Brain tumor clinic looking for new ways to save lives

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email

News 12 This Morning / Monday, Oct. 1, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Nearly 23,000 people will be diagnosed with brain cancer this year, according to the National Cancer Institute. The average person diagnosed with a brain tumor will only live around 12 to 14 months, but at GHSU's Cancer Center, they are working to change that.

Earlier this year they brought in new doctors and started up a new brain tumor clinic and for the families at the cancer center, it is already changing lives.

Kim Gayle, 28, has a brain tumor.

"It was probably May of this year that I started having headaches. We went and had an MRI done and that's when we found out I had a size of a golf ball tumor in my brain," she said.

She went to a neurologist in Aiken who sent her straight to GHSU's Cancer Center.

"We had surgery in July of 2012 and had it removed, but we couldn't remove all of it," Gayle said. "They got about 95 percent of gone and then we found out that we did have brain cancer and it is GBM stage 4."

"It's been very difficult," said her mother, Laura Gayle. "But we're lucky to have people around us supporting us especially here in the medical field."

Back in April the Cancer Center hired a new neuro-oncologist, Dr. Olivier Rixe.

"He is awesome," Gayle said. "From day one, first time I met him, I knew that was the doctor I wanted. He has been great the whole time from me and my mom and my family. He really seems like he wants to save my life."

They have since started a new brain tumor clinic, a big advancement for the center and their patients.

"In the old days the patient would come to see a neurosurgeon and they would go home and then we would make a call to the neuro-oncologist and the patient would have to come back to see a neuro-oncologist and then go home and maybe come back to see a radiation oncologist," explained Dr. Cargill Alleyne, chairman of Neuro Surgery.

But now in the clinic they can do it all at once.

"In this fashion, we can really make it a more patient-friendly experience because we can come up with a single plan at the same time and the patient can come in for a visit and hopefully see as many people at the same time as possible," Alleyne said.

The new clinic is also focusing on research and clinical trials for brain tumors, searching to find new ways to save lives like Gayle's.

"We want to be innovative," said Rixe, head of neuro-oncology. "We want to deliver the best cutting-edge research treatment."

"Even with the best treatment, the median survival is still only about a year," Alleyne said. "I think if we really put all our energies into trying to find treatment and an appropriate cure, we can really affect society."

The center just received a new grant that is allowing them to partner with a drug development company in France to come up with new drug therapies.The company was in Augusta last week touring the facilities and will be opening up a branch at the cancer center to work with Rixe on the drug development.

If you want to help with Gay'e's medical expenses, there is an account set up at Park Sterling Bank. It is called "Friends of Kim" (account #2546086).

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