Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Researchers find potential new treatment target for deadly brain cancer

That’s the title of an abstract from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. The summary says “A key player in brain tumor formation has been found that may lead to new therapies for a deadly and incurable cancer. The study is the first to show that a protein called OSMR (Oncostatin M Receptor) is required for glioblastoma tumours to form. Glioblastoma is one of the most deadly cancers, resistant to radiation, chemotherapy and difficult to remove with surgery.”

I don’t have anything to add to the quotes from the lead author, which I’ve cut and pasted in the following:

"The fact that most patients with these brain tumours live only 16 months is just heartbreaking," said Dr. Arezu Jahani-Asl, the lead author who performed this research largely in Ottawa while she was a postdoctoral fellow co supervised by Dr. Michael Rudnicki at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa and by Dr. Azad Bonni from Harvard Medical School and Washington University School of Medicine. "Right now there is no effective treatment, and that's what drives me to study this disease." Dr. Jahani-Asl is now an assistant professor in the Department of Oncology at McGill University and a principal investigator at the Jewish General Hospital, with a laboratory dedicated to how glioblastoma develops.

PS - Please excuse the the morbid black and white graphic, but I'm feeling awfully sad about this GBM and the near term options for victims which, at this moment, still seem to be slim and none. 

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_lightwise'>lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Friday, April 22, 2016

Chief Complaint, Brain Tumor

I once had somebody smart tell me that a good way to sort deal with a difficult situation is to get it out of your head by writing it down.

And while I couldn’t get my brain tumor out of my head by writing it down, I found that writing about my tumor (meningioma) helped me deal with it.

I generally tell folks that while there is nothing funny about having a brain tumor, like Roberto Benigni’s movie, Life is Beautiful, this book explains how I used humor to remain sane when faced with the insanity of a brain tumor the size of my wife’s fist.

The story loosely chronicles the first year I spent addressing tumor-related health issues: preparing for the (first) operation, having a skull infection, having the infected portion of my skull removed, undergoing rehab and radiation treatment, and learning to live with my “new normal” (the words “new normal” are the medical community’s code words for “you’re alive so quit complaining”).

More important than the details of my health woes, however, were my emotional reactions to those events.  As my health changed, so did my sense of humor. It started out superficially light-hearted prior to the first operation; transmogrified into gallows humor after several operations; and leveled out as somewhat wry-ish after radiation and significant rehab. You will see this in my often embarrassing interactions with friends, family and medical professionals of all shapes and sizes.

Should you for some strange reason want to know more or (gasp!) buy it, here’s some links:

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Buy a Butterfly, Help a Kid: 2016 Ependymoma Day

Of all the bad cancers out there, Ependymoma is one that I really detest.

According to the CERN website - http://cern-foundation.org/ - “An ependymoma is a rare type of primary brain or spinal cord tumor. It occurs in both adults and children. Primary tumors are those that start either the brain or spine. The brain and spine are part of the central nervous system (CNS).

Ependymomas make up about 5% of adult intracranial gliomas and up to 10% of childhood tumors of the central nervous system (CNS). Their occurrence seems to peak at age 5 years and then again at age 35.”

So here’s a crappy cancer that whacks folks in early childhood or, quite possibly, right after they’ve started a career/family.


You (yes, you!) can help. You can buy a butterfly as part of their innovative fund-raising campaign. At $25/butterfly it just may be the best investment you can make this year. With your powerful $25 butterfly you will help support basic research, promote Ependymoma awareness and, when you watch the mass butterfly release, have a big grin on your face knowing that you did something to help victims of this terrible disease.

Here’s the link to buy your butterfly: https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=f10f74

And, as always, I hope my butterfly will be a blue morph.


PS - Yes this is not the most prevalent brain cancer, but it's one that, reading the stories of  affected children and their parents, is most likely to make me weepy. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Beautiful Bad-Ass Brain Tumor Blogger Kaylin Andres & “Chaos in Humanhattan”

I see a lot of folks reading my February 2013 post entitled “Beautiful Bad-Ass Brain Tumor Bloggers: Kaylin Andres Spotlight” - http://johnstumor.blogspot.com/2013/02/beautiful-bad-ass-brain-tumor-bloggers.html

That’s great. But if you’ve only read that post, you’re missing the rest of the story.

The rest of the story is detailed in my post about the graphic novel that Kaylin, Jon Solo and Jade Takashi created entitled “Chaos in Humanhattan.” It’s more important because it shows how she and her collaborators have surged beyond that horrific experience to give back to the brain tumor community, especially to millennials whacked by brain tumors. 

So here’s what I previously wrote about “Chaos in Humanhattan.”


“Today I got a real treat, my own personal copy of Chaos in Humanhattan - the scary, cynical, irreverent, twenty-something, mash-up of a memoir, a ”chemo-induced ‘Alice in Wonderland’ story and a “campy ‘Hollywood’ action adventure” graphic novel that focuses on the Kaylin Andres and her Ewing Sarcoma cancer battles. http://www.cancercomicbook.com/

While the story is fantastical, so is the fact that Kaylin is still alive. I believe she’s still living because she found humor – black humor, gallows humor, sardonic humor – an vehicle for empowering her fight with a dark, hideously unrelenting cancer that whacked her at twenty-three and kept trying to drag her into the grave.

“Chaos in Humanhattan” is written and drawn for millennials. If you aren’t a millennial in your age or in your soul, you might find it flippant or upsetting. To my way of thinking, Kaylin addressed that when she wrote her book and blog’s subtitle – “Cancer is not Funny … Cancer is Hilarious.”  If that line doesn’t resonate with you, don’t read this book.

But it you are a millennial, in age or attitude, you should read this book. The story, by Kalin and Jon Solo, is in turns bleak, poignant, darkly comedic and upsetting – like many cancer survivor stories.

The graphics by Jon Solo and Jade Takashi are terrific - powerful, complex, and vivid. They are just as good as any Manga I’ve ever read.

What I really like about Chaos in Humanhattan is that Kalin and Jon capture all the horrible emotions that cancer victims go through, from “Why me?” to “Oh no!” to “I’m done” to “Now, I’m really pissed” and everything in between.