Linda's lessons

There's a large brass bell that I keep on my desk. Every time I ring it, I remember my grandmother. I think of all the children she taught and the lessons they learned. And I'm reminded of the greatest lesson I've learned: how to live well with GBM.

Teaching is in my DNA. My grandmother taught in a one-room schoolhouse. It's her bell that graces my desk today. I suppose you could say I was destined to be a teacher. The greatest day of my life was the day I was hired to teach first grade.

After I met my husband, Gene, and we started our family, I continued to teach. Decades later, when we sold our farm in the Midwest and moved to Arizona near our daughters, I found a job as a substitute teacher at the perfect school. I still work there to this day.

An unexpected test

Well into our retirement, Gene and I remained active and enjoyed good health. We counted ourselves lucky. Then one night, Gene and I were at dinner with friends. When it came time to order, he couldn't speak. I knew he wanted a cheeseburger, so I ordered for him. He started talking again right after that, and we finished our dinner without any other problems.

The episode passed quickly, but after dinner, I called our daughter Angela who’s a doctor. She encouraged us to go in and get it checked out. So the next day, we went to the ER just in case.

The doctors performed an MRI in the ER. We sat and waited for the results and finally a neurologist came in and said they found a tumor. It was a shock, to say the least. They told us Gene needed surgery right away and transferred him by ambulance.

Hearing this news was really scary. I was so grateful to have both my daughters with me that day to keep me calm. We later learned Gene had a glioblastoma and that we needed to act on it right away.

Learning curve

Two days after his surgery, Gene came home from the hospital. We knew he would undergo radiation next. To help us get through the difficult times ahead, we set a goal: after Gene completed his radiation, the entire family would go on vacation to Hawaii.

Before our trip, we learned about Optune® from Gene's oncologist. She showed us a model and told us about how it worked. After learning all the facts, we felt Optune was a good choice for Gene.

When we returned from our family vacation, we met with our nCompass Device Support Specialist (DSS), who taught us about Optune and the placing of the arrays. She had such a gentle, kind manner and was very knowledgeable. She gave me confidence, and I took her lead.

Instruction by the book

The first time we used Optune, our DSS came to the oncologist’s office and showed us everything, including how to shave Gene’s head with the nCompass-provided shaver.

Our DSS explained all the steps involved in preparing for and applying the arrays. Later that week, she returned to our home to follow up. She gave me a personal array placement map that I use to align the arrays. To this day, I put the map in front of me as I place the arrays on Gene's head, and I can't go wrong.

Gene and I worked out a schedule for changing the arrays. We plan for it the night before. If he's getting a lot of alarms and we need to change the arrays right away, I get up a little earlier in the morning, and we change out the arrays before I go to school. It's not difficult.

Gene has experienced scalp irritation because of the heat, but since we live in Arizona we have to adjust to that by walking early in the morning and doing more indoor activities, like reading.

Of course, our life changed. But after talking with his doctors, Gene went back to work part-time. He prefers to work without using Optune, so we change his arrays around his work schedule. Even with these breaks, he still meets or exceeds using Optune for an average of 18 hours a day.

Learning along the way

It's been more than 2 years now, and so far, there's been no new tumor growth. Each time we hear that news, it's amazing and wonderful for us. Everyone has been very positive and helpful and always looking out for my dear, gentle husband. We are all a team, and we can learn from each other.

I have learned so much over the years since Gene's diagnosis. In the beginning, I worried about Gene and that I wouldn't be able to give him the support he needed. It took a while, but things have settled down, and I feel confident as his caregiver.

Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that there are going to be times when you’re frustrated and downright emotional, but it will get better. Life will calm down. We’ve gotten through these unexpected and uncertain times. This diagnosis is not easy, but there is hope.

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.