by | Oct 1, 2013 | CyberKnife Treatment, Lung Cancer

“Cancer tried to interrupt my life, but I didn’t let it. I kept a positive attitude. I went to school every day. I graduated and got into the University of Virginia on a full scholarship.”

José Barcardi was filled with excitement anticipating his future and dream of becoming an aerospace engineer.

While finishing his junior year in high school, applying to universities and for college scholarships, he suddenly started feeling pain in his right leg that wouldn’t go away.

José says, “It’s a scary feeling when you have random pain in your body and don’t know what it is. When you’re 17, the last thing you think of is cancer.”

At first, doctors thought it was scoliosis or growing pains. They prescribed anti-pain medication but the pain persisted. José’s parents insisted the doctors do more tests. An MRI revealed stunning, unexpected news. Bone cancer, resulting in a tumor on his pelvis, known as osteosarcoma.

José says, “It was a shock. I thought wow cancer. This is terrible. I could die. This is horrendous.”

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of cancer in children. It usually develops in teenagers around age 15 when they’re growing rapidly. Boys and girls are just as likely to get it. While the cause is unknown, in some cases osteosarcoma runs in families.

The good news – it’s often treatable.

“My doctor said I have an 80 percent chance to live, so I thought okay, let’s get going,” said José.

Treatment usually involves chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, radiation to kill it, and/or surgery to remove it.

In José’s case, surgery wasn’t an option. Unfortunately, the tumor was on both sides of his pelvis, which would require removing his entire pelvis and muscle around it. The treatment regimen they chose was chemo to shrink the tumor and radiation to kill it.

The treatment worked, but unfortunately tumor cells spread to one lung.

This time doctors recommended surgery to remove the lung.

Not willing to accept the news and feeling José was too young to have a lung removed, his parents began researching other treatment options on the internet.

José’s father, Eriel Cabrera, says, “We wanted to see what other treatment options might be available to us when we came across CyberKnife technology at the CyberKnife Center of Miami, so we asked José’s oncologist if it could benefit him.”

The CyberKnife is robotic radiation technology used to destroy tumors. It is a non-invasive treatment that delivers high doses of radiation with pinpoint accuracy directly to the tumor.

José’s doctor, a radiation oncologist told him,“CyberKnife is extremely effective for lung tumors. It’s well tolerated. We do what surgeons do without a knife.”

The CyberKnife robot can follow tumor motion during normal breathing cycles, which makes it perfect for lung tumors.

Dr. James Schwade, CyberKnife Miami’s Medical Director says, “CyberKnife’s missile guided technology is what makes it so great for treating lung tumors. We couldn’t treat them before CyberKnife. It has revolutionized cancer treatment in so many ways. The tumors are treated, they dissolve while patients get on with life without effecting the quality of their lives.” 

José says, “After CyberKnife treatments I didn’t feel any side effects. I drove myself home, played video games, and took walks with mom.”

If a tumor comes back they zap it again. Patients can be treated over and over again.”

José’s dad has nothing but praise for the CyberKnife Center of Miami, “The doctors are very good at explaining everything about the procedure and what to expect. The Center is a very friendly, comfortable environment and they are so knowledgeable. If you have cancer, look for this technology. It’s available and can change your life.”

Today José feels like a winner in all aspects of life.

“Cancer tried to interrupt my life, but I didn’t let it. I kept a positive attitude. I went to school every day. I graduated and got into the University of Virginia on a full scholarship.”

PET scans show José’s lung and bone tumors are gone. “At first I thought my dreams may not come true but then I thought, no, I will realize my dreams. I will!” José’s dad says, “He’s a brave, determined young man. We’re so proud of him and the way he handled this. He is going to fulfill his dreams.”