Living With Brain Cancer
- “Dakota” Fred Hurt, star of Discovery’s “Gold Rush: White Water,” recently shared that he is battling stage 4 brain cancer, though he did not say what type.
- In a recent update for fans, he shared that the overwhelming amount of support he’s received online has been helping him find strength during his fight.
- tThe most common form of brain cancer is called glioblastoma. While it is incurable, it is treatable, with more and more hope for patients living longer lives these days.
- All brain cancers are tumors, but not all brain tumors are cancerous. Doctors tend to speak of brain tumors rather than brain cancers because even so-called benign (noncancerous) brain tumors can be serious and even life-threatening.
- The most common symptoms of a brain tumor may include: headaches; seizures or convulsions; difficulty thinking, speaking or finding words; personality or behavior changes; weakness and more.
- We’ve talked to many cancer survivors over the years about the importance of finding support during a cancer journey. Whether it’s through a support group, friends, family, a therapist or social media, it’s important to consider opening up to others during your cancer battle.
In March 2023, the Discovery TV personality who’s gained popularity for sharing his riveting hunts for gold with viewers explained that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer.Read More
Inspiring Brain Cancer Survivors
- Kicking Cancer’s Ass — One Survivor’s Advice for Taking On Brain Cancer
- His Brain Cancer Appeared in 4th Grade, But This Teenage Survivor Has Big Plans for the Future
- California Teen Beat Brain Cancer But Still Fights Physical and Emotional Toll — Now She’s Dedicated to Improving Experiences of Other Young Survivors
Learning About the “Gold Rush” Star’s Cancer“Dakota” Fred Hurt has not revealed his exact type of brain cancer. But here’s what we know about brain tumors and cancer. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), brain tumors account for 85-90% of all primary central nervous system (CNS) tumors. The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system – the main “processing center” for the nervous system as a whole. Can Cell Phones & 5G Cause Cancer? A Leading Brain Cancer Doctor Says “No” All brain cancers are tumors, but not all brain tumors are cancerous. Noncancerous brain tumors are called benign brain tumors, and cancerous ones are called malignant. But doctors tend to speak of brain tumors rather than brain cancers because even so-called benign (noncancerous) brain tumors can be serious and even life-threatening.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, benign brain tumors typically grow slowly, have distinct borders and rarely spread. They can damage and compress parts of the brain, causing severe dysfunction. Malignant brain tumors, or brain cancers, typically grow rapidly and invade surrounding healthy brain structures. Brain cancer can be life-threatening due to the changes it causes to the vital structures of the brain.
Generally speaking, the most common symptoms of a brain tumor may include:
- Seizures or convulsions
- Difficulty thinking, speaking or finding words
- Personality or behavior changes
- Weakness, numbness or paralysis in one part or one side of the body
- Loss of balance, dizziness or unsteadiness
- Loss of hearing
- Vision changes
- Confusion and disorientation
- Memory loss
In addition, MD Anderson Cancer Center says changes in the ability to smell can be a sign of brain tumors, and, more specifically, “strange smells” can be a symptom of seizures which can result from brain tumors.
RELATED: There Is New Hope for Those Fighting the Same Cancer That Took John McCain & Ted Kennedy; Using Polio & Immunotherapy to Fight Brain Tumors
Although brain tumor symptoms are not exclusive to brain tumors, you should always contact your doctor if anything seems off with your health. You never know when speaking up could lead to a crucial diagnosis.
Meanwhile, 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.”
Finding Support During a Cancer Battle
There are many different ways to find support during a cancer battle. For “Gold Rush” star “Dakota” Fred Hurt, opening up to others online has allowed him to receive immense support from loving fans.
Kate Hervey, a synovial sarcoma survivor who received her diagnosis as a young college girl, found a similar outcome by sharing her cancer journey on TikTok.
Inspiring College Student, 20, Builds Community on TikTok Sharing Her Cancer Journey During COVID-19
“One thing that was nice about TikTok that I loved and why I started posting more and more videos is how many people I was able to meet through TikTok and social media that are going through the same things,” Hervey said. “I still text with this one girl who is 22. If I’m having a hard time, I will text her because she will understand. As much as my family and friends are supportive, it’s hard to vent to someone who doesn’t know what it’s really like.”
Now cancer-free, Hervey says she couldn’t have done it without the love and support of her TikTok family.
“I feel like I’ve made an impact on other people and they have made an impact on me through TikTok, which is crazy to say,” she explained. “I can help people go through what I’ve been going through as well.”
But if you’re someone who doesn’t want to share their health battle online, know there are many other options for finding support. When Robyn Smith was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer, for example, her church community became a saving grace.
Finding Support Through Her Church — Ovarian Cancer Survivor Robyn Smith’s Story
“He would bring over like six meals that he had cooked all in that day, so they were super fresh, and I would chow through those,” she said of her pastor’s efforts to regularly bring Smith home-cooked meals. “My appetite would never be better than that.
“I don’t know what he did, but they were magical meals… It’s amazing how things turn, and what you need you actually get.”
Therapy can also be a great way to focus on your mental health and feel supported. Ovarian cancer survivor Ni Guttenfelder previously spoke with SurvivorNet about finding a counselor you’re comfortable with and trust during a cancer journey.
Ovarian Cancer Survivor Stresses the Importance of Finding the Right Counselor to Support You Through Your Journey
“Initially I went to a session where I just cried and the counselor basically told me what I was feeling was normal and didn’t offer me any type of feedback. But I knew that I needed something more than that. Not just a crying session and a pat on my shoulder,” she said. “What I have found is that it’s critical to find the right counselor, not just any counselor.”
Once she found a counselor she could truly open up to, Guttenfelder began to see some clarity.
“One of the things that my counselor has taught me from the very beginning that has helped me is the concept of acceptance,” she says. “Acceptance is a process. It’s like downloading a computer file in increments. Visualizing it in that way has really helped me.”
Whether it’s through a support group, friends, family, a therapist or social media, it’s important to consider opening up to others during your cancer battle. There are no right or wrong answers, but you never know how much the support can help you – or help those you share with – unless you try.
Learn more about SurvivorNet's rigorous medical review process.