Lisa Anderson is a “mother on a mission” determined to help others avoid a long and excruciating journey toward a pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma diagnosis. After seeking answers for nearly 5 years that would explain her college-aged son’s debilitating symptoms (headaches, blood pressure swings, irregular heartrate, sweating, nausea, vomiting and extreme panic/anxiety), a suspicion of a pheochromocytoma tumor was finally discovered through incidental testing by a gastroenterologist who ordered an ultrasound to investigate a potential gallbladder issue. The time from diagnosis to tumor removal surgery became a whirlwind of searching PubMed articles about pheo, coordinating with the surgical team, cross-checking every well-intended medication, and caring for her precariously sick son who required 24-hour hospital care until the surgery date.
After learning a blood and/or urine test to check metanephrine levels when the symptoms first appeared could have signaled this adrenal tumor, Lisa has made it her mission to look for ways to raise awareness about this disease with health care providers. She has found a place with Pheo Para Alliance (PPA) to channel her energies. Throughout her more than 30-year career at the Fred Hutchingson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, Lisa has had the opportunity to cultivate relationships with physicians, scientists, residents, fellows, administrators, and volunteers with whom she worked collaboratively to support cancer research with special emphasis on patient needs. She hopes to use her experience in health care administration and knowledge of health care systems to access an array of medical professionals and organizations to remind them to “think about pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma” so that others will not have to endure an unnecessary and potentially dangerous delay in diagnosis.
Lisa holds a BA in Spanish from the University of Washington, and a Masters in Teaching from Western Governor’s University. When she’s not happily volunteering with the PPA, she loves substitute teaching at the local elementary school, road trips, and playing golf with her husband and two sons.