Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center
Pamela’s Brain Trust
New Patient Appointment or 214-645-4673
Pamela Kessler had noticed a few small signs before – forgetting what she had gone to the refrigerator for, having difficulty opening a doorknob – but she dismissed them as insignificant. However, when she awoke one morning and couldn’t move, she and her family knew it was something serious. A trip to the emergency room and a battery of tests revealed the cause – a gigantic tumor on her frontal lobe. Brain cancer.
Pamela had just turned 70 and been fairly healthy throughout her life, so the diagnosis was surprising. “It still startles me when I say I had brain cancer,” she says.
Medication helped some, but Pamela would need surgery and then rehabilitative care. The surgery excised most of the tumor, though not all because Pamela’s surgeon thought digging deeper to remove the entire tumor might cause total paralysis. And rehab afterward was “tiresome, wearing, and a struggle,” but she progressed through it.
She went to an oncologist for follow-up care to treat what remained of her cancer. The quickly prescribed course of care – chemotherapy followed by radiation – left her dismayed. “I thought there had to be a better way,” she says. Relatives told her to get a second opinion at UT Southwestern Simmons Cancer Center.
“Dr. Maher’s approach was so reasonable and understandable. I felt comfort and hope.”
At Simmons, Pamela met Elizabeth Maher, M.D., Ph.D., a medical oncologist and brain tumor expert. Dr. Maher advised investigating and watching the tumor further, rather than moving quickly, to ensure they had the right diagnosis and most appropriate form of treatment. “Dr. Maher’s approach was so reasonable and understandable,” Pamela says. “I felt comfort and hope.”
Dr. Maher recommended a specialized chemo regimen for Pamela’s specific type of tumor. The thoughtful, studied, personalized approach worked. Her cancer was eradicated.
“I just had my 75th birthday, and I’m feeling pretty good about life because of Dr. Maher and Simmons Cancer Center and all the people there,” Pamela says. “It’s a fabulous place.”
She adds, “When I got to Simmons Cancer Center, they investigated my cancer and knew how to approach it. They diagnosed me properly, and that is the key.”
Today, Pamela undergoes periodic MRIs to keep a close eye on her tumor site so the cancer can be caught early should it ever return. But she remains confident about the future. “If the ugly monster rears its head again, Dr. Maher and Simmons Cancer Center will be ready to treat me.”
Lisa Ross is a Cancer Exercise Trainer at UT Southwestern/Moncrief Cancer Institute. She provides tailored exercise services to assist cancer patients who are in-treatment and at any stage beyond. She helps minimize side effects of treatment and improve treatment efficacy, as well as improve their quality of life and live the life they want to live. Exercise services are offered in-gym as well as virtually via telehealth.