When Gwen Watson was diagnosed with the advanced brain cancer glioblastoma (GBM), she and her husband would drive from their home in DeLand, Florida to the Miami Cancer Institute in Baptist Health for four and a half hours. Did not hesitate. State-of-the-art interdisciplinary care and registration for clinical trials. “My family has done a lot of research on where I can get the best treatment,” Watson said. “And the Miami Cancer Institute was that place.”
Watson’s cancer journey began in February when she suffered an unusual fall. Usually with active and stable legs, the 63-year-old struck things while she was walking and found her multitasking difficult. A retired US Navy nurse knew something was terribly wrong.
A trip to her hometown emergency room confirmed her suspicions. The mass in her brain turned out to be glioblastoma, the most deadly type of brain cancer. About 15,000 Americans are diagnosed with glioblastoma each year. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and seizures. Other brain functions may be affected, depending on the location and size of the tumor.
GBM occurs in the brain. That is, GBM does not spread to the brain from elsewhere in the body. Watson’s tumor was compact and encapsulated, and the surgeon immediately removed the mass. Two days later, she returned home and was surrounded by a mixed family that included her husband, Bob, her children and bonus children, and her grandchildren.
“It was a whirlwind,” Watson admitted. “But I’m very fortunate to have strong supporters in my life who care for me, do research, and find this clinical trial at the Miami Cancer Institute.”
Patients are encouraged to participate in clinical trials because GBM is highly resistant to treatment and there is no cure, said radiation oncologist Rupesh Kotecha, MD, director of radiosurgery and the Miami Cancer Institute. Said the director of the Central Nervous System Metastasis Program.
“Generally, patients with glioblastoma have a poor prognosis,” said Dr. Koteka. “Usually 16-18 months, depending on age and comorbidity, the range of surgery that can be performed, and whether the patient is receiving other treatments. We are learning more about glioblastoma, We need to provide patients with more biological treatments. ”
According to Dr. Kotecha, the Miami Cancer Institute offers a series of clinical trials in patients with tumors of the brain or spine. “These trials are testing either a new radiation therapy modality, a new drug in the clinic, or a potential way to improve surgery,” he said.
Watson participated in a study called “Dose Increasing Photon IMRT or Proton Beam Radiation Therapy and Standard Dose Radiation Therapy and Temozolomid in the Treatment of Newly Diagnosed Patients with Glioblastoma.” A national survey by Dr. Mines Metamedicine, Deputy Director of the Miami Cancer Institute and Dean of the Department of Radiation Oncology, found patients receiving proton beam therapy (more syntactic radiation therapy) and conventional photon radiation. We are comparing the outcomes of these patients (or X-ray therapy). It is hoped that the use of more focused therapies will prolong survival and provide higher doses. The Miami Cancer Institute has opened the first proton therapy center in South Florida and is the most experienced center in the region.
“Current studies use proton therapy, which includes the promise of previous studies that showed preliminary signals of survival benefits from dose escalation and better preservation of immune cells needed to fight tumors. Based on expectations of reduced side effects, Dr. Meta said. Baptist Health Cancer Care, consisting of the Miami Cancer Institute and the Lynn Cancer Institute at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital, is offering this trial in South Florida. It is the only medical institution that does.
Watson first met Dr. Koteka and the Miami Cancer Institute’s interdisciplinary team via telemedicine in March after surgery. In April, she started her radiation and chemotherapy at her laboratory. She received daily radiation therapy from Monday to Friday for 6 weeks. Over the weekend, she and her husband enjoyed time with her daughter Candice and her grandchildren in Miami.
In addition to the talented, caring and helpful staff, Watson said his stay at Hilton Miami-Dade Land on the Baptist Hospital campus made it easier for him to receive daily radiation therapy. “It was really the best scenario,” she said. “We walked from the hotel and walked around the lake. It was an opportunity to get out and enjoy the ducks, nature and sunlight.”
Watson’s faith and optimism drew the attention of Dr. Koteka. “This is a life-changing diagnosis,” he said. “What impressed me was her positive attitude, attitude, and the acceptance of her by her entire family around her diagnosis.”
On May 24, surrounded by a medical team and family, Watson rang a bell to signify the end of radiation therapy at the Miami Cancer Institute. She returns to DeLand and regularly visits telemedicine with Dr. Koteka.
“My life changed in an instant,” Watson said. “But that’s not what we experience in life, it’s the way we experience it. If you’re not looking for them, it’s really easy to miss a blessing.”
For others diagnosed with glioblastoma, Dr. Koteca has experience in treating brain tumors and, like the Miami Cancer Institute, provides quality of life such as massage therapy, mindfulness and meditation, and rehabilitation. It is advisable to find a cancer center that offers improved clinical trials and wraparound services, such as nutritional services.