I beat a rare form of cancer with less than 1% survival

  • When Owen Munday was 14, he was recognized with stage 4 hypermutated glioblastoma.
  • Survival charges have been poor, however a scientific trial saved his life. She is now 18 and cancer free.
  • This is her story, as informed to creator Polly Anna Brown.

This narrative essay relies on an interview with Owen Munday, an 18-year-old pupil in Canada about his expertise in a scientific trial for a rare form of cancer. It has been edited for size and accuracy.

Four years in the past I had a concussion in school and was bedridden for a whereas. I would not suppose a lot of it, however I saved getting migraines. My head felt prefer it was condensing and increasing on the similar time, so the docs ordered an MRI. From the imaging they realized I had a tumor within the middle of my mind and in my fourth aqueduct ventricle that was blocking the circulation of my cerebrospinal fluid. It turned out that I had stage 4 hypermutated glioblastoma, an aggressive mind tumor attributable to metastatic colorectal cancer. I had an operation a day later.

My first surgical procedure was to biopsy the tumor and put an exterior ventricular drain, or EVD, in my head to handle the strain from the cerebrospinal fluid build-up in my mind. The surgical procedure was so fast that I forgot I was informed about EVD. Waking up with him was traumatic; I saved ready for somebody to come back and take it out. Every time I rolled over in mattress, went to the toilet, or in any other case adjusted myself, the EVD additionally needed to be adjusted to maintain it at my eye degree.

Soon after, one other surgical procedure was carried out to take away my tumor, adopted by one other surgical procedure to take away the EVD and substitute it with a everlasting shunt to handle the CSF.

It turned out that my tumor was very troublesome to take away; it was noxious and grew to connect itself to the encompassing tissue and name it a spider. The docs stated it could be troublesome to take away with a scalpel, so as a substitute they carried out a suboccipital craniotomy with a large resection, and within the subsequent operation, they put a needle in my head to suck out as a lot of the tumor as attainable. Both operations took a whole of 8 and a half hours, and though the docs eliminated some of the tumor, they weren’t in a position to take away all of it.

Things acquired worse earlier than they acquired higher

In addition to operations, I additionally underwent chemotherapy and gamma radiation procedures. But this therapy was not sufficient. I felt one thing was flawed, however the docs did not imagine me till they did an MRI to examine for extra tumors. Of course, typical chemotherapy and gamma radiation don’t work; The cancer has unfold to my backbone. Because of this, my physician enrolled me in a scientific trial by the Pediatric SU2C Catalyst program for immunotherapy therapy.

My tumor was very rare. Colorectal cancer normally happens within the colon and rectum, however my mind all of a sudden confirmed up and categorized it as a hypermutant, grade 4 glioblastoma. Glioblastomas have an effect on individuals between the ages of 45 and 70 and are very rare in youngsters; Doctors informed me that solely three or 4 instances are recognized in individuals my age annually.

A scan of Owen Munday's brain and tumor

A scan exhibiting Munday’s mind tumor.

Courtesy of Owen Munday



My scientific group additionally found that I have Lynch syndrome, which will increase the danger of a number of varieties of cancer, together with colorectal cancer. My tumor was so harmful and malignant that I had nearly no likelihood of survival by typical cancer therapy. There was no alternative however to proceed with the trial; it was a scenario that did. Originally there was a two week ready interval to enter the trial, however because of my situation I was cleared the subsequent day.

Infusion remedy is like a miracle drug

I began a scientific trial in April 2019 and began receiving therapy infusions, which have been scary at first as a result of of surprising unintended effects. I was so drained that at one level I simply began speaking; I did not make sense in any respect. I did not reply the questions, I did not know the place I was or who was with me. It was like a zombie took over my physique.

Fortunately, the unintended effects of the phrase solely occurred as soon as, and after that my well being started to enhance, however the fatigue lasted for the period of my therapy. For the subsequent 2 1/2 years, my dad and mom and I traveled to Toronto each two weeks for therapy.

Although the infusions have been troublesome, I was additionally comfortable as a result of I liked speaking to the nurses and docs. The neurologist used to speak to me for an hour and it was very attention-grabbing. I discovered a lot about my physique, therapies, and the sector of biology normally, which I have all the time liked.

Unfortunately, my mom needed to stop her job because of journey, which disrupted our dwelling life. I have three different siblings who’ve been on the backburner whereas I was preventing for my life. Fortunately, we made it out the opposite method nearer than earlier than.

Moreover, the tumor disappeared inside three months. It was superb.

Now that I am cancer free, what’s my life like?

My dad and mom, my twin brother, Riley, and I now stay within the woods. There are timber throughout and I have a canine that I adopted when I began preventing cancer. His title is Ozi and I love him like my son. My canine ​​can roam freely, however he’s all the time near me.

Owen Munday holds up a fish and smiles for the camera

It’s Monday now.

Courtesy of Owen Munday



My household owns a lumber mill and store the place I do woodworking and a little building, and we preserve chickens for recent eggs. My father taught me electrical wiring and mechanics. I am additionally about to complete my final credit to graduate faculty.

Since stopping my infusion I have began doing extra bodily exercise. I really feel stronger and a lot better general. I have some everlasting injury round my optic nerve the place the tumor is, so I cannot search for with out shifting my head fully. It can pressure my eyes and provides me a headache. But different than that, I’m a regular 18-year-old, comfortable to be alive.

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