Make Pain a Thing of the Past – Cancer – Physician Partners of America

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Admired figure in war and politics suffered from aggressive glioblastoma

Known for bravery and grit in war and in politics, Sen. John McCain lost his battle with brain cancer on Saturday, Aug. 25 at his home in Arizona. He was 81.

Who was Sen. John McCain?

Often described as a “maverick,” McCain was at different times both a unifying and polarizing force in the political world. However, he was widely respected for steadfast values, bipartisanship and service to our country.

The son and grandson of four-star Navy admirals, John McCain was catapulted onto the national stage when he was captured during the Vietnam War in 1967 and held as a prisoner by the North Vietnamese for five-and-a-half years.

He suffered excruciating torture, including daily beatings and two years of solitary confinement. The physical scars stayed with him for life; he was unable to lift his arms over his head or comb his own hair.

Offered early release because of his father’s position, he declined, refusing release before the men who had been captured before him. He instantly became a symbol of heroism and courage. This reputation propelled him into politics, first in the House of Representatives in 1982, where he served his home state for two terms, and later as a five-term senator.

Sen. John McCain  – Political Career

Sen. John McCain unsuccessfully ran for president twice, in 2000 and 2008, but earned bipartisan respect for his work in the Senate. His best-known achievement was the landmark campaign finance reform legislation known as the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002.

John McCain’s Battle with Cancer

A survivor of the skin cancer melanoma, McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2017. He died a day after ending treatment.

This form of brain cancer also took the lives of Sen. Joe Biden’s son, Beau, and Sen. Edward Kennedy. It accounts for 17 percent of all brain tumors and is particularly resistant to treatment. It kills about 15,000 people in the U.S. each year.

The majority of people diagnosed with this disease live less than two years, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Although he faced down adversaries across battle lines and political aisles, this is one enemy that overtook him. Physician Partners of America is honored to treat patients suffering from cancer pain, and with admiration and respect, we salute the memory of Sen. John McCain.

Interviewer: Sadly, getting cancer at some point in your life is all too common in this country, but the pain from cancer doesn’t have to be. Dr. Rudy Gari is here from Florida Pain Relief Group to talk about this, as well as pain that can persist even after cancer is gone. Dr. Gari, great to have you back.

Dr. Gari: My pleasure, Thank you.

Interviewer: Let’s talk about this. How many patients who have gone through cancer, have been treated, still have pain afterward?

Dr. Gari: Well, unfortunately…fortunately, if they’ve been treated and cured, that’s a great thing, but a lot of times that cancer can spread to different nerves and can cause damage to some of those nerves, so it can leave a long-lasting painful injury even after you’ve been very blessed by having the cancer cure.

Interviewer: Okay, so what are some kinds of different cancer pain that people experience?

Dr. Gari: So, basically, cancer pain is associated with any type of cancer that ends up affecting the organs, your nerves, anything like that. In fact, my first patient that I had after I finished my training out of medical school in residency was a patient that was dying of cancer, and I remember her vividly because she came to me and she said, “Doctor,” say says, “I’m going to die, but my mother died of the same thing. She had breast cancer. All that I want to do is, I don’t want to die in pain.” So I said, “You are not going to.” She was referred to me by an oncologist. Most oncologists, if not all of them, they do a great job of taking care of that pain, but there are some patients that, after medications, you’re still going to, you might have some pain, and she said, “I just want to be able to spend my last days without pain.” We ended up putting in something called a morphine pump implant that allowed medications with a very small amount of morphine to go into the spinal cord that actually gave her pain relief.



Interviewer: So, apart from this morphine implant pump, and which helped her immensely, what else do you have out there to treat this pain?

Dr. Gari: Well, we have everything. So, we have every possible tool that’s available in the field today, including allografts, stem cells, nerve blocks, medications, physical therapy, things called radio-frequency. We can do what’s called cryotherapy. We can burn the little nerves out that are causing pain. We can put in something called smogra stimulators, morphine pumps. There is an incredible amount of tools available to physicians like myself that specialize in pain management to be able to treat cancer pain other than just giving medications.

Interviewer: Why are they experiencing this pain?

Dr. Gari: Well they experience this pain because of the fact that, just think about it, if you hit your nerves, it’s painful. So that cancer can spread, and it can spread and it can cause a distension of different organs. It can cause…it can impinge on the nerves. It can cause significant pain.

Interviewer: Okay, so for anybody out there’s who’s watching right now, who’s going through this, there’s definitely relief.

Dr. Gari: We can help you, yes, absolutely.

Interviewer: Okay, Dr. Gari, thank you very much. The Florida Pain Relief Group even offers same-day appointments. You can visit their website, or give them a call, 844-KICK-PAIN. Dr. Rudy Gari, great to have you back.

Dr. Gari: Thank you.

Interviewer: We’ll be right back.