What Could Have Caused My Pituitary Tumor?

Paris Dancy avatar

by Paris Dancy |

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Usually, when we ask a question, we receive an answer. But for those of us dealing with pituitary tumors and Cushing’s disease, one of the hardest parts is that there often aren’t answers.

While struggling with my pituitary adenoma in 2015, I constantly asked myself, “How did this happen?” I often thought about the head trauma I suffered as an athlete. Between ages 14 and 20, I had four concussions. Did the frequent head-on collisions I experienced while playing football cause my tumor?

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I also wondered if I had consumed or been exposed to something that could have contributed to my health issues. At one point, I reflected on all the places I had lived or visited, and tried to recount all of my interactions. Had I been around anyone who suffered from the same symptoms I did, such as memory loss, weight gain, sleep issues, low energy, difficulty focusing, and behavioral changes? This line of questioning didn’t turn up anything promising, so I focused on another area: stress.

I didn’t realize how much stress would result from working in social services. My career started at an inpatient mental health facility, where the patients were often feeling their worst at check-in.

After a brief career change, I became a social services investigator for the state. In this position, I was under the most stress I have ever experienced. I couldn’t leave my work at the office. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, and constantly double-check my work to ensure I hadn’t made a mistake that would end up costing someone their life. Did all this stress play a role in the development of my pituitary tumor?

These questions haunt me to this day. The neurosurgeon who performed my transsphenoidal surgery to remove my tumor in 2015 has always maintained an open and honest line of communication with me. He couldn’t give me a definitive answer as to the cause of my pituitary tumor, but he was clear that it’s important for me to keep my stress level low.

I may not have had control over the onset of my Cushing’s disease, but I do have control over how I move forward.


Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.


Pamela Kristen Barrows avatar

Pamela Kristen Barrows

I too wonder what caused my Cushing's Disease especially since I was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Fatimah avatar


I often wonder the same thing! Is stress the cause of pituitary tumors? I've heard that others have this same thought process. I am just wondering how do you manage to keep your stress level low?

lucie avatar


jus wondering fellow Cushing recovery peops -how have u lost the extra weight? been 6yrs & lost 30kilos very hard going, would luv to loose another 20 jus prob another 6yrs eh grr :<

Rebecca Heady avatar

Rebecca Heady

I wonder if it is related. To my having parathyroid tumors about 20 years earlier

Emily Purdin avatar

Emily Purdin

Hi Paris,
This is Emily Purdin from Portland, OR. I am a Cushing's Disease patient in recovery for 9 months. It took 2 years to be diagnosed but I believe the Pituitary tumor had grown for 8 years. Also, treatment was delayed due to Covid because the stimulant drug for testing was discontinued by pharma company. (Medical history began with Leukemia at 3, Thyroid cancer at 30, Paraganglioma tumor in neck at 42, then Cushings at 43.) IT NEVER ENDS. I have proven time and again that I am resilient; it takes everything I've got.
Hi from Emily....I am terrified that my Hydrocortisone and Levothyroxine won't be available and then what?
I am a Landscape Designer and trained Therapeutic Horticulturalist. So plants have been my go to for reducing stress levels and building confidence that I can still work in my garden. Having lots of time to think, I have changed my mission to help become a new "Emily" and do what I can do and help design gardens for people living with disabilities, aging in place, and making safe spaces to get outside in a safe environment. I just keep reminding myself that my Cushing's experience gives me even more insight to help others in my community.
Thanks Paris for sharing during the zoom talk. Please pass along any thoughts you have. Always happy to keep the conversation going.

Em Purdin
[email protected]


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