Finding Strength Through Cancer
- “Dakota” Fred Hurt, star of Discovery’s “Gold Rush: White Water,” has been diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer.
- He hopes to find more adventures that he can share with fans despite his diagnosis.
- Hurt did not say what kind of brain cancer he has. But the most common form is called glioblastoma, which is a growth of cells that look like glial cells, or those that surround and support nerve cells in the brain tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Leaning on your personal strengths and values can be incredibly helpful in grounding yourself when you’re facing a cancer diagnosis, says our expert Dr. Samantha Boardman.
“I’ve lived a full 80 years of an interesting life. If I emerge from this dark diagnosis, I’ll have another adventure to share with you folks,” Hurt said in a press release from his production company, Thrill of the Hunt Entertainment.Read More
That zest for life in his later years is what drew so many viewers to Hurt, with countless people commenting on his Facebook post to offer support and encouregment after his diagnosis. The company said Hurt “greatly appreciates his fans” and has loved meeting them over the years.
What Kind of Brain Cancer Does Dakota Fred Hurt Have?
Hurt’s company did not say what specific kind of brain cancer he has, but there are many types of brain cancer. It happens when there is a growth of cells in or around the brain, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Some of these tumors grow quickly and some grow slowly.
The most common form of brain cancer is called glioblastoma, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is a type of glioma, which is a growth of cells that look like glial cells. Those surround and support nerve cells in the brain tissue.
While glioblastoma is incurable, it is treatable. There is more and more hope with patients living longer lives these days.
Dr. Henry Friedman, a renowned neuro-oncologist at Duke Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet that there is indeed more optimism surrounding this disease.
Dr. Friedman and his Duke colleagues are investigating a new therapy that combines the modified poliovirus and immunotherapy to treat glioblastoma. "The modified poliovirus is used to treat this tumor by injecting it directly into the tumor, through a catheter. It is designed to lyse the tumor and cause the tumor cells to basically break up," he explained.
"I think that the modified poliovirus is going to be a game-changer in glioblastoma," Dr. Friedman added, "but I should also say that its reach is now extending into melanoma (skin cancer) soon to bladder cancer."
Brain Cancer Symptoms and Treatment
Brain tumors don’t always cause symptoms, but they can affect a person’s brain function and overall health if they grow big enough and press on neary nerves, blood vessels or other tissues. Depending on where the tumor is located, it can cause difficulty walking or keeping balance, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Brain tumors can also cause:
- Dfficulty speaking or thinking
- Behavioral changes
- Vision changes
- Loss of hearing
- Memory loss
Risk factors for brain cancer include older age, race, exposure to strong types of radiation, and some inherited syndromes that increase the risk of brain cancer.
A doctor may diagnose a cancerous brain tumor by conducting a neurological exam, which tests things like balance, coordination and reflexes to see how your brain is functioning. They may also order imaging scans or collect tissue samples to test the tumor for cancer.
Treatment options for brain cancer depend on factors like the size, type, grade and location of the tumor. But they might include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, among others. For very slow-growing tumors, treatment might not be needed right away. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your specific situation and all the options available to treat your unique cancer.
The prognosis for brain cancer, or how likely it is to be cured, depends on a few things:
- The type of brain tumor
- How fast the brain tumor is growing
- The tumor’s location
- If there are DNA changes in thecells of the brain tumor
- If the entire tumor can be removed with surgery
- Your overall health
It’s important to discuss these specific details with your doctor to help understand what your cancer journey may look like.
Facing Cancer With Strength
Getting a cancer diagnosis, like the stage 4 result Hurt got, can be incredibly stressful. You should know it’s completely normal to feel a range of emotion — like anxiety, fear, sadness or anger. The disease is a mental challenge as well as a physical one.
One way to get yourself back to you, is to lean on your strengths and passions.
"I sometimes will ask patients, tell me about yourself when you were at your best," she explains. "Using that story, trying to figure out what strengths come to mind â€¦ is it patience? Is it appreciation of beauty? It is perseverance? [Then we can] use those strengths in constructive ways to navigate their cancer journey,” Dr. Samantha Boardman, a New York-based psychiatrist and author, told SurvivorNet.
Another way to harness strength in the face of such a daunting diagnosis is to tap into your values, says Dr. Boardman. This could be family, close friendships, spirituality, commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Reminding yourself of what your values are and how you are living accordingly is another way to unleash that inner strength.
Hurt’s dedication to seeking joy in life and his appreciation for family and friends will certainly be invaluable as he begins on his cancer journey.