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Young Valley Mom Stuns Doctors by Beating Deadliest Brain Cancer

Given just months to live in 2006, a young Arizona woman, treated at St. Joseph’s Barrow Neurological Institute, has amazingly beat two brain tumors, outlived her projected life expectancy, and become a mother – all things no one ever thought imaginable.

When diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma brain tumor, the deadliest of brain cancers, in 2006, Heather Knies was facing a death sentence. Most people with her type of tumor – the same type of brain tumor Sen. Edward Kennedy died from – don’t live past 14 months. Knies not only beat her cancer but she has gotten married and became a mom to her daughter Zoe. Knies’ incredible outcome has shocked the medical community.

“It is very rare for a patient to survive as long as Heather has with this type of brain tumor. I am very, very surprised and elated that Heather has made such a remarkable recovery,” says her surgeon Robert Spetzler, MD, director of Barrow Neurological Institute and who is considered one of the world’s top brain surgeons. “She has no neurological deficits and her MRI scan demonstrates no evidence of any residual tumor.”

I knew I was getting the best medical care, and I was going to be defiant and survive.

-Heather Knies, Glioblastoma Survivor

Knies was originally treated for a lower grade brain tumor in 2005 at age 24. Even with treatment, her brain tumor was one that usually returns and transforms into a more aggressive type of tumor. One year later, her brain cancer returned, and this time, it was the deadliest of brain tumors – a grade 4 glioblastoma. Knies was facing a death sentence.

She underwent a very aggressive surgery by Dr. Spetzler at Barrow to remove as much of the tumor as possible. She then underwent radiation followed by three years of chemotherapy to treat the remainder of the tumor. Barrow is one of the world’s top brain tumor treatment centers.

More than 10 years later, Knies’ cancer has miraculously not returned. She believes that the advanced medical treatment she received along with her unbelievable positivity is what made her overcome her brain tumor. Her young daughter is also a miracle since chemotherapy can lead to infertility.

“I knew all along I would beat this cancer,” says Knies. “When a doctor tells you that you only have a few months to live, most people believe it. I never did, and I think that’s partly why I’m alive today. I knew I was getting the best medical care, and I was going to be defiant and survive.”

 

About Barrow

Since our doors opened as a regional specialty center in 1962, we have grown into one of the premier destinations in the world for neurology and neurosurgery. Our experienced, highly skilled, and comprehensive team of neurological specialists can provide you with a complete spectrum of care–from diagnosis through outpatient neurorehabilitation–under one roof. Barrow Neurological Institute: Discover. Educate. Heal.