Episode 23: Ruth Kavanagh (Brain Cancer at 34)

“Can anyone be an advocate? YES. Tell YOUR story. Your story is POWER.” -Ruth Kavanagh

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Ruth Kavanagh is a 39 year old female who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer (Grade III anaplastic ependymoma) at the age of 34. She was having vague symptoms and was being planned for a brain MRI to rule out early onset multiple sclerosis. However, she then suffered a seizure while getting a manicure, woke up in an emergency room on April 6, 2014 and was told she had a brain lesion that had to be removed.

Her life changed forever on that day.

Ruth is now a two time brain cancer survivor/thriver! She has had conquered brain cancer twice, had five brain cancer surgeries, multiple courses of radiation, and innumerable hospitalizations but she is now cancer-free.

Since her diagnosis, she has focused on raising awareness and fundraising and advocating on behalf of the brain cancer community.  She is involved in several charities and works tirelessly as much as she can to defeat this disease. Despite all of this, Ruth is one of the most optimistic people I have had the privilege of speaking with.

On today’s episode, she shares her story as well as her thoughts on the language of cancer, becoming a cancer advocate, connecting with others when newly diagnosed, the importance of caring for the caregiver, and at the very end of the episode, her thoughts on what hope really is. Her words are beautiful and to say she is inspiring does not even begin to do it justice. Go listen. You will not be disappointed.

1(Phototograph and permission to post provided by Ruth Kavanagh)

What We Discussed on Todays’ Episode/Helpful Links:

Glioblastoma Awareness Day


Imerman Angels

First Descents

National Brain Tumor Society

Cycle For Survival

American Brain Tumor Association

We Can Kick It

Brain Tumor Facts (Source: National Brain Tumor Society):

  • An estimated 700,000 Americans are living with a brain tumor
  • Nearly 87,000 people will receive a primary brain tumor diagnosis in 2019
  • The average survival rate for all malignant brain tumor patients is only 35%
  • An estimated 16,830 people will die from malignant brain tumors (brain cancer) in 2019
  • Despite the amount of brain tumors, and their devastating prognosis, there have only been four FDA approved drugs – and one device – to treat brain tumors in the past 30 years. Out of 78 investigational brain tumor drugs that entered the clinical trial evaluation process, 75 FAILED.
  • The amount of cancer cases each year that metastasize to the brain ranges anywhere from 56,000 to 500,000 cases
  • We need MORE. More research. More drugs. More treatments. More survival.

Follow Dr. Teplinsky: Twitter |  Instagram | Facebook

Follow Ruth: Instagram

Related Episodes:

Episode 20: Brianna Wagner (Low Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer at 37)

Episode 19: Lauren Chiarello (Hodgkin Lymphoma at 23)

Episode 3: Ingrid Kolstoe (Low Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer at 41)

Support Interlude: Women’s Cancer Stories with Dr. Teplinsky. If you’re enjoying the show, please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts (iTunes). If you liked this episode, please share with your friends and family!

If you have any feedback or are interested in being a guest on the show, please e-mail me at interludecancerstories@gmail.com


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