Optune® and Relationships

Setting Boundaries

I am my wife’s main caregiver. Shortly after our journey started, Kate and I realized that the role of caregiver and patient could get in the way of our marital relationship. We decided that, for us, these needed to be kept separate as much as possible.

We have been married for over 39 years. We started out as friends first and have always maintained open communication. At the beginning of the GBM journey, we had some very serious discussions about the road ahead for our lives. I realized that I could very well do everything for her associated with Optune—but I also realized that she needed to do as much as possible for herself to maintain her feelings of self-worth, and to decrease the dependency on me as much as possible. If she felt too dependent on me, then it would most definitely harm our relationship.

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Enjoying Life Together

Kate and I continue to do as many things together as possible. The trick to keeping the spark alive for us is doing things together that do not include the caregiver and patient roles. We are season ticket holders for the Seattle Sounders soccer team and continue to attend matches.

With permission from Kate’s healthcare team, we also participate in a daily TV fitness program together and then a daily game of cribbage which, by the way, in the running tally for the year, I am way behind.

We have always had dinners out together at least weekly. It takes off the burden of cooking and gives us something to look forward to together. During the pandemic, this shifted to take-out meals, but now that we’re both fully vaccinated, we’ve been going back to our favorite restaurants.

Above all, Kate and I love to travel and continue to do that as much as possible. We had numerous trips planned around the world, but since Kate’s GBM diagnosis, we have limited that travel to North America, including Canada and Hawaii. This has included road trips and cross-country flights. Many of these flights have been from Washington state to Washington D.C. to see our grandson, son, and daughter-in-law. We have learned to allow extra time when flying, including time to educate TSA agents on Optune. For road trips, we plan on having all batteries charged and ready for the day.

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Taking Breaks

During some of Kate’s breaks from treatment, on array change days, we set aside time for intimacy. This allows us time to focus on other things besides Kate’s condition and Optune. Her other breaks from treatment come during our annual trip to Hawaii (Kauai). When we’re there, we change the arrays every two days so she can get a couple of hours in the pool before putting new arrays on.

Taking time for each other during this journey has been extremely important in keeping our relationship strong. We love spending time together, and there isn’t another person I’d want along for the ride. 

Topics: Daily Life with Optune, For Caregivers
By Pat, Optune caregiver

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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.