James Nebus, 71, never expected to walk his daughter down the aisle or see the birth of his first grandson.
While the holiday time is supposed to joyful, that was not the case for the Nebus family. In December of 2000, they received the grim news that Nebus had a brain tumor and only had months to live. But with highly aggressive treatment, a fighting spirit and a supportive family, he is now a cancer survivor who is hoping to inspire other patients with his story.
Diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive form of brain tumors, Nebus took his prognosis head on and researched available treatment options. That was when he found Dr. Phillip G. St. Louis, a Florida Hospital neurosurgeon, and Dr. Nicholas Avgeropoulos, a Florida Hospital Cancer Institute neuro-oncologist, who teamed up to help give Nebus his fighting chance.
Shortly after the initial diagnosis, Nebus underwent brain surgery to remove the tumor and implant Gliadel Wafers. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration, these chemotherapeutic wafers are inserted directly into the cavity where the tumor was removed.
Over several days, the wafers release chemotherapy and attack cancer cells. Gliadel Wafers are the only FDA-approved treatment to provide highly concentrated chemotherapy directly to the brain, while avoiding systemic side effects usually associated with chemotherapy. These biodegradable wafers are clinically proven to prolong survival without jeopardizing quality of life, as is often the case with such aggressive therapies.
It has been more than five years since Nebus had this initial operation. Since his diagnosis, Avgeropoulos has carefully watched over Nebus, administering additional therapies, to provide combined benefits of the treatments.
"Implanting the Gliadel Wafers only added a few minutes onto the initial surgery, yet the effects have contributed to James living more than five years after surgery" said Avgeropoulos. "We are thrilled by the progress of this remarkable man."
Soon after the brain surgery, Nebus returned to his normal life. He played cards, traveled and spent time with his family. And although he retired, his family has maintained the family business, Rock Creek RV Resorts in Naples, Fla.
Each year, the family organizes a fundraiser at the RV resort to raise money for the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute and inspire other local GBM patients with Nebus' story of survival. They want to tell other families to never lose hope, no matter what the diagnosis.
Nebus' tumor has returned twice since that initial operation. Both times, St. Louis removed the tumor and implanted additional Gliadel Wafers. Nebus' family cannot be certain how much time he has left, but they are incredibly thankful for the past five and a half years and the priceless memories they have shared as a family.
Cancer Patient Beats the Odds, Hopes to Inspire Others