Beating the Odds Against Brain Cancer

By Steve Blanchard - March 15, 2019

Larry Thomason knows a thing or two about living with brain cancer. In 2016 doctors found seven neuroendocrine tumors in his brain and he was told he wouldn’t live longer than a year. After taking part of a clinical trial at Moffitt Cancer Center, he is now nearly three years cancer free and is scheduled to speak at the 2019 Regional Patient and Family Meeting focusing on brain and spinal cancers.

The American Brain Tumor Association, in partnership with Moffitt, will present the free event from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on March 15 at the Hilton Tampa Downtown. Patients, caregivers and families are invited to register and attend at no charge.

Larry with wife Nancy Thomason.

There, Thomason plans to share his story.

“I had a bout with melanoma in 2014 and after surgery, I thought I was fine,” Thomason said. “But after my third checkup I knew something was wrong when a team of doctors came into the room to greet me.”

That’s when he learned about the seven tumors in his brain and that traditional treatment methods would likely fail to prolong his life.

“We were just devastated, of course,” Thomason said, adding that cancer had spread to his lungs.

But Dr. Peter Forsyth, chair of Moffitt’s Department of Neuro-Oncology, offered a glimmer of hope. He shared that Thomason would be a good candidate for a new Bristol-Myers Squib clinical trial. He immediately agreed to participate.

“Having that glimmer of hope to hang onto was life-changing,” Thomason said.

Thomason was given Opdivo® via infusion, and during an appointment with Forsyth five weeks later, he got some good news.

“Two of the five largest tumors were gone,” Thomason said. “The others had been reduced by more than half.”

Today, nearly three years later, he is in remission and considered cancer free.

At the upcoming meeting, Larry and Nancy Thomason both plan to share their perspectives. Larry credits his wife for keeping him optimistic and mentally and emotionally prepared to continue the fight. The key for his survival, he said, coming to grips with the diagnosis and accepting what needed to be done to survive.

“You control what you can control and try to improve on it,” Thomason said. “And you have to accept what you can’t control and trust your doctors to do what is best for you.”

For more information on the Patient and Family meeting, click here.

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