Christy’s Story

Using up most of the treatment options available, Christy keeps fighting to beat her recurring brain tumor

Christy Lhamon of Traverse City has stayed ahead of her brain cancer since 2006 thanks to medical advances. When she was first diagnosed, her doctors in Traverse City didn't have much hope. She was told, “We want you to just go home, and live your life how you want to live.” Thankfully, her oncologist directed her to the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Over the course of 12 years, Christy underwent an awake brain surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, radiosurgery and laser ablation to remove the tumor. Each step maximized the available technology to treat the cancer. Dr. Ian Lee is one of the neurosurgeons who cared for Lhamon, performing her most recent surgery to extract the tumor.

There were two newer surgical advances which made all the difference in treating her most recent recurrence. One is called BrightMatter. The other is the Modus V.

"BrightMatter technology allowed us to visualize the white matter tracts -- kind of the highways of information in the brain, to visualize where the motor fibers are," Lee said. "It’s important to know where these fibers are to know where the danger zones are so that you can stay away from them during surgery.”

The other advance that is coupled with BrightMatter is the Modus V, an advanced surgical microscope that moves with a robotic arm.

During Christy’s last surgery, thanks in part to these technological advances, Lee was able to remove more tumor. This became important because the sample could be sent for advanced genetic analysis.

This analysis informs doctors of the specific mutations causing the cancer and allows for precision targeting of further treatments. In Christy’s case, the tumor demonstrated a mutation more commonly found in kidney cancers, and this opens the door to new treatment options. Dr. Jim Snyder is the neuro oncologist who works closely with her oncologist in Traverse City to determine the right treatment plan when it comes to chemotherapy for Christy.

Dr. Snyder said that without this information from the genetic analysis, they would not have thought to use chemotherapy against kidney cancer to battle Christy’s brain tumor.

"I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get back to work and do all that normal life things and just take it once a day," Lhamon said, in regards to the pill form Chemotherapy her team recommended.

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