Ryan Russell was a self-described “super healthy” sporting father of three, who was enjoying both professional and personal accomplishments. Then the mysterious headaches started.
It was like having intense migraines the doctor remembered. Beginning in April the pattern was identical each occasion: Russell would drop his son off at school in the morning, then work out, and feel the pain onset.
“About twenty minutes following I left the gym, I would begin to feel an immense amount of pressure on my head. It would result in these headaches and could cause vision problems -tunnel vision, such things, and it was really weird,” Russell, 39 who lives within State College, Pennsylvania, said to TODAY.
He sought medical advice immediately, but it required three doctors to pinpoint the cause. The first doctor thought it might be an inner-ear-related or COVID-related issue. The second thought was to explore an all-encompassing method.
The third doctor finally sent Russell to undergo an MRI. He is still able to recall the effects from the scan.
“If you’ve ever experienced an MRI then the expectation is that you’re there, you take it out, and the techs inform that you, ‘We’ll notify you within a couple of days to let you know the outcome in a couple of days,'” Russell said.
“When I was taken away to the hospital, the radiation oncologist was present and demanded that I join him, and I was unable to leave back home.”
What is Glioblastoma?
The scan revealed three brain lesions. Russell was transported to an emergency room for tests to determine his next course of action. In the beginning of May, he had a craniotomy, a procedure to remove a portion of the skull in order to gain access to the brain. Doctors removed some of his tumors choosing the one they chose due to the fact that its removal will have no effect on Russell’s motor abilities or language, as well as emotional.
The diagnosis is glioblastoma, one of the most aggressive forms of cancer in the brain. There are more than 13400 Americans are expected to be diagnosed it by 2022 According to National Brain Tumor Society.
The 20th of July is Glioblastoma Awareness Day, a condition that can strike everyone, regardless of age. The reason is not known. Its symptoms include frequent headaches nausea, nausea, blurred or double vision, as well as changes in personality and mood.
The condition has an unfavorable outlook: Five-year survival rates are less than 7percent as The National Brain Tumor Society noted. The treatment is difficult since the glioblastoma develops tentacles in the brain, rather than creating the form of a solid mass that surgeons can remove and target.
“You search for the condition and it’s quite a gruelling reading,” Russell said. However, he determined to explore the best treatment options by contacting doctors who are located at Duke University in North Carolina and Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
Try a personal vaccine
Russell is receiving radiation and chemotherapy, the norm of care. However, he’s planning to receive an individualized vaccine. He’ll be required go across Europe and pay for it out through his pockets.
The vaccine, which is manufactured by an organization in Germany It isn’t available to patients in the U.S. because there haven’t been any formal clinical trials conducted for this particular shot in America for this specific shot, according to the doctor. Douglas Colkitt, a retired radiation oncologist from Sarasota, Florida, who has been assisting Russell in his case.
It’s an immunotherapy method The tumors form what Colkitt calls”a “force field” which shields their cells from destruction by the immune system of the body and glioblastomas possess one of the most powerful “force areas.” This means it is very difficult for conventional chemotherapy to offer anything more than the smallest benefits, he added.
The method of vaccination uses cells of the tumor as well as certain cells found in the bloodstream, to develop a customized vaccine to aid the immune system overcome”the force field. “force field” and eradicate the tumor in a natural way the way it was intended, said Colkitt.
The results of German studies have been “very optimistic,” he said, noting a study of a smaller size which showed that more than 80 percent of patients who received the vaccine survived it through to three years after diagnosis.
“There is an, in my opinion following extensive research, a lot of hope for what may be the most difficult cancer within our bodies to last over a very short period of time,” Colkitt said.
However, the study’s sample was tiny, with just 30 people. U.S. clinical trials of similar vaccines aren’t as than encouraging, he added.
Tumor vaccines to treat glioblastoma remain in the process of being developed, according to the Dr. Evanthia Galinis. She is an Oncologist at the Mayo Clinic’s Brain Tumor Program in Rochester, Minnesota. They’re currently available within the U.S. as part of clinical trials but haven’t reached the level of efficacy required for a wider distribution she said.
Treatment of glioblastoma is “very infrequent,” with only one drug and one treatment accepted in the U.S. in the last 15 years, Galanis said.
Prioritizing the things that matter in your life
However, Russell, who plans to undergo his German vaccination in the month of January declared he was delighted and extremely optimistic about the procedure. The doctors believe the tumors are slow-growing which means he’s been able remain in good health. The cancer of the brain isn’t impairing his speech, nor his ability to be an adjunct professor in Penn State University.
His partner, Samantha, have been sincere with their children about the diagnosis, even though they don’t consider the disease “cancer,” and have stated that they’ll face it as the family. They’ve created a blog to chronicle their journey.
In the meantime, Russell is focusing on the bigger picture.
“I’ve enjoyed the luxury of having been extremely prosperous in my life… (but) there was always the one who was constantly thinking about the next task and not having fun, or having fun doing my work. The thing this diagnosis has given me an opportunity was to change my priorities and begin to think about: What do I’d like to do?” he said.
“No further putting off until tomorrow, because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”