November 21, 2023
In my last blog, I wrote off the top of my head the history and progression of The University of Kansas Health System’s program “Morning Medical Update,” which hits Facebook Live and YouTube Live every day at 8 a.m.
In this edition, I’ll go over the 4 episodes of MMU that aired recently on 2 local TV stations, KCTV5 in Kansas City and WIBW-TV 13 in Topeka. This series, “Morning Medical Update: Cancer: Choices, Hope and Science,” allowed our team to take their storytelling to a bigger and wider audience – not for the sake of the show itself but to highlight our outstanding cancer teams in 4 heartwarming, and sometimes heart wrenching, stories.
In watching all 4 episodes again, it’s clear the patients are the real heroes. But boy, our people do amazing work. You can see episodes 1, 2, 3 and 4 here. Below is a quick overview (or preview, if you like) of each.
Baseball can wait
As a Royals fan, it was easy for me to cheer on the Texas Rangers to a World Series title this month over the Arizona Diamondbacks. A former Royals pitcher, general manager and front office employees are now with the Rangers, and their franchise won their first title in its 61 year history.
It was really fun to watch the Rangers beat the state-rival Houston Astros. But when you watch the first episode of the series, you might be cheering for the Astros next year. Houston’s Double A minor league team is in Corpus Christi. And the Hooks have a pitcher on staff, Jonathan Sprinkle, who turned out to be the best bone marrow transplant match for his sister, Amanda, who suffers from acute myeloid leukemia.
As this episode explains, 2 of the family’s kids inherited a gene mutation making them susceptible to cancer. And sure enough, they got it. Jonathan doesn’t have the gene and didn’t hesitate for a second to leave baseball to donate. He’s back in his offseason throwing regimen, and Amanda’s coming along very well. What came through more than anything was the love and loyalty of this family.
“I don’t think we could get any closer as a family unit if we tried anymore,” Amanda said.
Someone you love will live because of this cancer center.” Jamie Wagner, DOBreast surgical oncologist
Surgery vs. no surgery
Episode 2 told the stories of 2 men facing the same diagnosis who were following very different treatments. And both were exactly right.
Paul Hentzen, a retired lawyer in his late 60s, took the news of his prostate cancer as motivation to start exercising, eating right and doing lots of research. He came to The University of Kansas Cancer Center to get a second opinion and settled on a protocol without surgery. He received radiation, hormone therapy and what’s called brachytherapy, where tiny radiation “seeds” are injected into the prostate. A little buffer these days from working out with his son, Paul shows very little cancer remaining and expects a full recovery.
By contrast, Randy Collins elected for surgery after packing several of his family members into a room with our team to discuss options. His cancer was stage II, and he’s on the road to recovery. Collins’ daughter, Camille, appeared with him during the episode’s interview segment.
“We needed to show him that he had our support.”
Triple-negative breast cancer
Episode 3 also featured 2 stories, this time women with breast cancer. Allison Lackey of Lee’s Summit came to The University of Kansas Cancer Center with the frightening diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer. Our doctors suspected and confirmed she’d been misdiagnosed and set her on an appropriate lumpectomy and radiation protocol. She believes seeking a second opinion here saved her life.
The episode’s second woman profiled, Autumn Early, did have triple-negative breast cancer even though she had been cleared months before by a mammogram and ultrasound at another facility. When she woke up last Christmas Day with a pain near her right arm, she got it checked out but kept ignoring a prompting in the back of her head that perhaps she wasn’t in the clear after all. Her cancer diagnosis came after she sought a second opinion from our cancer center, and our team jumped into action.
“Someone you love will live because of this cancer center,” Jamie Wagner, DO, breast surgical oncologist and division director of breast surgical oncology, said in the episode.
Baby battles back
How in the world do you top any of these stories? Well, we weren’t trying to, knowing that each patient’s journey spoke for itself. But if you are going to have a showstopper, it has to be a baby.
The fourth and final episode of ”Cancer: Choices, Hope and Science” featured the story of little Camaya Meade and her battle with brain cancer. Camaya appeared to have been born healthy. Then at about 6 months, she stopped babbling, stopped making eye contact and experienced swelling in her head. Doctors discovered the cancer, and Camaya underwent chemotherapy. What chemo couldn’t wipe out of the golf-ball-sized tumor in her head, proton therapy did over a 5-and-a-half-week treatment. The best part of this episode, besides an encouraging prognosis, was listening to our caregivers coo over Camaya as they got her ready.
“I would have loved to have never seen it, but seeing so many people love and care for my daughter, it makes you feel good as a parent,” her mom, Carmen, said.
There you go. A summary of the 4 episodes of “Morning Media Update: Cancer: Choices, Hope and Science.” I can only summarize so well. You owe it to yourself to watch all 4 in their entirety.
The series was so good, we should air one like it again on local TV. Can’t wait for Episode 5.