LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4)– A man with stage 4 brain cancer is beating the odds. Bruce Stahlman has extended his life expectancy with a treatment at UCHealth: a portable, painless device.
He wears a sci-fi-looking skull cap with electrodes connected to a backpack.
“When I first got it, I kind of assumed I’d have a game of asteroids going on in my head,” he told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
He jokes about being called Buzz Lightyear.
But for Bruce, “This thing’s nothing, if not a blessing.”
Bruce is 64 years old. He is a husband and father of 3 boys including twins with cerebral palsy who passed away. In August 2018, Bruce started feeling sick.
“I figured I had a virus,” he said.
It was glioblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor. Bruce had surgery, aggressive chemotherapy and radiation.
“Initially, I was told 15 to 18 month life expectancy kind of thing,” he said.
In 2019, he started wearing the FDA-approved, battery-powered Optune device. Twenty-seven electrodes are stuck on his scalp for 18 hours every day.
“It’s an amazing technology,” said Dr. Doug Ney, neuro-oncologist at the CU Cancer Center and Bruce’s physician. He says Optune produces alternating electrical fields that target dividing cancer cells in the brain.
“They’re not allowed to grow. It sort of stops them in their tracks and then they die,” said Ney.
“It seems to be doing a wonderful job,” said Bruce.
Bruce is 32 months post-surgery. The twins lived with countless medical devices, so to Bruce, the painless Optune is not intrusive.
He knows it’s not a cure, “If it keeps working, I’m going to keep using it.”
And he hopes it keeps buying him time.