David Band's Ependymoma



David Band's Chronic Medical Condition



A few months after we moved to Maryland in 2001, I started having mild but persistent back pains. Two Jewish mothers (my mother and my wife) browbeat me into seeing my doctor. Fortunately, at every stage the medical establishment was more aggressive in testing than it probably should have been, resulting in an MRI that found that my spinal cord was studded with tumors (no, that's not how the doctors describe it). A surgical biopsy showed that the tumors are ependymoma, a rare near-cancer tumor of the central nervous system. Ependymoma usually shows up in children in the brain, with a poor prognosis, and in adults on the spinal cord, with a better prognosis (doesn't that sound comforting?). My case was unusual in that many tumors were discovered at once; this made me interesting enough to be treated at NIH. Fortunately, we had just moved to within a few miles of the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD.

Therefore, in the spring of 2002 my entire spine was irradiated, and then I took Temodar (a relatively mild chemotherapy drug) for 18 months. The tumors were suppressed by the radiation (and Temodar?) for three years. In 2005 a tumor in my neck started to grow again and was removed surgically in August, 2005; I went up to Mass General for proton therapy to 'mop up' the site of the tumor. Just before New Years 2006 a tumor was discovered in my brain; it was irradiated in early 2006 and is not currently a concern. This renewed activity of my tumors started me on the path of progressively more aggressive chemotherapy. After two cycles of Temodar, I spent a year on carboplatin. By the summer of 2007 the carboplatin had caused neuropathy, and appeared to lose its effectiveness since at least one tumor was growing. A tumor in the cauda equina was first irradiated that summer, and finally removed surgically in the spring of 2008. I am now about to start Avastin treatments.

Over the course of this medical adventure I wrote and sent to our friends and family a series of circulars describing my experiences to keep them up-to-date. We have been very gratified by the expressions of concern and interest. Many have suggested that I 'do' something with these circulars, in particular since I've experienced some new physics-based treatments and tests. Thus I have decided to post the circulars.

I am not a doctor (excuse me, a medical doctor), and therefore, please do not rely on the contents of this website for medical guidance.


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  Written and maintained by David Band.
Last revised March 12, 2008.