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Sen. Ted Kennedy and Gary Morey, a 45-year-old Fort Worth resident, live thousands of miles apart and lead very different lives. Yet the two men share an important health issue – both have been diagnosed with a malignant glioma of the brain.
“The words on the page seemed fuzzy sometimes. At the end of the day I realized it had taken me five hours to read 13 pages of a book. Then, I couldn’t remember things. On the day I didn’t know my address, my wife took me to the emergency room. That was May 16, 2007,” said Morey. “I was about to start my last semester of nursing school. I wanted to change careers from public relations to health care. I was living my dream.”
Peter LaNasa, M.D., director of radiation oncology at The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, has followed Morey through much of his treatment.
“Gliomas have few symptoms, until the disease has progressed significantly. Warning signs may include seizures (like Senator Kennedy experienced), headaches, speech problems, loss of balance and personality changes,” LaNasa said.
After his diagnosis, Morey had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. But the cancer returned in November 2007. At that point, CyberKnife therapy was recommended.
LaNasa said, “A malignant glioma is one of the most difficult cancers to treat. The cause is unknown. Despite treatment, the disease typically returns at some point. We can give patients some new hope with improved surgical techniques, new chemotherapeutic agents and more sophisticated radiation therapy techniques. CyberKnife radiosurgery focuses pencil beams of radiation from hundreds of different directions on the tumor. However, this treatment is appropriate only for relatively small areas of disease that have returned after other treatment.”
Morey approaches his illness and the outlook for the future with a calming faith.
“Life is good, but what is in the future is even better. The Bible makes no reference that a long life is better than a short life. I’m using my time to make sure relationships are good, getting back in touch with people I’ve lost contact with, and building new relationships. I don’t see my situation as a weight. I and my family are getting on with our lives.”