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After waking from surgery to remove a benign brain tumor, Laeki Hester learned her tumor wasn't benign after all. It was cancer, but a plan was already being developed for her follow-up treatment. Laeki was soon asked if she would be interested in participating in a clinical trial for chemotherapy.
"I thought about it for five seconds and answered 'yes'" says Hester. "I hoped my participation might help someone else. It actually ended up helping me."
Luckily, Hester's team of surgeons, which included Mark Rosenblum, M.D., co-director of the Henry Ford Neuroscience Institute and the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center at Henry Ford Hospital, was able to remove the tumor during her initial surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation followed to eradicate any residual cells that might remain.
For Hester, the main advantage to the clinical trial was that her chemotherapy treatment didn't require frequent trips to the hospital for IV infusion. "My friends call me 'Miss Independent,'" says Hester. "Being chosen for the clinical trial meant I could take chemotherapy orally and on my own, without trips to the hospital for IV infusion. I was able to continue working, and could go to work on days when I was taking the capsules."
Hester got married during her final month of chemotherapy, not missing a treatment – even on her wedding day. "I drank sparkling cider at my wedding, and we had a good time joking about it," she remembers.
"I used to wonder if people at Henry Ford were trained in compassion," she says. "Everyone was so friendly and positive, and really, honestly, cared about me. The positivity surrounding me reinforced my healing."
At her last visit with Henry Ford neuro-oncologist Tom Mikkelsen, M.D., co-director of the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center, Hester remains cancer-free and is feeling great. "I jumped over a mountain called cancer," she says. "This was my test, and now I feel like I can overcome anything."