering more than 100,000 e-mails,
assisting patients and caregivers from around the
world. Susan's in-depth relationships within the
carcinoid/NET community even allow her to refer
international patients to support groups in their
Susan has attended
numerous conferences throughout the world as a guest
speaker, including the first International Meeting
of Patient Self-Help Groups in Berlin, Germany. One
of her fondest memories is from 2009, when Dr.
Richard Warner invited Susan to take part in a
12-person panel of patients with carcinoid cancer at
the Patient Support Advisory Board meeting in New
York. When not attending conferences, Susan
participates in many boards and support groups, some
of which she has founded.
"Sunny" Susan has her nickname for a reason. Each
step of her journey has been accompanied by
unwavering optimism, determined energy, and an
incredible zest for life. It makes sense that her
daily goals are to "have some good 'belly laughs,'
assist others, and live each day to its fullest
enjoying each and every one."
Susan is honored to share recognition alongside
the late Monica Warner, the pioneer of Patient
Advocacy for NET patients who was also a dear
friend. The recognition also extends to amazing
patient advocates everywhere, including Maryann
Wahmann and Jan Naritomi-Hart, the 2010 and 2011
Warner Advocacy Award recipients, respectively.
Since my diagnosis my
husband and Ihave: spent two weeks on the ocean edge in
Kauai, Hawaii (1997), have
taken a two week cruise to and from
Alaska (2000), taken a two week
cruise to and from Hawaii (2004), in addition to other trips and activities. (Please see my
"Travel" section for the latest and also photographs.) In January
took a Mexican cruise with three gals from my Red Hat Society chapter, and in
March 2004 another friend (who also went on Mexican cruise) and I had a very high
energy, adventure trip to Costa Rica. My
husband and I enjoyed a winter 2005 trip to
Wyoming to dog sled, snow mobile, snow cat
with visits to Yellowstone National Park and Teton National Park, Wy (were also
there on 9/11/2001). In
Oct. 2005 we had the "trip if a lifetime"
two plus weeks in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
We then did a Whales and Wildlife Cruise in the Sea of
Cortez / Baja, Mexico in January 2006. We drove to the
Carcinoid Conference in Portland, OR, Sept. 2006 and took more than a month
coming home down the Oregon and California coasts.
During the summer of 2007 we enjoyed a
13 1/2 week driving trip to and from Alaska.
We frequently mention that each and every day of the Alaskan adventure was
wonderful! Later in 2008 we visited the Polar Bears
north of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.
We were gone February, March and early April 2009 for a great trip to
New Zealand and Australia! In January and early Feb.2010 we visited Iguascu Falls in
Brazil, cruised among the icebergs and penguins of
Antartica, also visited Argentina, Chile, the Falkland Islands, and
Uruguay. In July 2010 we went to
Easter Island, Chile, to observe the total solar eclipse (photos on
my TRAVEL page on this web site). We also visited:
Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, French Polynesia, in 2010,
and have a wonderful, but too short, time. In fall 2011 we did back
to back cruises, 11 day Baltic Sea and 19 day Re-Positioning cruise visiting:
Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Norway,
Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Greenland and
Nova Scotia, Canada ending in Fort Lauderdale,
With those trips
I have visited ALL 50
states of the USA, plus Canada, Mexico, France, Switzerland, England, Wales,
Costa Rica, Ecuador, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Falkland
Islands, Uruguay, Antartica, French Polynesian, Denmark, Sweden, Finland,
Russia, Estonia, Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Iceland and
Greenland. We "camp" (now in a small motorhome) here in Arizona, often taking
my husbands 10" telescope so he can take deep space photographs; we also
"camp" at Bluegrass Festivals and Bluegrass music camp-outs. We enjoy travel and the
out of doors, in addition to art, music, history, science, books and new technology.
We both like to learn new things all of the time. I am now trying to
return to my genealogy ..... scan photographs, autograph books, newspaper
articles and then "write" my autobiography mixed in with family history.
What is right for one person is NOT
correct for another one. But, I believe in "The Golden Rule" and try to
It has been said that Carcinoid is a "looking good cancer" -- meaning most of us
look very healthy, have good color and others can not tell when meeting us that
we have a terminal disease. It has also been said that Carcinoid is one of the
most costly cancers to treat -- because many people with it live for years and /
or decades, thus have long-term treatment costs. I have heard from people who
were diagnosed in the late 1960's and early 1970's which is encouragement for
all of us.
Daily I try to count my blessing , have at least one good "belly laugh" over
humor, review positive poems and good things to think about, and live each day
to its fullest enjoying each and every one! I remain optimistic about my
future! I have no way of knowing how long I will have this level of GOOD
quality life, but my goal is to make the most of it for as long as possible! As
my wonderful husband, Howard, says "each day is a gift"! + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
+ + + + + + + + + + + +
Personal survival (winner) stories, Websites & blogs
Many personal websites contain additional valuable information about
carcinoid and related neuroendocrine tumors --survivor stories --medical
information, support group schedules, patient conference schedules, treatment
tips, newsletters, reports from patient conferences, lecture transcripts,
videos, and much more. These websites range from personal and support group
sites both national and international.
La Grande Dame de Carcinoid
This is the first and oldest online personal website created in 1997. Susan
is a carcinoid patient and awareness advocate way beyond that time. Her
website has a wealth of information and should be one of the first personal
websites you should visit. She is a longtime Carcinoid and Breast Cancer
survivor with an aggressive approach to maintaining an active and lifestyle.
"I was diagnosed with Infiltrative Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) Breast Cancer on
June 18, 1999. There is NO connection to Carcinoid, this is completely
different! I had a lumpectomy, and did 33 sessions of radiation, but no
chemo. I went for mammogram every 6 months for 5 years and now go each year.
All is well. Getting those mammograms is very important, do it gals! More on
my web site
I am a 10 year survivor, but I do not like the word survivor, how about winner!" "Lead a full and active
life while LIVING with Cancer" is her motto. - You will find
many additional personal web-pages on her site as well as information and
links to medical/drug databases, support groups, humor, books, music, prayer
lists, travel, political issues, AZ info, cowboy poetry, and much more! READ MORE on Susan's Blog
What Monica Warner had on the web site … she added
“winner” in May 2009.
1996 --- when I first located others with
Carcinoid --- I have answered every email sent to me, although some replies were
delayed longer than I liked. I am NO longer able to reply to all e-mails due to
the volume and other things going on in my life (all good). I do love hearing
from others, but an unable to reply to all individually. I shall not forget my
many Carcinoid friends and of course shall reply to you … as time permits. This page was
fifteen (15) years old, April 27, 2012, and my plan is to keep it updated for many many years to come.
Since my husband "retired"
I am away from my computer for days, and sometimes, weeks at a time. Yes, there
is wireless internet and we have tried that a number of places. But, if I deal
with email when we are away from home then it is not a "restful vacation" for
use the SEARCH
capability at the top my pages. You may search for a word, a phrase, a drug, a
treatment, a book title or anything you can think of. You may search this site
only, or search the complete World Wide Web.
To speak with
please know you may call the “telephone information and support line” of the
Carcinoid Cancer Foundation, Inc. (CCF), Tuesday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 4
p.m. Eastern Time at 1-888-722-3132 (free) or 1-914-693-1001. “The
information and support line” is staffed by medical professionals. Mondays and
Fridays are research days, if you call then and do not reach a person do leave a
clear message. The Carcinoid Cancer Foundation’s (CCF) superb web site is at
CCF - Serving
the carcinoid/NETs patient and medical community for
more than forty
years (chartered in 1968) “Meets Extensive Standards of America’s
Most Experienced Charity Evaluator”
Better Business Bureau DISCLAIMER: I am a patient and NOT a medical
doctor or health care professional. I share information and links to
information that has been helpful to me and that I believe to be correct and
good, but I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information, except for MY
stories. I urge you not to rely only on this information but I believe
you should discuss your situation and information with your medical doctors
and/or other medical professionals.
"Sunny" Susan Anderson