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Clearly I have over-extended my invitation, so this is my last post (and with 2012 just around the corner, the next blogger is already on standby, I’m told).

I note that there are a lot of “I,” “me,” “my” and “mine” in my posts, but it certainly was not my intent to make this a self-serving exposé on Brian Toyota.

In fact, the sum total of all that I have described in terms of...

My life as a brain surgeon

I like being a brain surgeon. I like my work. The operating room is my office, and I get to say things like “STAT” and “scalpel.” Although, I have never once said “STAT” except to imitate some character on M.A.S.H., and I have always called a “scalpel” a “knife” for reasons I don’t really remember.

I know I can under-impress people after they find out what I do. I rarely have...

“It ain’t brain surgery”

Now I’d like to focus on brain surgery. You’ve likely heard the phrase “it ain’t brain surgery” used in a casual conversation, but it’s not to me—it IS brain surgery.

Every once in a while there is a situation where surgical removal of a tumour isn’t safe. In truth, I can operate on any tumour in any part of the brain—it is never a technical limitation—but in some situations, I would do...

Shedding light on treatment options

There is a lot of information available about current treatment strategies for brain cancers, but I’d like to touch on just a few points here.

First of all, until about five years ago, the outcomes for brain cancer were stagnant for decades and there was very little progress. At that time a new drug, called Temozolamide, was used in combination with surgery and radiation which resulted...

Our dedicated effort at the BC Cancer Agency

We have expanded our brain tumour team (in the Neuro-Oncology Group) with the addition of patient and family counsellors, nurses, and occupational therapists. These professionals ensure that all facets of care are attended to, including blood tests, X-ray results, wound healing and beyond. We have decreased the wait times for consultation, treatment, testing, imaging, and even surgery. Less...

Information, knowledge, and understanding

In the Neuro-Oncology Group at the BC Cancer Agency, we are driven to use our experience to improve the flow and breadth of care for patients. It is not sufficient to simply watch hundreds, actually thousands, of reactions to those awful words, “you have brain cancer.”  We have used these observations to answer the question: How can we make this situation better?

Cancer is a diagnosis...

The pathology report says, “You have brain cancer.”

Though I have spoken those words literally hundreds of times, I don’t really know what it feels like to receive those words. I have, however, seen a stunning emotional range of reactions.

One of my first duties, in the protection and maintenance of humanity (from my last post), is to anticipate how the person in front of me is going to want to hear those words. That anticipation starts...

Defining “brain tumour”

By itself, the term brain tumour is monstrous. And to receive it as a diagnosis is paralyzing.

Our humanity is defined by our brains—a brain tumour is therefore a direct attack on it. All those who have endured a brain tumour, and all those who have witnessed a loved one endure a brain tumour, know this too well.

Many brain tumours are very slow growing, which we term benign...

Dr. Brian Toyota: Who is this guy?

Hello, my name is Brian Toyota. I am very pleased to be the BC Cancer Foundation’s December guest blogger.

I was invited to guest blog because I am the Provincial Chair of Neuro-Oncology at the BC Cancer Agency (the Agency). This also means I am responsible for maintaining the highest possible level of care for all people diagnosed with a brain tumour in the province of B.C. and to...

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