Think Neuro

22. Coping with a Glioblastoma Diagnosis | Dr. Akanksha Sharma & Maria Quiban Whitesell

Episode Summary

There are few cancers more challenging than glioblastomas. While there is currently no cure for these brain tumors, patients and their caregivers can take steps to maximize their quality of life once they learn their diagnosis. Dr. Akanksha Sharma and TV meteorologist and author Maria Quiban Whitesell both know a lot about doing just that. Dr. Sharma is a neuro-oncologist at PNI, where she treats patients with brain cancer. She says that what makes glioblastomas so difficult is that they spread throughout glial cells in the brain like flakes of pepper in a pile of salt. Glial cells support and protect neurons in the brain, and surgery can only remove so many of the malignant ones. As a palliative medicine specialist, her aim is to open and hold space for patients to have meaningful conversations and honest dialog with their nearest and dearest, for them to savor and create new cherished memories, and to make the most of their time. Maria lost her husband to glioblastoma and wrote a book about her loss called You Can’t Do It Alone: A Widow’s Journey Through Loss, Grief and Life After. This conversation shows how caregivers can muster the strength to do some of the hardest work there is and keep going—for their patients and their families—in the face of one of life’s most difficult challenges. For more information please visit