Results tagged “Brain Cancer - Glioblastoma”

mistybaumann617.jpgBy Misty Baumann

On September 1, 2011, my husband, Phil Baumann was diagnosed with brain cancer, specifically glioblastoma multiforme, grade 4. We were devastated. We have an 11-year-old son, Colby, who needs his dad. We desperately wanted a cure, so we put our faith in God and MD Anderson. 
Undergoing a clinical trial for glioblastoma treatment
Phil underwent a brain surgery to remove the tumor, but six months after the second one, in 2012, doctors found another brain tumor. 

We opted not to have another surgery and instead took our chances with a different route for glioblastoma treatment -- a clinical trial that uses a virus called Delta-24-RGD. The virus spreads through the tumors until there is no cancer cells left. Delta-24-RGD is engineered to force tumor cells to devour themselves. 

DeborahBritting515.jpgWhen it comes to health, Deborah Britting has one message for others: Don't ignore potential symptoms. As a glioblastoma survivor, she's speaking from experience. Prior to last Spring, Deborah  had only occasional mild headaches. So last April,  when the right side of her head began aching nonstop, she knew something wasn't right.

She took some over-the-counter medicine but it didn't seem to relieve the pain as it always had in the past.

Deborah's glioblastoma diagnosis
When over-the-counter pills didn't work, Deborah's daughters urged her to go to the doctor.

Just a few days later, she fainted while standing at the kitchen sink. She could no longer put off a visit to the doctor.

That visit and a subsequent MRI  led to her brain tumor diagnosis: stage 4 glioblastoma, located just above her right ear. The headache had been a brain tumor symptom.

Originally, Deborah did not plan on seeking  a second opinion, but a nurse at her local hospital tried to change her mind.

By Elaine Eppright 

My beloved husband, Frank Eppright, suffered a seizure on Christmas Eve 2010. We learned two days later he had a malignant brain tumor -- a stage IV glioblastoma, the most aggressive type.  

Surgery and brain tumor treatment
On January 4, 2011, at a hospital in Kansas, Frank underwent a left frontal craniotomy, the most common type of brain surgery for a tumor. The doctors removed 100% of the malignant tumor from his brain. But, since brain tumor cells are always lurking, Frank was given only 12 to 14 months to live.    

We wanted a second opinion and knew MD Anderson is renowned for diagnosing and treating all cancers. So we met neuro-oncologist Mark R. Gilbert, M.D., a few weeks later. Dr. Gilbert prescribed radiation therapy, chemotherapy and frequent MRIs. Frank underwent 30 radiation sessions while also taking the chemotherapy drug Temodar.

Q&A: Focus on brain surgery

Sujit Prabhu.JPGBy Sujit Prabhu, M.D.

Brain surgery requires precision and excellent judgment on part of the neurosurgeon for good patient outcomes. We neurosurgeons try to remove as much of the brain tumor as possible and return patients to their full functional capacity.

The most common type of brain surgery for a tumor is a craniotomy. On average, this operation, takes four to six hours. Below, I've answered some common questions about brain surgery. 

How do you decide if a brain tumor patient needs surgery?

The decision depends on the patient's brain tumor symptoms, the tumor location and the type of tumor, if known. In a small number of patients with certain benign tumors no surgery is required. In most instances, however, we make the decision to operate at the initial visit and schedule the operation within seven to ten days.   

What are the pre-operative procedures and medications for a craniotomy?

degroot213.jpgBy John de Groot, M.D. 

Ever heard of gliomas? These primary brain tumors arise within the brain, but we don't know the cell of origin.

There are multiple grades of gliomas -- grade II, III and IV, with grade IV being the most malignant. 

Grade IV tumors are called glioblastoma. They are the most aggressive and are very infiltrative - they spread into other parts of the brain quickly. Glioblastomas don't metastasize outside of the brain.  

Glioblastomas can occur in any lobe of the brain and even the brain stem and cerebellum, but more commonly occur in the frontal and temporal lobes. Below, I've answered some common questions I get about glioblastoma.

constance with family blog post image.JPGBy Constance Blanchard

"Unfortunately, it appears the tumor has returned."

Those were the first words the emergency room doctor said after seeing my CT scans. My husband's face dropped.

 "How can that be? I must be dreaming. It's only been nine months since my craniotomy." Those are the words I wanted to say, but struggled to get out. 

I was having seizure after seizure with barely a five-minute break in between.

The emergency room nurses were giving me anticonvulsants intravenously, trying to get my seizures to stop. Eventually, my seizing stopped. I was so exhausted, I fell right asleep.

I was still not ready to digest the news. My brain tumor, a glioblastoma multiforme, had returned less than five months since my radiation therapy ended and within the first year of my chemotherapy treatment.

brain cancer Glioblastoma Multiforme debbie.JPGBy Debbie Billings

My battle with brain cancer started in the fall of 2008.

I was at work when I began having some nasal problems and trouble completing routine tasks. I made an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor to have my sinuses checked. The doctor found some congestion and ordered a scan of my nasal passage, which needed to be cleaned out. 

In September 2008, Hurricane Ike hit our hometown and everything, including my health, was put on hold.

In the following months, though, my co­workers became concerned about my behavior and contacted my husband. I had recently had a hysterectomy, so I thought my hormones were messed up. I went to the doctor and was given a different prescription.
A deadly brain tumor diagnosis  
On January 21, 2009, my husband and I were leaving our house to go to work when I told him that I couldn't drive. I had forgotten how. He took me to the emergency room. 

Jeanette and andy sebesta.JPGJeanette Sebesta has tackled many roles during a celebrated career as a regional actress in Houston. But recent real-life experience has been the most challenging.

Sebesta's son, Father Andy Sebesta, was diagnosed with an anaplastic astrocytoma  in 2004. The cancer was partially removed during surgery to prevent seizures.

After several rounds of radiation, Andy, a Holy Cross priest at The University of Notre Dame, was in remission for six years until he was diagnosed with glioblastoma  in 2010.

After a second surgery, Andy received low-dose chemotherapy due to platelet problems. His oncologist, W.K. Yung, M.D., professor and chair in the Department of Neuro-Oncology, said radiation wasn't an option since he'd had so much after the first surgery.

"Physically, he was fine," Sebesta says. "Even though he had a brain tumor, he never had any problems with his mental capacity. Although he had cancer, he was never handicapped by it."

glioblastoma_multiforme_patient_surgery_doug.JPGBy Karen Clendenin

Doug Clendenin was diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma multiforme on May 15, 2012. Neurosurgeon Dr. Sujit S. Prabhu performed a lifesaving craniotomy on May 29, successfully removing 100% of the tumor. Due to the size and location of the tumor, however, surgery left Doug hemiplegic. He remained inpatient for 24 days in the neuro-rehabilitation unit and continues outpatient therapy at MD Anderson. His journey can be followed at

We have likened our brain cancer journey to a category 5 hurricane. We were hit hard with full impact:
-Diagnosis and surgery
-Entered the calm eye of the storm - tumor completely removed
-Lived through the dirty side of the storm - post-surgical physical deficiencies, radiation and chemotherapy

Now we are in the aftermath of building a new normal life that includes physical and occupational therapy and regular doctor visits.

We say "new normal" because life will never return to normal as we once knew it. And finding a new normal for a hemiplegic can be trying at times. You are warned and told to be patient and that recovery will come slowly, but hearing the words and practicing them daily are sometimes a struggle.

While each phase of Doug's journey is noteworthy, it is the steps that are taken through physical and occupational therapy that are guiding us to a new normal life.

121012CaraFamily.JPGBy Justin Hobbs

Justin Hobbs' wife, Cara, passed away from brain cancer in March 2011. With the support of MD Anderson, family and friends, he found ways to cope through her treatment and since her passing. Now, he is raising money to help find a cure for brain cancer. He blogs at
Cancer is a dirty word.

My first experience with cancer at MD Anderson was from afar, through friends of friends and distant family members. It was a place I really never wanted to visit, but after seeing their extraordinary cancer battles, my wife, Cara, and I decided that if we ever heard the word cancer again in our lives, we would head straight to MD Anderson.

In 2010, that decision stared us in the face and without hesitation, we were knocking on MD Anderson's door.

A family's battle
Cara started having very bad migraines, which we thought were brought on by her pregnancy. We later found out that she had a brain tumor, a stage IV glioblastoma multiforme. It's the most aggressive primary brain tumor in humans and, basically, the worst words in brain cancer you can hear.

At the time, we had a two-year-old little girl, Hailey, and a less than two-month-old little girl, Kate. Our world was flipped upside down.

120806tracey2.JPGBy Tracey Schoettelkotte

When I received the initial call from MD Anderson asking me if I would be interested in writing about my cancer journey, I had to laugh because my brain does not operate the way it used to.  

As a former trial attorney, I could intelligently write 500 words in just a few minutes. This blog post took me more than a month to write and it has been difficult and frustrating. But in writing my story, I have found I'm happy to hold a pen in my hand again.

So, one more thank you to MD Anderson and those who have supported me along the way. Because of you, I am here to share my story.

2002 was the most amazing year of my life. 

In a short sweep of time I got engaged, turned 30, graduated from The University of Texas School of Law, passed the Texas Bar, got married, spent a month in Europe on my honeymoon, started my new legal career in a boutique trial law firm and became a mom-to-be.

My life had come full circle -- everything that I had worked so hard for, dreamed of and prayed for had all finally came true.

During this time, I paid no attention to the daily headaches I was experiencing -- Tylenol had become my everyday regimen -- until Christmas Day.

EMbraincancersurvivor.jpgBy Elaine Moore

This post is part of our Survivorship Week series, June 2-9.

I've never had difficulty making decisions.

In September 2000, when I was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor, I knew that I had to get to MD Anderson right away.

I grew up in Houston and knew of MD Anderson's stellar reputation for cancer treatment. Without hesitation, I told my local doctors that I needed to be transferred there as soon as possible.

They agreed, and quickly processed my post-emergency surgery CT scans and MRI results so I could be admitted to MD Anderson's Brain and Spine Center.

Fixing it
My cancer journey began with the worst headache I could imagine. Within two days, I was undergoing an emergency craniotomy. The prognosis was not at all hopeful but, ever the optimist, I wasn't able to process that news.  

I only knew that I needed to "fix" it, with help from my family and my contacts in the medical community.

salazars.jpgOutside, a winter storm brings lashing winds and heavy rain to Houston. But in a surgical suite in MD Anderson's Main Building, Nicolas Salazar is waking up in a hushed room.

Coming out of anesthesia, he recognizes a kind face. David Ferson, M.D., professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, smiles and gently clasps his hand.

"You're doing very well, Nicolas," he says softly. "How do you feel?"

And with that, the most important member of the team for an awake craniotomy, in which the patient is conscious and talking for a portion of the surgery, has arrived.

'Mapping the brain' before removing the tumor
A 63-year-old insurance broker from Lima, Peru, Salazar is having his second brain surgery in as many months. Diagnosed late in 2011 with a central-brain glioblastoma, he underwent surgery in Lima in December. But the tumor was too difficult for the surgeons to remove, so Salazar and his family came to 
MD Anderson.

The lead neurosurgeon in Room 23 is Raymond Sawaya, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, assisted by fellow Lana Christiano, M.D. Before awakening the patient, they opened his skull to expose the brain.

Now they will "map" the brain, with Salazar's help.

Running for Jennie

By Kristin Elmore

JenKristinPHHfinal1.jpgKristin Elmore feels honored to have spent last year as roommate and caregiver to her true, blue best friend, Jennie, who died of a glioblastoma multiforme in May 2011. If wishes came true and money grew on trees, Kristin would find a way to make a living writing about Jennie, her experiences as a caregiver and helping to carry forward the enduring gift Jennie left behind.

The jetlag from international travel gives me the strangest dreams. On my first night home after a particularly taxing business trip, I woke in a sweaty panic.

Jennie and I were sitting in an MD Anderson exam room and she crumbled in my lap. I couldn't wake her, I couldn't hold her, I couldn't save her. It was one of those dreams that stays with you for days, the kind that makes your heart hurt when you think about it.

I sat on the edge of her bed the next day and told her about my dream. She -- the one who was living it, the one who was dying -- only wanted to comfort me. "We shouldn't have to deal with this at 30. It's OK to be scared," she said.

Jennie was diagnosed with a stage IV glioblastoma in February 2009. Numbness down the left side of her body and a telling metallic taste in her mouth took her to her general practitioner in January of that year. He suspected migraines, but did an MRI just to be safe.

She hadn't even made it all the way home from her appointment before he called to ask that she return to his office. When she arrived, he handed her a disk containing her scans and a card for the Brain and Spine Center at MD Anderson. "Good luck," he said.

One awake craniotomy, six weeks of radiation and 14 months of chemo led Jennie to May 5, 2010, when she got the "all clear" from her doctors. She was tumor free. Her hope and positive thinking almost silenced my realism. Almost.

lanieandron11.jpgBy William Fitzgerald, MD Anderson Staff Writer

It all began 10 years ago when Jerry and Lanie Rose lost their daughter, Marnie, to glioblastoma, the most lethal type of brain cancer.
Marnie was a vibrant 27-year-old in the first year of her medical residency when she learned of the heartbreaking diagnosis. During her valiant efforts to overcome the disease, she became a public figure of sorts, after agreeing to share her cancer journey and professional life on ABC's reality series "Houston Medical" in 2002.

Sadly, just five weeks before the show's final episode would air, Marnie succumbed to her disease. The Rose family was determined to honor their daughter's legacy, while finding a way to generate funds for two Houston hospitals that Marnie cared about deeply -- MD Anderson, where she was treated, and Children's Memorial Hermann, where she was training to be a pediatrician.

In 2003, the Run for the Rose was born. It quickly morphed into a community-wide event uniting patients, survivors, local businesses and families. 

samsjam copy.jpgBy Riders for the Cure officers

Riders for the Cure was founded in 2006 by Samuel Hassenbusch, M.D., Ph.D., and Patrick Browning, J.D., both MD Anderson employees and avid motorcycle riders. It was to give a voice to employee motorcycle riders, but it was quickly realized that more substantial goals could be achieved.

Today, Riders for the Cure membership comprises more than 150 employees from various departments and roles within MD Anderson. Membership is free and also is open to retirees, former employees and non-employee cancer survivors.

We promote community awareness for different types of cancer and we support research and education initiatives. We strive to promote communication and cooperation within the Texas Medical Center, and assist MD Anderson in raising funds for Making Cancer History ®.

In the past five years, Riders for the Cure has raised more than $60,000 for cancer research and for Anderson Network, MD Anderson's patient and caregiver support program.

We host two organized rides per year: The Ride for Life in June and Sam's Jam in October.  Sam's Jam IV will be on Saturday, Oct. 15. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.,with kickstands up at 10:30 a.m. The cost is $20 per rider, which includes lunch and musical entertainment by Cross Town Renegades and Electric Blues Crew.

By Elaine Eppright

Frank Eppright of Lenexa, Kan., was diagnosed with a brain tumor in early 2011. He came to MD Anderson less than a month later to receive treatment under Mark Gilbert, M.D.

His wife, Elaine, shares her experience as a caregiver to her husband.

Our lives changed forever at 3:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, 2010. My husband, Frank, was alone at work talking by phone with a client. The client told Frank he wasn't making any sense and to put the phone down and call 911. But Frank couldn't even dial 911.

Instead, he pushed his cell phone speed dial number for me. Together, the building security guard, our three wonderful daughters and I got Frank to The University of Kansas Medical Center by ambulance.

All through Christmas weekend we thought Frank had suffered a stroke, since his speech was so slurred and garbled. But on Dec. 26, we learned it was a brain tumor that triggered a seizure by leaking blood into his brain.

Malignant brain tumors express a number of antigen targets that should attract a hostile immune response, but they evade this attack by suppressing the immune system.

In two papers published Friday, M. D. Anderson researchers identify culprit mechanisms employed by glioblastoma multiforme to disable the immune system.

CCR cover_0110.jpgA report featured on the cover of Clinical Cancer Research demonstrates that a subset of tumor cells called cancer-initiating cells disables immune system T cells that otherwise would recognize and eradicate cancer. These tumor cells, also called cancer stem cells, thwart detection by killing T cells, converting them into a type of T cell that actually slows immune response and by producing molecules that block T cell response.

The team also found a way to reverse this immune suppression. The cancer stem cells are capable of converting themselves into one of three types of brain cell: neurons, astrocytes and glial cells. First author Jun Wei, Ph.D., instructor in the Department of Neurosurgery, explained that immunosuppression is reversed if the stem cells are forced to convert to one of the three types of brain cell.  

In a companion paper in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, the same research team shows that the STAT3 signaling pathway is highly active in glioblastoma stem cells and suppresses immune system response.

"We found that if you treat the cancer stem cells with an inhibitor of STAT3, you can restore T cell proliferation and the ability of those cells to make pro-inflammatory cytokines," says senior author Amy Heimberger, M.D. professor in the Department of Neurosurgery. Research continues on how the inhibitors work, and whether they cause the stem cell differentiation that the team has shown reverses immune suppression.

Read the News Release - Cancer Stem Cells Suppress Immune Response Against Brain Tumor 

"There are multiple research groups around the country, including ours, trying to develop vaccines or other immunotherapeutics against glioma stem cells," Heimberger says. "Now we have to be cognizant that the stem cell may deliver a fatal blow back to the immune system, which will help us understand how to design immune-based therapies."




Connect on social media

Sign In