As brain tumor patient learned, sometimes a second opinion isn’t enough

July 11, 2014 | by

At age 44, Bridget Hanchette, a mother of three from La Crosse, Wisconsin, was diagnosed with grade IV glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of malignant brain tumor.

Bridget's doctors told her she only had a year to live. Then she met neurosurgeon Dr. Badie. That was 5 years ago.

Former brain tumor patient Bridget Hanchette is thankful she found neurosurgeon Behnam Badie, M.D. Other doctors told she had only a year to live; he saved her life. This past June, she celebrated being cancer-free for five-years.

The cancer grows and spreads quickly, making it difficult to treat. Most patients with this diagnosis are not given much hope, but Hanchette’s initial consult and even her second opinion came with more grim news: Surgery was off the table. Because of the location of the tumor, an operation would likely leave her paralyzed.

With surgery no longer an option, she was told that she only had about a year to live. That answer did not sit well with Hanchette and her family.

“After hearing that no one could touch my tumor, that it was inoperable, incurable and I’d only have a year to live supposedly, we decided to continue our quest to find a more hopeful path,” Hanchette said.

That path led her to City of Hope and neurosurgeon Behnam Badie, M.D., director of the Brain Tumor Program at City of Hope.

“I can’t really say how powerful it was the day when Dr. Badie called us,” Hanchette said. “We were at our house … feeling completely distraught, when Dr. Badie called and said, ‘I can do this.’"

Badie not only agreed to perform the operation on Hanchette, he helped her enroll in a clinical trial, designed for her type of tumor. The trial used gene therapy administered to the tumor cavity site during surgery to make cancer cells more vulnerable to subsequent radiation and chemotherapy.

The surgery and experimental treatment worked. Hanchette has now been cancer-free for five years and counting — with no paralysis.

“I am so glad we continued our search and found Dr. Badie,” Hanchette said during a recent visit to City of Hope. “We just feel so blessed.”

To commemorate Hanchette’s five-year survival, she and her husband flew to California last month to visit with Badie and made a donation to City of Hope’s Brain Tumor Program. Their donation helped fund a crucial tissue-sampling device, which will help reduce patients' wait time for test results.

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Learn more about getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting us online or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

Support the Brain Tumor Program at City of Hope to help advance lifesaving treatments that impact patients everywhere. To donate, please contact Kimberly Wah at 213-241-7275 or kwah@coh.org for more information.