This past summer, David Krausman was diagnosed with a fast-growing brain tumor, one that threatened to take his life in just over a year. It was a diagnosis he wasn't willing to accept.
He still had a lot of living to do.
If an email that Krausman, who visited Germany last year for a treatment to attack the cancerous tumor, recently received from his doctor overseas is any indication, the Chandler man appears to be right.
"Christmas is all about love and hope," the email began. "I don't have a moment's doubt that you are getting enough love from your family and I am extremely happy and pleased giving out the latter."
The email was sent on Christmas Eve and it was the first of the tangible good news for Krausman and his wife, Mary, since his battle began last summer.
"It's the miracle we've been looking for," Mary said with emotion choking her voice. "It's just lifted my heart. It's just amazing."
The bad news had started mid-2011 with a few small symptoms noticeable only to his wife - namely slower reaction time and slightly slurred speech. Before running a marathon in San Francisco with his daughter, Krausman agreed to get an all-clear from the doctor.
They ran blood tests, scheduled MRIs and, in the end, the tumor was discovered. Eventually, Krausman was referred to the Barrow Neurological Institute of St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.
At Barrow, Krausman was given the traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Because of the placement of the tumor, it is inoperable. Even the attempt to remove the tumor could leave Krausman permanently paralyzed.
Instead, it was important to slow the growth of the tumor and hopefully shrink it. Krausman took charge of his own fate and soon learned about doctors in Germany using a new treatment to get rid of cancer cells in a very different way.
The Krausmans spent weeks traveling back and forth from their home in Chandler to a clinic in Cologne, Germany during the times between traditional chemo treatments at Barrow. At the IOZK clinic (short for Immunologisches und Onkologisches Zentrum Koln), Krausman spent most of every day receiving therapy, interjected with drives in the countryside and along the Rhine River.
During his time there, he received heat radiation therapy, which targeted the tumor in a very precise way, a type of immunization that taught his immune system to target the specific cancer cells and the Newcastle Disease Virus, which alters tumor cells and marks them for the immune system to destroy.
Finally on Christmas Eve, Krausman learned in a simple email some news he was hoping to hear: His tumor was responding to treatment and his body was actively attacking the cancer. All of his blood work was exactly where it needed to be.
"I really do think it's working," Mary said. "It's really obvious now, but we're hoping when we go in for the next MRI in about a month that it will be what Dave calls, ‘Super obvious.'"
For now, MRIs are showing that the tumor has shrunk, perhaps regressing 30 percent, Krausman said. What's more, it's also not as dense as it once was.
"Originally it was pecan-sized and it was white-bright white (on the MRI)," his wife said. "Now it's gray or black in spots."
And while the Krausmans are returning to Germany again in about a week, they're hopeful this round of treatment will be even more successful.
Both admit that it's going to take some time until David is completely well. He is still on steroids and has a few side effects from his most recent round of chemo.
"I've got to keep going because it seems to be working," he said - a statement that's nothing short of an understatement to his wife.
And if things keep on going as they have been, then the milestones that Krausman considers to be his most important goals - meeting his two grandchildren who will be born this spring, attending his daughter's wedding in July and eventually, a couple of decades down the line, celebrating his 75th wedding anniversary - might be within reach.
To read more about David Krausman and his journey, visit http://evtnow.com/krausman.
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