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Cancer patient gives doctor dose from the heart


By Louis Llovio

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Steven Engelman, left, of Reisterstown hugs Dr. David Sidransky, director of the Head and Neck Cancer Research group at Johns Hopkins University, after giving the physician a portrait.

By all accounts Steven Engelman of Reisterstown should be dead.

The 38- year-old father of three survived Hodgkin's disease when he was 20, a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery when he was 27 and a cancerous tumor on his spine six years ago - and he found out earlier this year that he's been suffering from undiagnosed lung cancer for the past 4 1/2 years.

Engelman credits his ability to survive these 18 years' worth of medical disasters to one man: Dr. David Sidransky.

Sidransky is professor of otolaryngology (disorders of the ear, nose and throat), oncology, pathology, urology and director of the Head and Neck Cancer Research group at Johns Hopkins University and Hospital.

Sidransky and Engelman first met when the doctor, then a fellow, treated the 20-year-old with Hodgkin's.

Since then, Engelman said, the doctor, despite his work as a researcher, has been there for him "every step of the way."

As a gesture of thanks for the years of advice, Engelman hired Owings Mills artist Jen Seidel-Walsh to paint a portrait of Sidransky.

Known for roaming the halls of Hopkins in a yarmulke and cowboy boots, Sidransky was voted as one of "America's Best" by Time Magazine in 2001.

Seidel-Walsh, whose family runs a Pikesville company creating makeup for people injured and disfigured in accidents, agreed to paint a portrait of the doctor using the photo from the Time article.

"I put my heart and soul into this," she said.

She spent about 60 hours working on the acrylic black-and-white portrait.

The painting was presented to Sidransky at an informal ceremony at Hopkins' hospital complex Oct. 3.

"I can't believe with everything else going on in your life you did this," said a visibly touched Sidransky.

Both Seidel-Walsh and Engelman hope that the portrait will hang in the doctor's Hopkins office for years to come.

"I know exactly where this is going to go," Sidransky said. "I know just the wall in my new office."

For Engelman, the money he paid Seidel-Walsh for the commission is just the beginning of what he wants to give back.

"I decided on the painting because it was more personal than giving money," he said. "I wanted to do something for David that came from the heart."

Sidransky said he owes Engleman as well.

"Steve, I owe you. I'll never forget how you helped me become the doctor I am."

Engelman, who took his last dose of chemotherapy Sept. 23, said that he intends to donate money earmarked for cancer research as well.

But now that the painting has been dedicated he has other things on his mind.

According to the American Lung Association, only 15 percent of those diagnosed with lung cancer survive five years.

Engelman is a few months shy of the five-year mark, and reaching it is his goal.

"I don't know if I can make that happen," he said. "Why it grew for four years and I'm still alive is mind boggling. But I can't think of dying. I have three kids; they're my passion. I don't have an option."

Engelman is separated from his wife, and his three sons live with him.

Sidransky has him taking the new cancer-fighting drug Evastin, and he goes to the gym three times a week to stay strong.

Even if he does fight off the cancer in his lungs, his greatest fear is that it will spread to his brain and liver.

"Once it gets there," he said. "There's not much of a shot."

That threat has him on antidepressants, but it also motivates him to continue the fight.

"I intend to fight, fight, fight," he said. "I'll do whatever I have to do. I'll never stop."

Sidransky, he knows, will fight along with him.

"I trust him with my life."

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Hello, Steve, and forgive me for not figuring out that you are the Steve who is the subject of the article! I think what you've done for your Doctor is fantastic. I think what he's done for you is pretty wonderful, too. :wink:

Steve, there are some things that can be done for liver mets. Radiofrequency Ablation is something that is at the top of my personal list if and when I develop Liver Mets. There is a new form of radiation treatment for tumors being done at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. I'll have to do some research tonight to find the specifics for you, but this particular machine can do very targeted treatment to the tumor (they refer to it as "painting" the tumor) and leaving other tissue untouched by the beam. I think they are using this on liver and brain tumors, amongst others. I think I posted the information on this treatment under New Treatments a while back.

I'll give you a better answer to this by tomorrow eveing. But Steve, if you're a surgical candidate to treat the mets to the pleura then I say go for it. Surgery really is the best option for ridding us of the beast. I've had several thoracotomies on the right lung ending with removal of the entire right lung and almost all the nodes on the right side a few years ago. Then a month ago I had a new cancer removed from the top of my left lung (different type of cancer from other Lung Cancers I've had.)I've had some problems both pre and post surgery, but I am so glad to be alive that I'm willing to put up with a great deal in order to keep opening my eyes each day.

I will keep you and your kids in my prayers. What a wonderful example you are to them! What an honor it is for someone like me to meet a Survivor like you!

PS I've been on Tarceva for 9 months. I've been off of it since the week before the surgery, but will restart it when I get the Crohn's under control again. Tarceva is keeping my first kind of Lung Cancer (BAC) in remission.

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I know alot about it. But I am fighting this thing very hard and thank god I have the best drs in the world helping me. I have heard about that and spoke to a Dr at Hopkins, I am going to see a surgeon again next week to see what can be done now. I had surgey once before in March but it was aborted because they found METS on the Plura. I just finished chemo and Avastin and now am trying to figure out what the next step is. Im trying very hard not to lose my left lung , but like you said if I have to I will.

Thanks so much for your kind words. I am greatful for people like you who give me so much help.


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Found it:


Joined: 04 May 2003

Posts: 3045

Location: California

Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2005 8:27 pm Post subject: TOMOTHERAPY, STATE-OF-THE-ART RADIATION TREATMENT

http://www.cityofhope.org/presspass/new ... sp?id=1117

Contact: Greg Hughes

Senior Media Relations Specialist




High Degree of Precision Spares Non-Cancerous Cells

DUARTE, Calif. — An important advancement in radiation treatment of cancer tumors, the extremely accurate helical TomoTherapy, is benefiting patients at City of Hope Cancer Center, the first research and treatment center in the Western U.S. to offer the new technology.

“Tomotherapy represents the next important advancement in radiation oncology, image-guided radiation therapy,â€

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Ate some bad shellfish last night, and I've been sick all night and day. Just didn't want you to think I forgot. Will have to wait on the research. Sorry...for both of us. :shock:

I may never be able to look at shrimp again. :(

PS Forgot to ask before, but what cell type of Lung Cancer do you have? My cancer was first seen in 1986, but I wasn't diagnosed until 1999. My first Lung Cancer was Adenocarcinoma with Bronchioloalveolar Features (aka BAC). The cell type is important information when we're searching for info on treatments/clinical trials/etc.

Will check back with you soon.

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