Cancer genomic testing – Jamal Tamer’s story

“Everyone has a dream, mine is to have a restaurant because I love cooking,” says Jamal Tamer, 27-year-old from a small town in South Lebanon. “It’s the most important thing in my life,” he continues.

Unfortunately, Jamal had to put his dream on hold in 2013 after recurring bouts of severe headaches. “When I found out that I had a tumor, I had to leave my job so I could be followed up regularly with by my doctor. I had to take care of myself.”

After the first major surgery to remove the tumour, his cancer stayed at bay for five years. Then, his tumour came back – with a headache, dizziness and nausea. This time Jamal went to see Dr Hazem Assi, an oncologist from the Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute at the American University of Beirut Medical Center, Lebanon.

Dr Assi says: “Jamal was referred to us almost two years ago in April 2017. At the time, Jamal was suffering from a rare type of brain tumour. We were monitoring Jamal for a couple of months and we saw rapid growth of the tumour.”

“So, we did the test and it was positive for a gene defect [mutation] which is very rare in this type of tumour – very, very rare. Usually we don't think about it in our routine practice.”

Jamal started a treatment and to Dr Assi’s and his surprise, after a few months, the tumour started to shrink and his symptoms improved. After almost a year, the tumour had significantly decreased in size, meaning that surgery was an option for him again, as well as radiation therapy.

Now, Jamal is able to start thinking about pursuing his dream again. And he’s thinking even bigger than his own dreams. “I want personally to thank those devoted to the evolution of science, which helped in creating such tests and medicines. We are in 2019 now, we have to find a way to end all tumours in the world.”

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