RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — This week we learned that Arizona Senator John McCain was just diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.
The long-term outlook for glioblastoma is daunting. Doctors give most patients an average survival rate of about 14 months after diagnosis.
But a Rockville woman is proof patients can beat those odds.
“When I got the pathology report that I had glioblastoma, that was devastating. It was truely devastating,” explains Barbara Hyman.
But Hyman defied doctors’ expectations. This month marks three years since her diagnosis.
“My intuition was that wasn’t going to be the end of the line for me,” adds Hyman, “I’ve done everything that has been recommended to me by my doctors and had a good response.”
She had surgery to remove the tumor followed by 30 radiation treatments and more than two years of chemotherapy.
“I talk to my patients about control, not about cure,” says Dr. Mark Malkin, Hyman’s neuro-oncologist at VCU Massey Cancer Center.
Dr. Malkin says glioblastoma can be treated but not cured.
“This diagnosis sucks,” he said. “I tell people you don’t want me as your doctor, because of what I do.”
Dr. Malkin says the goal is to help patients live as long as possible, but that their quality of life is just as important.
“I would tell anyone who’s diagnosed, don’t lose hope because I think anyone can realistically have a lot of hope,” Hyman added.