- By Dana Sparks
Sharing Mayo Clinic: Innovative treatment moves Conner beyond cancer
At 26, Conner O'Brien had just started a new job in Minneapolis working for an association that supports health care and health technology companies. He was a happy, healthy guy, with a future that looked bright.
Then Conner received the stunning news that he wasn't so healthy after all. He had a rare form of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma.
Conner's doctors in Minneapolis explained that the cancer, located in the muscle of his tongue, was curable. But treatment could involve a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. And it may require removing his tongue.
"My mind pretty much went blank," Conner says. "I thought of the odds and all the decisions I made that led to this point. I worked out almost every day, and I'm never sick. All I kept thinking was that no matter how I looked at things, nothing that was happening made sense."
Within a week of being diagnosed, Conner began the first of seven cycles of chemotherapy. After completing three of those cycles, scans showed the tumor had shrunk to half its original size, and it had not spread elsewhere in his body. The good news didn't last, however. By the end of the fifth cycle, Conner's oncologist told him that the chemotherapy no longer was shrinking the tumor.