Brain tumors are scary!
A diagnosis of a brain tumor will always shock you, no matter if the tumor can be removed or not.
It’s life-changing for everyone involved and often family members start initiatives or choose a work field to face this experience.
The patient’s perspective
Several years ago, my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It shocked the whole family. We were forced to accept and to deal with a scary diagnosis, a heavy cocktail of pain, desperation, numbness, fear, and hope.
My mom had to undergo an extremely risky surgery. Difficult decisions needed to be made. Further, there was a high risk of my mom losing her eyesight during the surgery.
Thank God, it went well. The tumor was removed and her eyesight was retained. First, my mom had check-ups every 6 months, then every year and now every 2 years. The tumor never returned.
The scientific perspective
Treatment options for brain tumor patients improved over the years and research is still ongoing. I had the honor to be part of a research team who developed a new treatment called heavy-ion cancer therapy.
It was developed at the famous German research Centre GSI Helmholtz Institute under the visionary leadership of Prof. Dr. Gerhard Kraft. He received many awards for his achievement, including the Federal Cross of Merit of Germany. The Therapy is now successfully used in specialized hospitals.
Brain tumor therapy
at the GSI Helmholtz Institute (Picture courtesy of GSI Helmholtz Institute)
It was a long journey! Research started in 1981 while the first patient was treated in 1997. At the beginning, many proposals were written, lots of papers filed and many nights spent working. But then the vision became reality.
The advantage of this treatment is the destruction of the brain tumor while healthy areas of the brain stay unharmed.
Sometimes we don’t see the relationship between the work of scientists and its use in reality Click To Tweet
Imagine a radiation beam entering the brain with no power until it reaches the tumor. There it develops an incredible strong destructive power damaging the tumor. After this peak of power, the radiation beam leaves the brain with no further destruction of the healthy brain.
Sometimes we don’t see the relationship between the work of scientists and its use in reality.
Today you have!
You have seen it through two people who are part of my personal life journey. My mom, who suffered a brain tumor, and my former boss, who followed a scientific vision of treating a brain tumor.
My mom’s surgery was two years before the heavy-ion cancer therapy was used. She would have been a candidate for this treatment. The risks would have been less than the risks of the surgery she had.
Next time you hear the word science don’t think of geek or boring school lessons.
Next time you hear the word science think of people who work through the night to one day save your mom’s life.