Gene's story

I grew up in rural Wisconsin hearing the words “Comeboss. Comeboss.” That’s what we said when we wanted the cows to come to us. I helped my father bring the cows to the barn to milk them. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a dairy farmer and wanted to milk cows.

I was planning to go to college then return to the farm and become a fourth-generation dairy farmer. When my father became very sick with stomach cancer and died, I was just 16 years old. My life as a dairy farmer was started. At this young age, my priority was the farm, which I worked very hard at day in and out.

As time went on, I met a city girl—Linda. She eventually settled down with this country boy. We had two wonderful daughters, Angela and Julie. My priorities changed—family first, then farm. That’s how it stayed for many years.

A change in retirement plans

At 60, I sold the farm and moved to the Southwest and the sunshine. Linda and I were enjoying our semi-retirement. We had our daughters close by with their husbands. We were waiting to have grandchildren to play with. Life was good.

One evening, we were out with some friends. When it was my turn to order food, I could not speak. Absolutely nothing would come out of my mouth. My wife and friends covered up and told the waitress what they knew I wanted.

My voice did come back quickly, but we didn’t know what had happened to my voice. I thought it might have been a mini-stroke.

From MRI, to surgery, to diagnosis

The next morning, we went to the ER at Angela’s advice while she called my primary care doctor to tell him what was happening. The hospital did an MRI, and I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I didn’t know what to think. I always assume the worst. We told our daughters, and Angela suggested I have surgery to remove the tumor at another hospital where they had specialists.

I went home 2 days after the surgery, and a week later I was diagnosed with glioblastoma (GBM). Neither Linda nor I had ever heard of GBM, but we started doing research.

The doctors at the hospital recommended that I go through radiation and chemotherapy. The entire family had a goal of going to Hawaii together after the radiation. With the help of family and friends, I was able to complete radiation. And just like we planned, we went to Hawaii.

Getting started on Optune®

During my treatments, the doctor and Angela told us about Optune for treating my GBM. We researched Optune and liked what we read. I talked to my oncologist about Optune. He explained the risks and benefits; then he showed me a model of it he had in his office.

“With the help of my DSS, I’ve found what works for me.”

I was able to start using Optune shortly after. An nCompass Device Support Specialist (DSS) came to the doctor’s office to teach us about applying the arrays, setting up the device, and managing my treatment. There was a long learning curve for me, but with the help of my DSS, I’ve found what works for me.

Optune and daily living

I haven't really needed to adjust my lifestyle all that much to accommodate using Optune. I don't really do any sports or activities outside, so I haven't had to worry about it overheating because of the sun. I was always more of a reader, and Optune never gets in the way of that.

Whenever there is something that I need to do outside, I simply schedule it for the morning or the evening when it isn't so hot out. Also, I plan my Optune usage around the times I work, since I don,t like to use Optune while I work. Other than that, I use it the rest of the day. That’s how I'm able to keep my usage time at or above 75%.

Traveling with Optune

One thing that Linda and I didn’t want to give up was traveling. With Optune, we’ve had to plan a little different.

“I can set up everything in our stateroom and go out and
enjoy myself through the whole week.”

For instance, I prefer to stay in one place so that I can set up the chargers and equipment I need rather than setting it up each day. That’s why we prefer cruises. I can set up everything in our stateroom and go out and enjoy myself through the whole week.

Gene, an Optune® user and Patient Ambassador

Also, I’ve developed a system for where all the equipment goes so that I can pack it up and find everything more easily. And I keep the paperwork handy for when we go through security, just in case they want to know what Optune is.

The drive to keep going

I’m not sure how I would have been able to make it without the love and support I get from my family. I’m glad that I’ve been able to keep on going despite having GBM. It’s important to me for people to know how serious this disease is, so that’s why I’m doing this–telling my story.

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.