Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Saturday

September 28, 2013

Cancer survivor gets married on the seventh anniversary of her diagnosis

LAKE ANN — Today about 60 people will gather behind Kendra Gilbert’s Lake Ann home to witness an event that seemed out of the realm of possibility seven years ago.

Gilbert, 29, will marry John Nuske, her best friend and longtime boyfriend.

The date, Sept. 28, will be an anniversary the pair won’t soon forget. On the same day seven years ago Kendra was diagnosed with a brain tumor that carried with it a grim prognosis.

The couple will stand in front of friends, family and doctors all of whom have been rooting for them for years. They are people who helped the couple’s relationship grow even while Gilbert fought the inoperable brain tumor. They are the people who helped Gilbert and her family stay positive even when she became violently ill because of chemo treatments.

And they are the same people who helped lead them to a clinical trial in Texas that seemed to be the last option to stop the tumor that was unaffected by previous treatments.

“That’s a great thing,” said Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, the doctor who developed the experimental treatment that killed the walnut-sized tumor that once threatened Gilbert’s life. “The doctors were telling her she probably doesn’t have more than a year to survive when she came to us.”

When Burzynski received an invitation to Gilbert’s wedding, he and his wife happily sent a confirmation that they would attend.

“This is what cancer treatment should be all about,” Burzynski said of visiting survivors like Kendra when they celebrate life’s big events. “That’s why we feel it is very important to be supportive of these people.”

Burzynski is the inventor of a technique of treating cancer that uses a type of gene therapy to target life-threatening tumors in patients who have been told they have no other options.

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