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Photograph of David

When 15 brain tumours treated in one day becomes more days spent with family.



David was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer and brain scans revealed 15 brain tumours. After being treated using the Gamma Knife at Sunnybrook, he has more time to spend with his family.

On April 7, 2017, 50-year-old David was in the prime of his life. He went to the gym every morning, never smoked, and followed an extremely clean diet. His children were doing well in school, and David and his wife were enjoying planning their eventual retirement. On April 8th, David was diagnosed with a stage IV kidney cancer, and the outlook was grim.

David knew he was in trouble when he noticed blood in his urine. He went to the emergency room, where doctors diagnosed him with kidney cancer that had metastasized to his lungs, liver, bones, and brain. David began researching his options, and learned about Sunnybrook:

“There was a world-class centre just two hours down the road from me.”

During his consultation at Sunnybrook, David was told he was eligible for a very exciting and innovative clinical trial in the United States. “I was impressed. Sunnybrook didn’t want to just keep me in their facility; they wanted what was best for me.”

If I hadn’t had this treatment, I wouldn’t have the quality of life that I have now.

Fifteen brain tumors and one Gamma Knife

David travelled to Kansas and began treatment. He responded well, but the treatment didn’t protect his brain. His oncologist in Kansas had a frank discussion with him. He had 15 brain tumours that needed treatment. Treating numerous tumours at once wasn’t common practice, and David’s best chances were back at Sunnybrook for treatment using the Gamma Knife.

The Gamma Knife is a noninvasive alternative to the traditional method of radiation of the whole brain which can damage healthy tissue and interfere with memory and other cognitive functions. It targets tumours with precision allowing for safe delivery of radiation. Without the need to recover from incisions or anesthesia, patients treated this way are often in and out of the hospital in one day. David went home after his first treatment. “They mounted a frame on my head, and melted pins into my head to hold the frame in place. When I got home, I had some discomfort where the pins were, and only a mild headache.”

David’s second treatment was with the newest version of the technology. The Gamma Knife Icon does not require a surgically-fitted frame. David describes his second treatment as a “cakewalk.” Doctors fitted him with a mask instead of the frame. There were no pins, no pain, and no discomfort. “If I hadn’t had this treatment, I wouldn’t have the quality of life that I have now. I’m still here.”


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