Management of Cancer That Has Spread to the Brain - Episode 18

Effect of Brain Metastasis Treatment on Quality of Life

Priscilla Brastianos, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard Medical School

,
Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, Cleveland Clinic

,
Raymond Sawaya, MD, MD Anderson Cancer Center

,
Vinai Gondi, MD, Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center

,
Ralph DeVitto, American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA)

,
Ivy Elkins, Patient

,
Katie Doble, Patient

,
Nick Doble, Caregiver

Priscilla Brastianos, MD: Tell us, what effect did treatment have on your quality of life and how important is quality of life in all of this?

Ivy Elkins: My quality of life, other than the first three months post-diagnosis when I needed to wear a neck brace, has been fantastic, to tell you the truth. I feel good, I have minimal side effects, I have lots of energy. I’m able to do whatever I want. People who don’t know me would have no idea that I’m living with stage IV lung cancer, seriously. I have no issues with my quality of life. Even when I had surgery in 2020, I was able to bounce back from that really well. I continue to work out on a daily basis, and I really am living very well despite the cancer.

Priscilla Brastianos, MD: That’s amazing. It also speaks to what an amazing person you are. Katie, how about you?

Katie Doble: The same. I honestly think my quality of life has improved so much compared to pre-cancer. I’m a happier person, I think I’m a kinder person. It opened my eyes to how lucky I am, so I appreciate that. One of the lasting side effects of one of my treatments is that I struggle to breathe when I am deep belly laughing, which is one of my favorite things in life, because when you’re really deep belly laughing, you know life is good. That happens with us on a daily basis because Nick is funny, and our dog is hysterical. At least once a day I’m laughing so hard that I can’t breathe, and yes, it’s a side effect from treatment, but it makes me live in that moment. It makes me realize you are lucky to be experiencing this joy in this moment. I always say I wouldn’t go back and change my diagnosis. It’s made me live life so much richer than I was before. I treat my body better, I treat others better, we soak up every day, and we know how lucky we are that we get to be here.

Priscilla Brastianos, MD: That’s incredible. Dr. Gondi can also speak to this, but I’ve had several patients who have told me that a cancer diagnosis was a blessing to them because it changed their life in multiple positive ways. I don’t know, Dr. Gondi, if you wanted to speak to that, too.

Vinai Gondi, MD: I wish all Zoom calls had a reference to Seinfeld and Transformers. But your stories, honestly, they touch all of us. It touches anybody who is watching this and listening to this. It gives everybody hope. I say that oftentimes with my patients, and ironically with my kids. Memories and milestones, that’s what life is all about, and sometimes a cancer diagnosis gives us an unfortunate reminder of that. But I’m glad you are doing well, and I’m glad you are reaching those memories and milestones.

Transcript Edited for Clarity