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November 17, 2021

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

by Anthony Effinger

The Think Neuro podcast from Pacific Neuroscience Institute takes you into the clinic, operating room and laboratory with doctors and surgeons who are tackling the most challenging brain diseases and disorders. Host: Anthony Effinger

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Episode 22: Show Notes

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.

Recording date: November 2021

About Dr. Akanksha Sharma

Akanksha Sharma MD

Akanksha Sharma, MD, is board certified in neurology, neuro-oncology and palliative medicine. She is experienced in the treatment of primary/metastatic brain tumors, neurological complications of cancer, and disease-related burden and symptoms. Her clinical and research interests lie in helping patients maximize their time and quality of life. She aims to align treatment with patient goals and to provide holistic care that includes careful symptom assessment and management, as well as support for the patient’s loved ones.

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About the Author

Anthony Effinger

Anthony Effinger

Think Neuro's host is Anthony Effinger, an award-winning journalist who is fascinated with neuroscience and the workings of the brain. Anthony spent 24 years at Bloomberg News, where he covered all aspects of finance, with forays into science and health. In 2006, the Association of Health Care Journalists awarded him first prize for Playing the Odds, an in-depth piece on the changing strategies used to treat prostate cancer. These days, he is a staff writer at Willamette Week, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Last updated: December 2nd, 2021