Health Care

Clinical Trial that Helped Lawrence Be Cancer Free

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Lawrence in His Own Words:

“My brain cancer story started in late spring of 2022 when I started having intense headaches that wouldn’t stop no matter which over-the-counter medication I tried. The pain so bad that I went to the urgent care. The doctors prescribed migraine-relief medications, but the pain persisted.

Just a day after I went to the urgent care, I started having alarming neurological symptoms. I was at home walking down the stairs, holding on to the railing when my body suddenly gave out; I lost complete motor control and collapsed. I was fortunate to not get injured from the fall, but my wife and I realized that something very serious was going on.

My neurological symptoms only got worse when the following day I began to have (what we now know were) grand mal seizures. During these episodes, my wife intervened and kept me from getting hurt and after rushed me straight to the ER.

At the ER, the doctor ordered some bloodwork and a CT scan, but said that we should expect to go home that night. The results of my bloodwork came back and showed “oddities” so he went to consult another physician. While my wife and I were waiting for the doctor to return, I had another seizure. My wife called the doctor and nurses into the room so they could witness what was happening. They stabilized me then rushed me to the imaging room so I could get scanned immediately. The results of the CT scan showed an 8.3cm mass, roughly the size of an orange in my brain.

The ER doctor and his attending were reviewing the results and plan of treatment with my wife and I when I had yet another seizure. Concerned, the physicians immediately put me on an anti-seizure medication and transferred me to AdventHealth Orlando. Shockingly, I suffered several more seizures on the way there, so the physicians chose to intubate me to prevent further brain damage.

After further testing, the care team decided to perform a craniotomy and remove as much of the mass as possible the next afternoon. My neurosurgeon was Dr. Melvin Field, and he was able to remove 90% of the mass after only two hours of surgery. Physically, I felt fine and–miraculously–I was cognitively the same as I was before the surgery. To this day, I have yet to have another seizure.

Even though the surgery was successful, my cancer journey was far from over. The post-op pathology report came back with a devastating grade 4 astrocytoma diagnosis, the highest grade possible for this form of brain cancer. We were then introduced to the “star quarterback” of the AdventHealth neurooncology care team, Dr. Sherif Makar.

a man in a hospital bed

Dr. Makar asked if I wanted to know the prognosis for a grade 4 astrocytoma, but I felt that going into treatment with the right mindset –— in a positive mental state — would give me the best chance to recover well. Dr. Makar respected my decision to not receive the prognosis and explained the next steps of treatment which included six weeks of concurrent chemotherapy and radiation.

He also shared that my diagnosis qualified me for a clinical trial called Optune by Novocure. He explained that this device was an FDA approved treatment which attaches directly to your scalp and releases electronic fields to prevent the cancer cells from replicating. The clinical trial was testing whether beginning this treatment along with chemo-radiation will yield better results than getting it after completing the 6 weeks. As fate would have it, I was randomized to the arm of the trial that began treatment earlier.

I was encouraged by how well my body responded to the treatment, other than minor fatigue. After six weeks of radiation, I rang the bell. The next 12 months was filled with maintenance chemotherapy, routine MRI’s. All of the scans showed a small portion of my brain that reacted to contrast, which could mean remnants of cancer or scar tissue from surgery.

Finally in September of 2023, I had another one of my MRI scans but the results showed nothing was lighting up at all. Dr. Makar explained that this was a total response to treatment. I am beyond excited to share that every MRI since has shown the same results: no cancer.

I am still utilizing the Optune therapy and get MRI scans every 3 months with occasional checkups with Dr. Makar and Dr. Field. I feel great physically; I am blessed beyond measure! My support system — my amazing family — has been with me every step of the way, and I would not be here without them. I want to thank everyone who has prayed for me at my church and all around the world. My health care team: the doctors, nurses, administrative and research staff at AdventHealth are without equal. I cannot thank or recommend them enough. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in my treatment and recovery. I pray my story can help inspire and bring hope to people who are sick; I hope it can move those who are able to help fund further research in this much deserved field.”

If you would like to support groundbreaking cancer research at AdventHealth, visit

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