"I can't talk about "IT". That makes it too real. "IT" is scary.
"IT" is scary. It really is, unless you know what "IT" is.
"IT" is a pheochromocytoma. Pheochromocytoma is pronounce fee-o-kroe-moe-sy-toe-muh. We like to call it a "pheo", for short, around here.
A pheo is a rare, usually noncancerous (benign) tumor that develops in cells in the center of an adrenal gland. Often, the adrenal gland is removed along with the tumor. A pheo can vary in size. Some are small (golf ball size or smaller), some are large (soda can size or larger).
If left untreated, a pheo can result in severe or life-threatening damage to other body systems, especially the cardiovascular system. This is why they are surgically removed.
A pheo releases chemicals, known as catecholamines, into the bloodstream. The catecholamines are what cause the symptoms of a pheo. Removing the pheo, stops the catecholamines.
Once a pheo is removed, it rarely comes back.
How do I talk about "IT" with my friend/family member?
You talk about "IT", the pheo, as normally as you would talk to your friend/family member any other time. They're sick, but they're the same person they've been. They've been sick for awhile, the only difference is that now you know about it.
If your friend/family member isn't in the mood to talk about it, don't press it. If they want to talk about it, listen. They may be very afraid of what's happening or they may not fully understand. If they have questions, try to find the answers for them. Don't lie to them. If they want the facts, give them the facts. Direct them to this page or our Facebook page to meet other pheo patients that they can relate to.
Just remember, "IT" is not a scary thing.
"IT" is a pheo, and your family member/friend is not alone in this journey. Stand beside them, be encouraging, and be supportive. It's the best thing you can do.
"IT" isn't scary, if you know what "IT" is. Educate yourself on understanding what a pheochromocytoma is, and what your friend or relative is going through.