National Glioblastoma Awareness Day July 20th, 2022

Jul 19 10:57pm | langegina | @langegina

National Glioblastoma Awareness Day: July 20th, 2022

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common primary brain cancer with approximately 13,000 cases diagnosed in the United States each year. It is one of the most complex, deadly, and treatment-resistant cancers.
There is currently no cure for glioblastoma. With a 5-year survival rate around 10%, and a median length of survival after diagnosis of 15-18 months, getting this diagnosis can be extremely overwhelming.
The standard treatment of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy has not significantly changed in several years, and unfortunately, is not curative. Glioblastomas are considered rare compared to other more prevalent cancer types such as breast, prostate, and lung. Because of this, it has not received the same amount of national attention. It is time to bring light to this devastating disease by accelerating brain tumor research!

Glioblastoma Awareness Day takes place each year on the third Wednesday of July. The inaugural Glioblastoma Awareness Day happened July 17th, 2019, after initially introduced to the Senate by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators. The resolution is to encourage increased public awareness of glioblastoma, honor the individuals who have been impacted by the disease, and support efforts to develop better treatment options that will improve patients’ long-term prognosis.
This disease really hits home with me personally as my dear friend Maggie was diagnosed with Glioblastoma. This obviously came as a shock to her, her family, and all her friends, given her previous good state of health both mentally and physically. Maggie initially thought she was experiencing long term side effects of COVID with slight confusion and difficulty concentrating. It wasn’t until one day when she was teaching that she knew something was wrong. Maggie was in front of her class, and she couldn’t remember the math lesson that she had done numerous times before.
I recently was able to sit down with Maggie and ask her insight from a patient perspective. Maggie has had surgery, completed radiation therapy, and is now actively going through chemo and immunotherapy. She stated that although she is diagnosed with brain cancer, she is trying to keep a positive attitude. For the most part, she feels well, which can be challenging in its own way. She is very grateful for her team and feels they have helped her get through treatment by answering her questions and supporting her when needed. She encourages other people to do the same. Maggie is an inspiration to all of those around her. She continues to live her daily life, spend time with her friends and family, and doesn’t complain or wish pity on herself. One thing that Maggie does to keep her mind healthy is she plays a lot of cribbage. She was playing during one of her treatments and was lucky enough to peg a 28 hand. This is the second highest scoring hand in cribbage! Maggie is determined to fight her cancer with the support of her family and her Mayo Clinic team.
Mayo Clinic and other national cancer centers are currently studying new approaches to fight glioblastoma with immunotherapy, a treatment that uses a person's own immune system to attack cancer cells. One such study is the development of a dendritic cell vaccine. We usually think of a vaccine as being given to healthy people to help prevent diseases, such as the HPV vaccine which can prevent cervical, mouth, and throat cancer. However, some vaccines can help treat cancer. This involves boosting cells that produce an anti-cancerous tumor immune response. Other immunotherapy methods under investigation for glioblastoma include (CAR)-T cell therapy and extracellular vesicles. For more information visit Mayo Clinic's website.
We need to create as much public awareness as possible to fight this disease! In the words of Maggie Hongerholt, “It’s not the end until it’s the end so enjoy life.”

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