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Neuroendocrine Tumors (NET): Living with Cancer

Summary: Neuroendocrine tumors can cause digestive issues. Find out more about this manageable cancer.
Air Date: 10/5/16
Duration: 23:35
Host: Dr. Mike Fenster
Guest Bio: Cindy Lovelace, Executive Director, Healing NET Foundation
Cindy LovelaceCindy Francis Lovelace began a radio news career in Nashville at WKDA-WKDF in 1979, serving as a Capitol Hill reporter, then Program Director/News Anchor. In 1995, she became Director of Promotions at WKDF/WGFX radio, and was promoted to Director of Marketing and Promotions for WKDF/WGFX/Titans Radio when the company purchased the rights to Tennessee Titans Radio Network in 1998.  

During her radio career, Lovelace launched several large scale concert events involving national artists, and worked with the Nashville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to help re-brand the Music City July 4 event. In 2010, after 32 years in the broadcast business, she launched a business as an event marketing consultant.  

In 2011, she accepted a position as Director of Development for the T. J. Martell Foundation office in Nashville, a national organization that raises monies for cancer research. She led the organization’s efforts in Nashville to raise $2 million over a two year period, chiefly through artist-related events.

Lovelace was diagnosed the same year with neuroendocrine (NET) cancer due to an incidental scan. She was already a breast cancer survivor (2005) and expected a protocol for treatment, but her oncologist had no information. Following surgery to resect the tumor in her pancreas, she learned six months later that Steve Jobs died after battling NET cancer. Lovelace literally found Dr. Eric Liu in a google search that night, learning he was in the same city and had opened a NET clinic at Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center. Not only did she learn a lot about the cancer, she was one of the first patients to participate in the first Gallium 68 clinical trial opened by Dr. Liu in the U. S. This scan revealed additional tumors in her liver, which are now managed with a combination of surgery and medicine. Lovelace teamed up with Dr. Liu to co-found The Healing NET Foundation (HNF), which funds programs to better educate the general medical community about NET cancer, and empowers patients to advocate for their care through the health system. Dr. Liu is the Chief Medical Advisor of HNF, and is now affiliated with The Neuroendocrine Institute at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers (RMCC) in Denver, CO.

Lovelace was recently named one of six nominees for the Hero of Hope™ Patient Award given by CONQUER: The Patient Voice™ magazine in partnership with the Academy of Oncology of Nurse & Patient Navigators® (AONN) in recognition of her commitment to the cancer patient community in spite of obstacles as a patient.

Lovelace and her husband Gene reside in Old Hickory, Tennessee (Nashville area) and together have four children, four grandchildren, and enjoy travel, and sailing on the lakes of Tennessee and Kentucky. 

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Neuroendocrine Tumors (NET): Living with Cancer
Neuroendocrine tumors (NET) are a cancer appearing anywhere in the body that affects the hormones. It is sometimes referred to as cancer of the body location where it is discovered. For example, "cancer of the liver."

NET is sometimes called carcinoid syndrome. Tumors are typically found in the gastrointestinal tract or lungs, but they can also be found in other organs of the endocrine system.

Symptoms include chronic diarrhea, flushing, shortness of breath, and symptoms of other chronic diseases like Crohn’s or IBS. It can take four to six years to accurately diagnose.

NET is a slow-growing cancer. If caught early enough, it can be managed like a chronic disease.

There are injectable hormone inhibitors to help manage carcinoid syndrome. They may slow the growth of the tumor.

Another treatment involves radioactive beads being injected into the liver to help manage the disease. New techniques are being developed to help people live with NET.

Since NET can cause digestive difficulty, diet is key to comfort. The Mediterranean diet is advised. Eating a plant-based diet can help. Organic food can reduce the distress that may be caused by pesticides. It’s important to pay attention to how your body reacts to food and refine your diet based on the reactions.

Listen in as Cindy Lovelace, Executive Director of Healing NET Foundation, shares her personal experience with NET and discusses how to manage it.


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