MIAMI (CBS4) – A team of surgeons and oncologists at The University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center have treated the first patient enrolled in a clinical trial using a vaccine to target glioblastoma multiforme – the most common and aggressive form of brain tumor.
“I’m not going to give up, said Cathy Booker, who received the first treatment last week.
Booker’s world was turned upside down on November 21st when she was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. With hope, optimism and a lot of determination Cathy had the tumor removed and received radiation and chemo-therapy. The tumor diagnosis was made after she started experiencing numbness in her hands.
“It was quite the shock of course,” said Booker. “I was otherwise young and healthy.”
Booker, also a wife and vibrant mother to an 11 year-old son and 7 year-old daughter. She told CBS4’s Kara Kostanich that her fight to be healthy is about a mother’s dream.
“I want to see my children have children,” said Booker.
The Weston woman is the first patient to take part in the brain tumor vaccine trial, one of only eight medical centers in the country, and the only one in Florida, offering this treatment option.
“With this type of tumor there are cells that have spread well beyond the margin, said Dr. Ricardo Komotar, the neurosurgeon treating Booker. “That’s why you need to have therapies post operatively.”
The vaccine uses Cathy’s immune system to create a stronger immune system response to prevent the tumor from coming back.
And while the devoted mother and wife is optimistic about a healthy future, she hopes her story will help other patient too.
“I just want to make sure when people learn they have something like this, they have options and know trials are available,” said Booker.
In Florida alone, an estimated 600 new glioblastoma patients will be diagnosed this year. Early results with the vaccine, according to Komotar, have been promising, nearly doubling life expectancy.