Josh’s story

I have always been nocturnal for as long as I can remember. There is something strangely peaceful in the solitude of the night. A time for rebellious and lost thoughts. A time for exploring different worlds. But no amount of time in the darkness could’ve prepared me for when an alarm filled my brother’s hospital room at an early January hour. Somehow upright and surrounded by a jungle of medical equipment, I was able to spot the cause of all the chaos. JB, my brother, not long removed from brain surgery and still drunk on anesthesia, had pulled a tube from his arm. A tube that was directly connected to an artery.

Brotherly bond

My brother and I have always been close. I’ve always been a leaf in the wind. Never quite sure what to do with myself when I grow up. I’ve ended up being many versions of myself, ever-changing with my head stuck between the pages of a book, dreaming of abstract things … mostly free of adversity.

The funny thing about adversity, like when your brother comes home with an unknown illness, you end up becoming exactly who you are supposed to be.

Here I was standing over my brother, this leaking brother, the abstract painter of red. I found myself holding pressure on his arm as I mashed every possible button I could find. Someone would come, someone had to come.

Imagine my horror when a random voice from the intercom piped in and asked, "Can I help you?" with a nonchalance that might as well have been a foreign language. This voice from the ceiling did not understand the gravity of the situation. "CAN YOU?!" I barked back to what felt like no one.

And after what felt like an eternity—the professionals found their way and relieved me of my amateur duties. As I washed my hands, I couldn’t help but notice the symbolism of my brother’s blood swirling into the void. We were 3 months into this brain cancer thing. This moment is just one highlight along a surreal path since JB had been diagnosed with glioblastoma.

Tests, hospitalizations, and treatments

For the 2 months prior to this diagnosis, my brother was in excruciating pain, and we were clueless as to why. We tried to get help. During our first attempt, an emergency room visit, we were told the CT scan was negative and that ruled out anything serious. Whew, we went home thinking it was likely a pinched nerve or muscle spasm. So, we waited.

Unfortunately, that was just the beginning. Hospitalization, surgery, diagnosis, more surgery, rehab, radiation, chemo, more rehab, more radiation, more chemo, etc, etc, etc. It was dizzying. Despite having the knowledge that it was a brain tumor, we still felt lost.

I remember one of the surgeries left JB with short-term memory loss. Tentatively, I broke the news to him: JB, you have brain cancer. Even forming those words was a difficulty. He’d take it all in, with a level of dignity I’ll never understand, and then promptly forget it. Until the next day when we’d perform this routine again … and again.

Optune as a treatment option

After my brother underwent surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, his neuro-oncologist suggested another treatment—Optune®. Soon enough, a Device Support Specialist from nCompass, Novocure’s support program, was at our doorstep, Optune in tow. I was trained on how to prepare my brother’s head, how to change the arrays, and how to manage the alarms. I remember the poetic irony of having to shave his head for the first time. His hair had just grown back from the radiation!

nCompass was and is instrumental in guiding us along every path. Sometimes, there are not enough words to express the true gratitude you feel.

Adapting and growing

We readied our way with this treatment. There were some side effects though. JB experienced scalp irritation. With the doctor’s guidance, we’ve done well to keep it to a minimum. We still had to hide from the oppressive Floridian sun and all water-related shenanigans since Optune can’t get wet. But we rather enjoy being pale gremlins.

My brother had extensive physical limitations and detriments after his initial surgeries. It took a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication on his part to rebuild himself. I could not be prouder of him. He rose to the challenge and adapted, growing stronger day by day.

This is a roller coaster. I won’t pretend it’s been easy. As JB’s caregiver, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and it is so easy to lose perspective. I remember right before JB was hospitalized, I must have slept 13 hours in 13 days. I had to learn to take care of myself in order to take care of my brother.

Positive attitude and determination

Despite everything, JB has kept the most positive of attitudes and fought every step of the way. I can’t imagine a more inspiring person.

I never would have imagined I would be bragging about how far my brother has come since he was first diagnosed. But thanks to the teams of amazing individuals, the right resources, and my brother’s determination, I dare to whisper words that start with the letter H.

What is Optune® approved to treat?

Optune is a wearable, portable, FDA-approved device indicated to treat a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in adult patients 22 years of age or older.

Newly diagnosed GBM

If you have newly diagnosed GBM, Optune is used together with a chemotherapy called temozolomide (TMZ) if:

Recurrent GBM

If your tumor has come back, Optune can be used alone as an alternative to standard medical therapy if:

What is Optune Lua approved to treat?

Optune Lua is a wearable, portable, FDA-approved device indicated for the treatment of adult patients, with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic, malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) to be used together with standard chemotherapy (pemetrexed and platinum-based chemotherapy).

Who should not use Optune for GBM or Optune Lua for MPM?

Optune for GBM and Optune Lua for MPM are not for everyone. Talk to your doctor if you have:

Do not use Optune for GBM or Optune Lua for MPM if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. It is not known if Optune/Optune Lua is safe or effective during pregnancy.

What should I know before using Optune for GBM or Optune Lua for MPM?

Optune and Optune Lua should only be used after receiving training from qualified personnel, such as your doctor, a nurse, or other medical staff who have completed a training course given by Novocure®, the maker of Optune and Optune Lua.

What are the possible side effects of Optune for GBM and Optune Lua for MPM?

The most common side effects of Optune when used together with chemotherapy for GBM (temozolomide or TMZ) were low blood platelet count, nausea, constipation, vomiting, tiredness, seizure, and depression.

The most common side effects when using Optune alone for GBM were scalp irritation (redness and itchiness) and headache. Other side effects were malaise, muscle twitching, fall and skin ulcers.

The most common side effects of Optune Lua when used together with chemotherapy for MPM (pemetrexed and platinum-based chemotherapy) were low red blood cell count, constipation, nausea, tiredness, chest pain, fatigue, skin irritation from device use, itchy skin, and cough.

Other potential adverse effects associated with the use of Optune Lua include: treatment related skin irritation, allergic reaction to the plaster or to the gel, electrode overheating leading to pain and/or local skin burns, infections at sites of electrode contact with the skin, local warmth and tingling sensation beneath the electrodes, muscle twitching, medical device site reaction and skin breakdown/skin ulcer.

Talk to your doctor if you have any of these side effects or questions.

Caution: Federal law restricts Optune Lua to sale by or on the order of a physician. Humanitarian Device. Authorized by Federal Law for use in the treatment of adult patients with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic, malignant pleural mesothelioma concurrently with pemetrexed and platinum-based chemotherapy. The effectiveness of this device for this use has not been demonstrated.

Please click here to see the Optune Instructions for Use (IFU) for complete information regarding the device's indications, contraindications, warnings, and precautions.

Please click here to see the Optune Lua IFU for complete information regarding the device's indications, contraindications, warnings, and precautions.

On this site, patient and healthcare professional videos as well as all images labeled as Optune users, caregivers, or healthcare professionals depict actual patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. All other depictions of patients and caregivers are actor portrayals. Patient images reflect the health status of the patients at the time each photo was taken.

What is Optune approved to treat?

Optune is indicated to treat a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in adult patients 22 years of age or older.