MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Being diagnosed with a Grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma, a brain tumor in the left temporal lobe, at the age of 25, didn't stop Katherine (Katie) Stamps from living her life while managing this devastating disease. Working for the world's leading spine company, Medtronic has its rewards and her personal relationship with the top neurosurgeons in the country was one of many blessings that followed Katie's journey. The technology and exceptional physicians that surrounded Katie over the past 13 years enabled her to get married, start a family, advance her career, and earn an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. But don't discount Katie's positive attitude, strength, intelligence, and most of all-solid foundation of support.
This is Katie's Story
A weird, quick vision and speech disruption after the 2007 Liberty Bowl, prompted Katie's family physician to order a CT scan in addition to some other tests. While other tests showed nothing, the CT scan, very unexpectedly, revealed a lesion in her left temporal lobe. After talking with Dr. Clarence Watridge at Semmes Murphey Clinic, he admitted Katie to Baptist East proceeded with surgery to remove the tumor and gain tissue for diagnosis, which indicated anaplastic astrocytoma. A treatment plan involving radiation and chemotherapy kicked her cancer into remission, and life moved on!
Stephen shared, "I knew I married a great wife, but I was extremely impressed with how she responded to her initial diagnosis in a positive and proactive manner to find the right treatment options. She never gave up and continued to pursue her personal and professional goals. We started a family and she completed her advanced education all while balancing her expanding roles at work."
Annual scans continued to show no signs of recurrent cancer and all things were normal until 2014, of all places at a conference -the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, she had her first full seizure. News reached her good friend, doctor, and President of the Semmes Murphey Clinic, Clarence Watridge, MD, FAANS, who was also in attendance at this conference. He insisted she be flown back to Memphis for further testing but the scans came back clear and life continued for two years with a series of routine scans - showing no reoccurrence. Then in August 2016, a growth was observed in her left temporal lobe. With Watridge retired, Dr. Madison Michael from Semmes Murphey Clinic took charge and brought Radiology Oncologist, Matthew Ballo, MD, FACR and Neuro Oncologist, Manjari Pandey, MD from West Cancer Center to collaborate on a treatment plan for Katie. The tumor eventually showed slight growth in November 2016, and Katie and her medical team decided to proceed with a surgical biopsy (just a tissue sample, not full removal). The pathology confirmed recurrence of the astrocytoma. The team decided to proceed with Temodar (a chemotherapy) for treatment and Katie went through 12 treatments in 2017. The year proved to be awesome and invigorating as God enabled continued family fun, contribution to the business, and enjoying life.
February 2018 images showed that the tumor had slightly grown back and an additional scan 6 weeks later showed a new tumor, more posterior than the previous. Treatment gears and options kicked into gear! Mayo, Duke, UCSF, UCLA, UAB, and Vanderbilt facilitated discussions and visits for treatment options and second opinions. Katie chose to stay in Memphis, her home, with a team from West and Semmes Murphey because in her words, "Drs. Michael, Ballo, and Pandey welcomed and sought different opinions and treatment options, while respecting my input and personal research during this process.
According to Dr. Michael, "Our role as a physician team is to collaborate with the patient to come up with the best individualized management plan for them. Katie has been the perfect partner in this process. She asks the tough questions, she listens to our multidisciplinary input, and we all agree on a path to move forward." The decision was made to incorporate, Optune®, a wearable, portable device that delivers continuous low-intensity electric fields, called Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields).
Dr. Ballo said, "TTFields are a unique anti-cancer therapy that complements existing surgical, systemic, and radiation therapy techniques. It was a perfect choice for Katie's situation because she needed to try something new, and West Cancer Center was able to provide access to this exciting and unique treatment option." Katie remains committed to fighting this cancer and maintaining her quality of life. "At West Cancer Center we are always looking for the treatment option that provides the greatest clinical benefit with the least side effects. For Katie, TTFields therapy fit the bill perfectly. Our personalized approach to cancer care allowed us to listen to Katie's needs and customize her treatment," said Dr. Pandey.
Katie's face lights up when expressing gratitude for her strong support system of God, family, dear friends, fellow survivors, Semmes Murphey, West Cancer Center, her Medtronic family, medical experts, church community, and steadfast faith; yet she is adamant about helping others manage their disease. When asked what advice she would give, Katie said, "Research your diagnosis from credible sources (non-profits); let others help you; value your friends, family and network to make sure you are aware of all options to build a support structure; and above all, tap into your faith because you can't do this alone. There is hope, love and humor in every situation, so laugh! Always be kind and nice to everyone. You never know when someone from your past may be that one connection or resource that alters your life."
About West Cancer Center
West Cancer Center & Research Institute has a 40-year legacy of patient-centric, research driven, excellence in adult cancer care, with a mission to improve the lives of those living with and beyond cancer. In 2019, West Cancer Center joined with three community oncology practices to found a national partnership, OneOncology, with a sole dedication to strengthen cancer care in community settings. To learn more, visit www.westcancercenter.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook @westcancercenter.
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SOURCE West Cancer Center