Embracing life after an aggressive brain cancer diagnosis
(BPT) - Gill Doyle is a self-proclaimed numbers guy. He loves statistics, research, and anything that can be quantified with a number. When he was diagnosed with a fast-growing and aggressive brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), it was devastating. Not only would his life change, but the way he preferred to think and process the world around him would also shift.
"When you’ve got a serious brain cancer diagnosis, an interest in compiling a thorough set of data can be very challenging. That’s where my faith and perseverance come in,” said Doyle.
Since college, Doyle worked in sales in the pharmaceutical industry. In addition to his career, he was focused on his four children and fitness. However, one summer when he started getting headache after headache, he knew something was wrong.
"I’d been dealing with a string of increasingly painful headaches that week. I had been chalking them up to sinus pressure headaches from fall allergies. On day four of my headaches, the pain became severe. As I made my way to the bathroom that afternoon, I thought back to when I’d broken my arm a few years earlier. This pain was much worse than that! I knew something was horribly wrong and I went to the ER," recalled Doyle.
He was sent immediately to get a CT scan of his head where he learned a mass bigger than the size of a golf ball was pressing on his brain. Then he received an MRI for further analysis and the physician saw markers of grade 4 brain cancer — a glioblastoma — and said they should operate quickly.
"At that point, my mind was racing. At home, I read that GBM is the most aggressive form of brain cancer. Those were numbers I did not like at all," he said.
After doing his own research, he remembered during his pharmaceutical work, hearing about a wearable device called Optune that is noninvasive and delivers treatment directly to the tumor.
"I had surgery a week after they found the mass, and the surgeons were able to remove most of it. My healthcare team and I later discussed solutions to control any further development of the tumor, and that’s when my doctor talked to me about Optune," said Doyle. "I worked with a dedicated device support team to help me identify resources as well as provide support."
Doyle learned that Optune is an FDA-approved treatment for GBM and works by delivering low-intensity, wave-like electric fields via adhesive patches called transducer arrays, placed on a patient's body. These fields, known as Tumor Treating Fields or TTFields, leave patients' healthy cells mostly unaffected, and slow and sometimes stop cancer cells from dividing. Some cancer cells are even destroyed completely.
With permission from his doctor, Doyle can still enjoy all the things he loves to do including playing golf, traveling, and staying active. He brings his Optune device with him, as Optune is small and light, weighing just 2.7 pounds and designed with convenience in mind.
"Using Optune helps me concentrate on the blessings in my life: fitness, holidays, and time with loved ones," he said.
Gill is an Optune patient and patient ambassador. Patient images reflect the health status of the patients at the time each photo or video was taken.
Learn more about a treatment option for GBM at: Optune.com
Important Safety Information
What is Optune® approved to treat?
Optune is a wearable, portable, FDA-approved device indicated to treat a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in adult patients 22 years of age or older.
Newly diagnosed GBM
If you have newly diagnosed GBM, Optune is used together with a chemotherapy called temozolomide (TMZ) if:
- Your cancer is confirmed by your healthcare professional AND
- You have had surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible
If your tumor has come back, Optune can be used alone as an alternative to standard medical therapy if:
- You have tried surgery and radiation and they did not work or are no longer working AND
- You have tried chemotherapy and your GBM has been confirmed by your healthcare professional
Who should not use Optune?
Optune is not for everyone. Talk to your doctor if you have:
- An implanted medical device (programmable shunt), skull defect (missing bone with no replacement), or bullet fragment. Optune has not been tested in people with implanted electronic devices, which may cause the devices not to work properly, and Optune has not been tested in people with skull defects or bullet fragments, which may cause Optune not to work properly
- A known sensitivity to conductive hydrogels (the gel on the arrays placed on the scalp like the ones used on EKGs). When Optune comes into contact with the skin, it may cause more redness and itching or may rarely cause a life-threatening allergic reaction
Do not use Optune if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. It is not known if Optune is safe or effective during pregnancy.
What should I know before using Optune?
Optune should only be used after receiving training from qualified personnel, such as your doctor, a nurse, or other medical staff who have completed a training course given by Novocure®, the maker of Optune.
- Do not use any parts that did not come with the Optune Treatment Kit sent to you by Novocure or given to you by your doctor
- Do not get the device or transducer arrays wet
- If you have an underlying serious skin condition on the scalp, discuss with your doctor whether this may prevent or temporarily interfere with Optune treatment
What are the possible side effects of Optune?
Most common side effects of Optune when used together with chemotherapy (temozolomide, or TMZ) were low blood platelet count, nausea, constipation, vomiting, tiredness, scalp irritation from the device, headache, seizure, and depression. The most common side effects when using Optune alone were scalp irritation (redness and itchiness) and headache. Other side effects were malaise, muscle twitching, fall and skin ulcers. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these side effects or questions.
Please visit Optune.com/Safety for the Optune Instructions For Use (IFU) for complete information regarding the device’s indications, contraindications, warnings, and precautions.