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, and modern medicine can take pride in curing many of these.

However, many brain tumours grow rapidly. They multiply and invade the entire expanse of the brain—taking hostage of the brain, one territory at a time: speech, motor movement, sensation, vision, awareness, personality… and as added insult, they short-circuit the entire cerebral function by means of a seizure or convulsion. These are the truly cancerous side-effects—malignant, in every sense of the word. They can develop primarily in the brain tissue or they can spread to the brain from other cancers in the body, for example, breast, lung, or colon cancers.

Effectively our goal is to protect, maintain and restore the humanity endangered by a cancerous brain tumour. Protection and maintenance constitutes our current care models, and restoration constitutes our current treatment and research strategies.

We also have initiatives in place to establish the day when my position won’t be needed anymore—because brain tumours will be as easily cured as a dental abscess. Seriously.

More to come about pathology reports and the brain.

Brian

Head, Division of Neurosurgery, UBC/VGH; Assistant Professor, UBC, Department Surgery; Director, BrainCare BC, BC Cancer Agency