Glenn Dempsey

My name is Glenn Dempsey and I am 43 years old from Brisbane.

I grew up in a coastal town of NSW called Forster, three hours north of Sydney and played all types of sports from cycling, surf lifesaving, squash, hockey to surfing. I have always been extremely fit and healthy and always outgoing and wanting to be a positive influence with others around me. In Feb 2001 I moved to Brisbane and secured a good job that has afforded me many growth opportunities to develop my career and further as a person. It was this time that the Brisbane Lions were like superstars and won the first of three premierships that I knew I moved to the right city.

On 9th July 2012 out of the blue I woke up with my heart racing, skipping, in a cold sweat, chronic stabbing pains with blood pouring out of me. I was rushed to Redland Bay Hospital for many tests before I was transferred to another hospital (Greenslopes Private Hospital) for every test/scan possible before it was discovered I as a text book case of having a rare tumour inside me called a Pheochromocytoma.

Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumour of adrenal gland tissue. It results in the release of too much epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that control heart rate, metabolism, and blood pressure. Symptoms include headache (usually severe), excessive sweating, generalised racing of the heart (tachycardia, palpitations), anxiety/ panic attacks, nervous shaking, tremors, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, pain in the lower chest and upper abdomen, weakness, fever, heat intolerance, sugar intolerance, and sometimes low blood pressure when standing up.

I was assigned one of Queensland’s best cardiologists Dr Nik Nikwan who is an Australian-based health professional. Nik is trained as a Cardiologist (Heart Specialist) and also Dr Andrew Barbour from Ramsay Specialist Centre, Greenslopes Private Hospital. I decided being so positive, I had to have surgery and have the tumour removed and anything else that needed to be removed.

My blood pressure spiked to stroke and heart attack territory (192/127) which was very abnormal for someone who was 41 years old and very fit. Further tests (X-rays, CT scans, MRI scan, blood tests, 24 hour urine tests (catecholamines) and nuclear medicine scans over a period of two weeks) revealed that I had a tumour in my left adrenal gland the size of 9.5cm which was causing my blood pressure to rise. With this type of condition the is a mortality rate in operations, when you have no idea you have this condition it is 50/50 so I am very lucky to be here with a 10% chance of malignancy. My tumour was malignant. Many of you would have heard cases of people collapsing and dying on the sporting field due to heart attacks etc & many cases go undetected because this condition is so rare and the symptoms are passed off as normal. The tumour is called pheochromocytoma and it is a silent killer.

What I am trying to say is that this tumour can be in your body and you have no idea about it.  It can be hereditary and it has deadly consequences.  If you experience headaches, excessive sweating and increased heart rate and high blood pressure then I encourage you to see your doctor because it may save your life. Such tumours like this do not discriminate, you can get them at anytime, so please put your health first.

A huge thank you to my wife Sarah, as the support she gave me pre/post was outstanding and without it would have made life so much harder, all the medical staff at Greenslopes Private Hospital, the CEO for coming to visit me, my cardiologist Nik and surgeon Andrew for getting the diagnoses very quickly so I can continue to pursue my dreams. I now have a goal that i want to raise money and make people aware of a rare tumour on the adrenal gland called a Pheochromocytoma.

The Unicorn Foundation supports neuroendocrine tumours (NETS) and cancers and is looking at raising money for research into such rare tumours. To assist in raising money for research and making people more aware, help by donating money to something that i knew nothing about and now something that i am passionate about giving back to the community and helping the Unicorn Foundation



Patient Stories

Kristen Leknius

After almost 5 years of misdiagnoses, Kristen was diagnosed with NETs at only 43 years of age. Kristen’s initial diagnosis was grim, thankfully a second opinion and access to PRRT treatment successfully reduced her tumour and gave Kristen a second chance at life.

Demi Gough

On the 8th of October 2019 I found out I was expecting my second child. Less than two weeks later I was rushed in for emergency surgery for appendicitis. Two weeks after the surgery I was diagnosed with a NET inside my removed appendix

Michael Doyle

The more I read and understood about PRRT I just kept thinking why aren’t I receiving this treatment? I have inoperable and incurable NETs so I wanted something to give me hope.

Mark Camilleri

When I got diagnosed with NETs it literally flipped my world upside down. I went from doing volunteer work, playing football, working 6 days a week and playing on my cars.