Learning About Wayne Osmond's Brain Tumor
- The Osmond brothers were a popular music group in the 1960s and 70s and sold over 100 million albums worldwide.
- Wayne Osmond had difficulty playing the saxophone during performances and experienced throbbing headaches prior to a tumor diagnosis.
- Ependymoma is a rare type of tumor impacting the primary central nervous system originating in the brain or spinal cord.
- An estimated 13,294 people are living with an ependymoma tumor in the United States according to the National Cancer Institute.
- Treatment options for ependymoma tumors include surgery, radiation therapy, radio surgery, chemotherapy, and clinical trials.
My brother, Merrill and his wife Mary, are going to serve a mission for our church @Ch_JesusChrist.
Debbie and I went to their farewell in St. George, Utah over the weekend and it was a wonderful experience to see some of my brothers again. pic.twitter.com/fMpK9WubLERead More— Donny Osmond (@donnyosmond) March 28, 2023 From top left to bottom right, Tom, Merrill, Donny, Jimmy, Alan, Wayne.
The Osmond brothers first appeared on NBC in 1962, where they performed “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas” during the “Andy Williams Show,” according to the group’s management team. The brothers sold over 100 million albums, according to This Day in Music, throughout their fruitful careers which spanned several decades.
The brothers experienced wild success with their family band and became staples in American households. The brothers continued to play music over the decades, with Donny going for a solo career and the four older brothers foraying into country music. But for Wayne Osmond, his career took a detour while performing onstage in Missouri in 1994.
“I noticed I couldn’t play my saxophone anymore because my head would start throbbing,” Wayne Osmond told Coping Magazine.
“My knees would fall out from under me when I was on stage. This all began happening in a week,” Wayne Osmund added.
Wayne went to his doctor in the middle of touring to figure out what was going on. Tests revealed he had a 2-inch-long tumor in his cerebellum, a portion of the brain in the back of the head. After the discovery, he was diagnosed with ependymoma, a type of brain tumor that begins in cells lining the spinal cord central canal, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Osmond was quickly scheduled for surgery, where doctors removed 97% of the tumor during a 17-hour long procedure.
“My doctor Alan took out the primary tumor, but my cerebellum was full of fingers where the cancer had spread. That’s why I was falling over because the fingers were way up inside. There were hundreds of them and Alan stood there for hours and hours just pulling out all those little fingers,” Wayne described.
Ependymoma is a primary central nervous system tumor originating in the brain or spinal cord. It can occur at any age with most cases occurring in children, but in adults the tumor can cause weakness in parts of the body controlled by the nerves affected by the tumor, according to Mayo Clinic.
An estimated 13,294 people are living with an ependymoma tumor in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Central nervous system tumors are graded based on their type, location, how much it’s spread in the body, patient age and the amount of tumor fragments remaining after surgery. Ependymomas are graded depending on how fast the tumor is growing. Malignant or cancerous tumors are grade 3, because they grow the fastest, according to the National Cancer Institute.
According to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, these are the major types:
Subependymoma (grade I). This is a slow-growing tumor near the brain ventricles. It’s more common in adults than children. Many times, they don’t cause symptoms.
Myxopapillary ependymoma (grade I). This is a slow-growing, lower spinal cord tumor most common in male adults.
Classic ependymoma (grade II). This is a somewhat faster-growing tumor in both children and adults. There are many subtypes.
Anaplastic ependymoma (grade III). This is a fast-growing cancerous tumor often in the base of the brain and rarely in the spinal cord. It tends to spread into nearby parts of the brain and spread to other parts of the brain. These tumors tend to come back after treatment.
It’s not clear what type of tumor Wayne had, but he has described his condition as cancer.
Symptoms and Risk Factors for Ependymoma
In people with ependymoma, symptoms may experience the following depending on the tumor’s location.
- Back pain
- Numbness and weakness in your arms, legs, or trunk
- Problems with sexual and urinary or bowels
Treatment options for ependymoma tumors include surgery, radiation therapy, radio surgery, chemotherapy, and clinical trials, according to Mayo Clinic.
After Wayne’s surgery, which removed most of the tumor, he had to undergo six weeks of radiation. The treatment method for his tumor proved successful, because just six months after his diagnosis, he was declared cancer free.
During radiation therapy, high-energy beams such as X-rays or protons are used to kill the cancer cells. This form of therapy helps prevent more aggressive tumors from recurring or if doctors were not able to remove the tumor completely during surgery.
WATCH: What Does Radiation Feel Like?
After Wayne’s surgery and radiation therapy, he recalled he anxiously awaited results from an MRI. He described the felt relief to know all signs of his tumor were gone.
“Now we are going to start calling you the Miracle Baby; your cancer is gone” Wayne’s doctor told him after he anxiously awaited the MRI results.
Wayne said he was quick to recover, both physically and mentally, and he was back to performing six months later.
“I wore my cowboy hat on stage since all of my hair had fallen out from radiation,” he joked.
While Wayne said his tumor grew back “after a while,” he seems to be in good spirits today, as evidence from the big smile on his face in Donny’s photo.
When it came to getting through his cancer journey, he credits his wife of nearly 50 years.
“The greatest part of all this is that I’ve become even closer with my sweetheart, Kathy. She’s an absolute angel. I’m a very, very blessed man. That’s what I am,” he said.
“I look back at it and I think to myself, I’m glad that I got cancer. Isn’t that something? It really opened up my eyes. It made me realize that life really is important,” Wayne added.
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