Local families recall battles with cancer Senator McCain now faces

Several local families have been touched by the same brain cancer Sen. John McCain is battling.

A day after Senator John McCain was diagnosed with a rare type of brain cancer, he was tweeting messages of thanks for the support and that he'll be back soon.

The 80-year-old senator was diagnosed with glioblastoma, after pathology tests revealed a brain tumor. Now he faces a tough battle against a formidable opponent. It's a battle local people have bravely fought, while their families continue to fight for a cure.

Glioblastoma is an aggressive brain cancer with a low survival beyond a few years. The cause is unknown. LSU Health Neuro-Oncologist Dr. Aaron Mammoser treats patients so they can have the best quality of life for the longest period of time.

"I never go into a conversation with a patient, without having that lump in my throat, that I don't want to tell them the information that I have to tell them," Dr. Mammoser said.

It's the same news the Channel 4 family and our loyal viewers heard in the late 90s, when journalist Bill Elder fought the battle, even coming back to the anchor desk during the grueling treatment. It's the same news Gary Leingang's family heard when he was only in his 50s.

"About four months before he died, he said, 'Make something good come out of this so I don't just have cancer and die," remembers his widow Mona Leingang.

So Mona did. She is the brains and strength behind getting the legislature to proclaim May 9, Gary's birthday, Louisiana Gray Day, creating awareness for research and funding for a cure.

It's also what the family of Kelsey Bradley Favrot did when the same cancer ended her life as a mother in her 40s. They have hopes of creating a Neuro-Oncology Chair at LSU Health Sciences Center to support research, treatment and building a center so local brain cancer patients can be treated near home.

"She really was a guiding force in my, my life. She really did so much for me and, you know, had so much to do with my upbringing, so, I miss her," said Parker Favrot about his late mother Kelsey.

Dr. Mammoser says Senator McCain faces oral chemotherapy and radiation, which could have neurological side effects. It's also possible he could qualify for new treatments used for other types of cancer and the latest clinical trials using the immune system to battle the cancer.

Here's a little more information on what glioblastoma is:

It's a malignant tumor that affects the brain and spine. It's considered rare, with fewer than 200,000 U.S. cases a year. Doctors say it can't be cured.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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