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With his long beard, beefy tattooed arms, and Harley Davidson T-shirt, Kevin Bradley looks more like a biker dude than a sweet-natured brain cancer patient.
Actually, he's both.
A stage 4 glioblastoma knocked this tough guy down in 2006, and despite surgery he had a recurrence a year later. With few other options available, Bradley discovered a clinical trial for glioblastoma at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), using a drug known as AMG-102.
The median survival rate for a recurrent stage 4 glioblastoma is usually 18 months or less, but the 56-year-old Framingham, Mass., resident has responded so well to his trial that his disease has remained stable since 2007. Without the trial, he says, he knows he would not be alive.
Under the care of a team in Dana-Farber's Center for Neuro-Oncology, led by oncologist Patrick Wen, MD and nurse Debra Conrad LaFrankie, RN, OCN, Bradley is an enthusiastic, high-spirited patient – always ready with a quick joke or some playful banter for his care team. Every other Thursday he comes in for a check-up and chemotherapy, and he rides his motorcycle the 20 miles each way if weather permits.
"Kevin is a real success story," said LaFrankie as she helped Bradley through his 263rd chemotherapy infusion recently. "He's not someone who responded well after his initial standard therapy; he needed the right clinical trial. Now things have remained in check. We're truly invested in giving patients the best quality of life possible, so we love to see results like this."
The clinical trial Bradley is on is one of more than 20 offered at Dana-Farber's Center for Neuro-Oncology, which offers state-of-the-art treatment for patients with brain tumors, spinal cord tumors, and neurologic complications from cancer. Center clinicians are experts in treatment options that include precise neurosurgical techniques, radiation therapy, and a variety of chemotherapy and molecular drugs targeting an individual's particular type of cancer.
"At Dana-Farber we try to give our patients not only the best possible care but also the most advanced treatments anywhere in the country," says Patrick Wen, MD, director of Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber. "There is very close collaboration between our laboratory scientists and clinicians which allow us to give our patients the most promising clinical trials."
Bradley, who now works part-time as a bartender, looks at his bi-weekly visits to Dana-Farber's Yawkey Center for Cancer Care for treatment as a steady job with great "co-workers."
"'People ask what I'm doing here, and I say I'm getting recharged," says Bradley. "Every two weeks I feel like I'm running out of gas, and it's time to get recharged again." "As long as they'll keep having me, I'll keep coming."
Find out more about how we care for adults with brain tumors, spinal cord tumors, and neurologic complications from cancer at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Center for Neuro-Oncology.