Friday Frontline: Oncologist With Terminal Cancer Gifted Tickets to 2021 Super Bowl, Indiana Pacers Guard Caris LeVert Undergoes Surgery for Kidney Cancer, And More

January 29, 2021
Conor Killmurray

From a urologist with a terminal cancer diagnosis receiving tickets to the 2021 Super Bowl to see his favorite quarterback Tom Brady compete for a seventh championship, to Indiana Pacers guard Caris LeVert undergoing surgery for renal cell carcinoma, here’s what’s happening in the cancer landscape this week.

A trip to the 2021 Super Bowl allows an oncologist with terminal cancer to fulfill a lifelong dream

Dr. Brian Lane, a urological oncologist at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was first diagnosed with cancer in 2018. Treatment initially went well, and he was told his disease was in remission. However, at a routine scan in early January he learned the cancer returned and that his diagnosis was terminal.

After receiving his terminal diagnosis, Lane evaluated what he wanted to do in his remaining months. One thing he thought about was how he always wanted to attend the Super Bowl. Not only has he always wanted to attend the Super Bowl, but he also wanted to see his fellow University of Michigan alum Tom Brady compete for his seventh championship. After confirming his vaccinations and story, the NFL selected him to receive a ticket.

“It's shocking to me that I'm struggling with this cancer diagnosis, but then we flip it, and it's mind-blowing that I could go to the Super Bowl and that somebody would care about me and would hear my story,” Lane said in an interview.

One three-time cancer survivor has persevered and continues to walk two miles a day after completing physical rehabilitation after breaking her pelvis.

Zenell Ott, 90, has survived lung, uterine and breast cancer. Throughout her multiple cancer journey’s, she has continued to live in her hometown of Osyka, Mississippi, and has become an inspiration to all. “In Osyka, to everybody I’m Aunt Nell or Mama Ott,” Ott said in an interview. “It’s kind of difficult to explain to people how we’re related.”

“She doesn’t use her health as an excuse for not doing something,” said Ott’s friend Diane Harrell. “She’s the first one there, and she’s going to be there as soon as she can.” Ott has helped children who live in Osyka through the school system, offering voluntary swim lessons and participating in many more community events. Her service to the community and perseverance through cancer has made her a fixture of her town. “I’ve avoided the word ‘can’t’ all my life. I just feel like I can do things,” Ott said.

A multiple myeloma treatment may be significantly more effective than remdesivir in treating COVID-19.

Data presented in the journal Science indicate that Aplidin (plitidepsin) may be more than 27.5 times more effective in treating the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 than remdesivir.

According to the study authors from Mount Sinai Hospital and University of California, San Francisco, there was a 100% reduction of viral replication in the lungs for patients who received plitidepsin and reduced lung inflammation. Plitidepsin is a targeted therapy against a host protein making sure that SARS-CoV-2 can’t replicate, and it is approved for the use of treatment in patients with multiple myeloma in Australia.

“The preclinical data published today showing increased potency compared to remdesivir,” Nevan Krogan, a study co-author, said in a statement, “and in conjunction with recent early clinical data showing promise in COVID-19 patients as reported by the drug’s manufacturer, highlight plitidepsin should be further evaluated as a COVID-19 therapy.”

Caris LeVert is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing surgery for kidney cancer.

LeVert was recently part of a four-team blockbuster trade that recently sent NBA superstar James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets and had just joined the Indiana Pacers. He will now remain out indefinitely, but the team has said it will stick by him through the healing process and that at this time he does not need further treatment.

“I've always known Caris from afar, I've never known him as a person," Pacers center Myles Turner said in an interview. "I've always heard great things about him, obviously as a basketball player and an individual, so I think that's what we have in this culture. He's gonna fit so perfectly whenever that is, but right now we're not really worried about basketball with him. We want him to continue to fight through this. I think it was a real win for the organization."

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