Kiko Matthews, Pituitary Cushing’s Survivor Solo Rows Atlantic to Raise £100K For Hospital That Saved Her Life

Adapted from an article at http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/24/ex-teacher-is-rowing-across-the-atlantic-solo-to-raise-money-for-hospital-who-cured-her-brain-tumour-6773756/

You’d imagine if you’d never set foot in a rowing boat before, apart from, say, an abortive attempt in a boating lake age 9, that you would set yourself a fairly tame goal for your first challenge when you did finally take up the sport.

Not so Kiko Matthews. The science teacher-turned-paddle board instructor and adventurer, this time last year a total beginner in a rowing boat, set herself the challenge of rowing solo across the Atlantic – before she’d actually picked up an oar.

Not only does she plan to raise £100,000 for King’s College Hospital with the row – after they saved her life when she was struck with a rare disease – but she plans to break the female world record for a solo Atlantic crossing while she’s doing it.

The previous record for a woman rowing solo across the Atlantic is 56 days, the male record is 35.

Kiko plans to do it in 45, taking 11 days off the current female record.

Her determination and dedication indicate that she’ll do it too.

She has been training daily for 7 months since she made the vow (she hadn’t even been drinking when she made it, she tells me) in order to smash the record for the 3,000-mile trip.

On the way she will encounter storms, freezing nights, scorching hot days, sharks – and a whole lot of solitude. ‘I have to be skipper, medic, my own best friend – and, sometimes, no doubt, my own worst enemy,’ she says.

She’ll have an emergency button in case of crisis — and not much else, besides her equipment and her ego.

A rigorous regime of on-land and on-water rowing, circuits, weights and cross-training with cycling and running is preparing her for the 16 hours a day of rowing she’ll have to put in to make the record crossing.

The months of 4am wake-up calls are, as you’ll see from her Facebook and Instagram posts, made somewhat easier by incredible sunrises, sunsets and glass-like oceans, but they are nonetheless gruelling.

However, they will have set her up for what will be six sleep-deprived weeks where she will try to shoehorn what sleep she can – a four-hour chunk and a few cat naps throughout the day – into the eight hours she has to eat and rest when she is not rowing.

No matter how much work she is putting in, the challenge is ambitious — but her chances are improved immeasurably not only by her tenacity (you have to meet her to believe it) but the fact that the boat she is using for the crossing is the same one that was used by the current male solo Atlantic World Record holder, Charlie Pitcher.

He set the new record for solo male crossing in 2013, taking 35 days to row the 3,000 miles in the carbon-hulled, 6.5m ocean rowing boat Soma of Essex.

His boat was the first of its kind to have the rower facing backwards into the waves rather than rowing forward, which made the boat far more aerodynamic and helped him to shave 5 days off the previous 40-day record.

And, as Kiko says, ‘when you’re in the middle of the Atlantic with nothing for miles either side, you don’t really need to see where you’re going anyway.’

Now, Pitcher has not only lent Kiko his record-breaking boat, but he’s helping to train her too. And, having been exposed to the whirlwind that is Kiko Matthews, he is confident she can achieve her goal.

‘I met Kiko at a charity function we were both involved with and we just hit it off immediately, like we had known each other for years,’ he says. ‘I wanted to lend her the boat because I believe she has what it takes to smash this, and not many others do,’ he says.

‘To break a tough world record like this, you need all the right tools in your bag. Kiko has the full house.’

The mammoth physical undertaking is all the more impressive when you understand how far Kiko has come health wise.

The once fit young woman was so rapidly debilitated by this mystery disease she had to drag herself upstairs on her hands and knees, yet doctors could not find out what was wrong.

Unlike most people with Cushing’s, who experience the condition worsening over a long period, sometimes years, the size of Kiko’s tumour meant the symptoms were aggressive and dramatic.

As she deteriorated, she was quickly referred to King’s College Hospital where she lay for a month believing she would die before doctors were able to diagnose Cushing’s.

Even then, her potassium levels were too low for her to survive surgery so she was taken to intensive care unit until she was strong enough for doctors to operate and remove the tumour.

Kiko says now that those were her darkest times. ‘I couldn’t see, I couldn’t speak properly or think. I was too weak to move,’ she says.

Ultimately, the disease could have proved fatal. But with the tumour finally removed, the levels of cortisol in her blood reduced from 3,000 mcg/dL to 30 mcg/dL in three days.

Within five, the brain fluid stopped dripping from her nose, the swelling in her body had gone down, her memory returned and diabetes and other symptoms vanished.

Soon after her recovery, Kiko left her role as a science teacher to set up SupKiko, a company teaching paddle boarding, and a charity, The Big Stand, that gives opportunities to young people and those with mental health problems.

While she still leads paddle boarding groups, most of her time is now spent training for the Atlantic crossing, which sets off from the Canary Islands in January.

….

Ironically, both the challenge and fundraising attempt for KCH has added poignancy now.

A few months into her training, Kiko began to feel ‘strange’ symptoms and, as they developed, she began to suspect the return of Cushing’s.

An MRI detected a 3mm tumour on her pituitary gland, confirming her fears, and she found herself back at King’s where Kiko says that the doctors, who remembered her aggressive and rare case 8 years ago, have been ‘fantastic’.

She is booked for surgery on 1 August when surgeons will go in through her nose to remove the tumour quickly so that she can continue her training.

‘With the help of an amazing team of nurses and doctors, I’ll be 100% fine for my row in January. I’ll make sure I am,’ she says.

‘The tumour returning has only made me even more determined to break the record and raise the money,’ she says.

‘The doctors will have saved my life not once, but twice.’

Read the entire article at http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/24/ex-teacher-is-rowing-across-the-atlantic-solo-to-raise-money-for-hospital-who-cured-her-brain-tumour-6773756/

We’re 17 Years Old!

happybirthday-2015

It’s unbelievable but the idea for Cushing’s Help and Support arrived 17 years ago last night.  That’s a long time for anything online.

I was talking with my dear friend Alice, who ran a wonderful menopause site called Power Surge, wondering why there weren’t many support groups online (OR off!) for Cushing’s and I wondered if I could start one myself and we decided that I could.

The first website (http://www.cushings-help.com) first went “live” July 21, 2000 and the message boards September 30, 2000. Hopefully, with these sites, I’m making some helpful differences in someone else’s life!

The message boards are very active and we have weekly online text chats, occasional live interviews, local meetings, email newsletters, a clothing exchange, a Cushing’s Awareness Day Forum, podcasts, phone support and much more.

Whenever one of the members of the boards gets into NIH, I try to go to visit them there. Other board members participate in the “Cushie Helper” program where they support others with one-on-one support, doctor/hospital visits, transportation issues and more.

Of course, we now have a Facebook page and 2 groups.  Both are secret, so if you want to join, please email  or PM me for an invitation.

Other sites in the Cushing’s Help “Family”

 

maryo colorful zebra

A Retrospective Review of 34 Cases of Pediatric Pituitary Adenoma

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to study invasiveness, tumor features and clinical symptoms of pediatric pituitary adenoma, and to discuss some inconclusive results in prior studies.

Methods

We retrospectively reviewed 34 cases of children (<20 year-old) who were pathologically diagnosed with pituitary adenoma and surgically treated from 2010 to 2017. Data of general information, clinical symptoms, invasive behaviors, surgery approaches, and tumor features were collected and analyzed.

Results

Sixteen boys and 18 girls aged from 12 to 19 years old were included. Prolactinoma was most suffered, followed by GH-, none- and ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma. Invasive behaviors were observed frequently and suprasellar extensions were most found. Macroadenoma account 70% of all cases. Meanwhile, unlike prior studies, a significant raise of incidence on invasive tumor and pituitary adenoma apoplexy were observed. Craniotomy and transsphenoidal surgery were both applied with zero mortality. Nine cases occurred with transient hypopituitarism and diabetes insipidus. Three cases of tumor recurrence received secondary surgery or radiotherapy.

Conclusions

Invasive behaviors were more frequent than previous prediction. Craniotomy is worth considering for total tumor removal. Pituitary adenoma apoplexy needs further studies since its different features between children and adults in present study. Specialized care and teamwork of neurosurgeons, pediatricians, and endocrinologists are important.

Keywords

Pediatric pituitary adenoma Invasion Pituitary apoplexy Transsphenoidal surgery 

Yes, You Need a Medical Alert Bracelet!

Shared with permission from https://aiunited.org/medicalbracelets/

Advice from a Volunteer Firefighter with Adrenal Insufficiency

My name is Jeannie, and I have been diagnosed with Secondary AI since March of 2015. To make a long story short, I was diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma in Feb of 2015. It was apron 8mm x 10mm at the time wit was found. On April 25th, 2015 I was getting ready for work in the early morning hours.. I passed out in my bathroom and was immediately rushed to the hospital by my husband. They did a secondary MRI and found that the tumor had tripled in size to 23mm x almost 41mm. My Cortisol was also so low it was undetectable by the lab. I was taken by ambulance to Emory University hospital in Atlanta where the Neurosurgeon I had been in consult with was. I arrived there on Sunday and was in Surgery Wednesday Morning. The surgery took 9 hours and recovery was close to 6.

Prior to this all taking place I was a volunteer firefighter, and had worked EMS for almost 16 years. I have been in nearly every situation possible. I see so many people that have our condition asking about Medic Alert bracelets, What kind they should have, what it should say on it, etc. So I have put together a short list to help out a little bit. This is coming from both someone who has this extremely rare disease, and also from the Emergency Medical Side of me. Knowing what We as medics look for in the field, How quickly things move, what we ask or need to know, etc.

Please know that this IS NOT Professional Medical advice, But this is advice coming from someone who can shed some light on how to potentially save your life if you should ever be alone, or without anyone who knows your condition and you fall unconscious or are unable to the the responders what your condition is.

First off if you are looking for a medic alert bracelet or wondering if you should get one.

**The answer is yes, If you have been diagnosed ANY TYPE of adrenal insufficient or are on replacement medication.. YES. you need one.**

Here are some of those reasons and some pointers on what they should look like / what they should say.

#1– If you are found unconscious, and there are not bystanders around to tell emergency crews what is wrong with you, You will go longer without your steroids. If we see on your bracelet that you are steroid dependent, it dissolves the ENTIRE guessing game of why you’re unconscious.

#2– It should have on there your emergency contact and a GOOD telephone number. That way if nothing else. We can call them. NOT EVERY EMS AGENCY HAS ACCESS TO THE “CLOUD” BASED SYSTEMS THAT STORE YOUR INFO. Please be sure that if your emergency contacts number changes.. You change it on your bracelet. There is nothing worse than wasted time calling a number that doesn’t belong to the person we NEED to talk to.

#3– DO NOT MAKE IT “PRETTY” OR “NOT SO OBVIOUS”. I can not stress this enough. Ladies I know that you want the cute ones that look like normal bracelets, and have pretty charms, etc on them… THE ENTIRE point of a medical alert bracelet is that someone needs to see it and know that they should look at it. If it looks like a regular bracelet or regular necklace and it isn’t obvious within the first 3 seconds once we get to you and look in the obvious places (neck/wrist). it will NOT get seen. I promise you, we are too busy trying to play the guessing game of why you are not responding, than to take a look at every single piece of regular jewelry and see if it might have a really small inscribing of what is wrong with you. Once again. Make it noticeable. We will see that we need to look at it. Once we do. The guessing game is more than likely OVER. and we can begin to treat you appropriately.

#4– Most EMT’s and Paramedics Don’t Understand or know about Addisons or the treatment involved. If nothing else, carry a letter from your doctor explaining what is wrong with you, etc. It is very rare, and NOT covered in most Paramedic courses. So please, for those of you that put “ADRENAL INSUFFICIENT” on your bracelet and NOT “STEROID DEPENDENT” please keep in mind that you may end up with the Paramedic that just graduated, is nervous, and will mistake adrenal insufficiency for Adrenaline insufficiency.. and try to give you epinephrine. Please understand that I have seen this almost happen. It is something that is easily misunderstood in the heat of the moment.

#5– If you have an emergency injection that you carry with you all the time, on your person, or somewhere close. PUT ON THERE THAT YOU HAVE IT! MOST ems agencies have standing protocol that they can assist with emergency medications (Don’t jump in here if you are one of those states that doesn’t allow it.. I said most) That way if we find you down, and look at your bracelet, AND see that you have emergency meds with you… guess what now, not only is the guessing game over, You’re ALSO getting the RIGHT EMERGENCY MEDS, instead of us having to either give you what we carry, or you having to wait until you get to the ER and the ER doc has to go through your file and figure out that you need the medication that’s been in your pocketbook the ENTIRE TIME.If you are unsure if your state allows this, or if you Local EMS agency can do this. Contact their local medical control and ask. If they do, Please offer to give a small talk on what the disease is and how to use the emergency kit. Most will know once they see the acto-vial, but if they do not, Please educate them. Explain to them that it can be the only thing that could save your life.

Please take the time and make sure that you have correct information on your bracelet. Secondary or Primary, the treatment in an Emergency situation is the same. So there is NO need for you to spell out if you are secondary or primary. Both get the emergency injection in case of a crisis. Both get fluid bolus, heart and blood pressure monitoring. Nothing is different when it comes to an emergency situation. If you have any questions on the wording or what to get on it. Be sure you at least have an emergency contact, That you are steroid dependent, and where your emergency injection is located.

IF you know that your local EMS agency uses the “cloud” for stored emergency info, you can spend the money to get it. But I worked for service that covered a county with over 100 sq miles, and we didn’t use it. It is unreliable and takes too much time to log in to the system, try to read the small number on your band, type it in, etc. When you can simply put the information on the band itself.

If you have any other further questions, You can refer to AIU’s emergency page.

Growth Hormone: Improving Patients’ Lives and Boosting Mature Product Portfolios

Jul 07, 2017
Volume 37, Issue 7

easypod—an automated drug delivery device manufactured by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany for its recombinant human growth hormone, Saizen—is the only electronic, fully automated injection device for growth hormone therapy. Its features include automated dose delivery and prescription tracking, which records injection history and any missed injections, and allows patients to know when to change their cartridge by displaying how much medicine is left in the device.

Speaking to Pharm Exec, Merck KGaA’s Chief Operating Officer of Biopharma, Simon Sturge, outlines the device’s development and highlights its position in the context of a changing treatment-adherence landscape that could bring benefits both to patients and mature product portfolios.

PE: Are digital interventions in patient adherence becoming more of a focus at your company?

STURGE: Absolutely. We are a major player in the area of diabetes, for example, and as we all know, lifestyle has a huge impact on the outcome of diabetes. How much we as a company should be able to offer a whole package that helps to support the lifestyle changes needed is a very important element of us preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes. In other areas, many people who are sick have a degree of depression. There are excellent apps that are reimbursed in some countries to help treat depression, and those sorts of things should be offered as part of a solution. We believe it is an essential part of our business to look holistically at the patient and bring to that patient as many practical things as possible to help them overcome their disease.

However, innovative drugs are also at the core of what we do. A few years ago, we established a clear strategy of driving innovation in the area of specialty products. This has taken quite some time from an R&D perspective, but it is now coming to fruition, with a focus on the areas of oncology, immuno-oncology, and immunology. We have a number of exciting innovative products coming to market, and what we’re also seeing is substantial growth on the portfolio of our established products, one of which is our growth hormone, Saizen.

PE: How much did you incorporate patients’ adherence behaviors in developing easypod?

STURGE: Quite a few of our products are biotech products that need to be given via injection. Understanding the patient need around that product, how they inject, what the issues are, particularly for children, has helped drive our e-health and digital platform. We have a number of different applications around our growth hormone product, but the most sophisticated is easypod. The device sends administration data such as time and dose to the cloud via a mobile device or home network, and then shares that data with the treating physician or carer, to be able to understand the usage of that product.

There are digital ways that you can track people and their activities, of course, but what we’ve found is that you can’t beat having somebody almost living with a patient. In some circumstances we do that. We use an external group, and they send an observer to stay with a family for several days to really understand the practical issues that surround the use of the product. It’s those kinds of insights that really help to provide solutions that are practical and that address genuine issues that the patient wants to overcome.

Adherence in using an injectable product in a chronic environment can be very low, as low as 25%, but we’ve seen in controlled studies that with easypod that we can take that up to close to 90%.

[Ramy Sourial, growth hormone franchise director at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, adds: We worked with patient organizations and healthcare providers at different stages of planning the device, and we used focus groups and market researchers to identify the needs. During development, we conduct regular tests to check that we are on the right track. And when the product is on the market, we continue to improve the device, even small things like designing covers and designing smaller needles.]

PE: Can this higher adherence be sustained in a real-world setting?

STURGE: We’re moving to very elegant devices, more universal devices; physicians and caregivers are becoming a lot more comfortable using the data that is generated. Where the big transition needs to take place is still with the payers. The NHS (National Health Service) is one of the most sophisticated providers in terms of understanding usage of products on a more holistic basis and has a willingness to work with the pharma industry on pricing and payment mechanisms that ultimately link efficacy with payment. As governments, payers, and the industry work more closely together, this will be of benefit to all parties and especially patients.

Our responsibility as a pharma company is broader than just supplying the drug. We have worked with the NHS on schemes where they only pay if the drug is used. If adherence levels are low, they don’t pay. In some of the pilot schemes with the NHS in a real-world setting, we were getting those adherence rates of close to 90%; we think that is quite achievable in everyday use. But there’s always things you can add, adding digital gains into these things to encourage children to use these devices on a daily basis; it’s a dynamic process and our aim is to try and maintain these increased adherence rates.

PE: What would you say are the remaining challenges in patient adherence?

STURGE: One of the biggest challenges we face is data privacy, the different data privacy laws country by country. If you end up having to develop software that has to be different in every country, it becomes less meaningful. Respecting and understanding data privacy but having a broader global alignment on data privacy laws in our industry will help everybody.

It will remain a sticking point for quite some time; it’s a highly complex and politically emotive subject, for very good reasons. But our concern isn’t around data privacy, per se—it’s consistency of the regulations thereof.

 

Julian Upton is Pharm Exec’s European and Online Editor. He can be reached at julian.upton@ubm.com

From http://www.pharmexec.com/improving-patients-lives-and-boosting-mature-product-portfolios

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