December 1, 2000
a new treatment that's buying precious time for cancer
patients. A vaccine/ chemotherapy combo and Phil Shuman
tells us it's the brainchild of an L.A. surgeon in today's
"To go inside the human brain and see the structure
of the human brain that is as close as I could ever
come to looking at God's art."
"God's Art," Dr.
Keith Black's term for the mysterious and beautiful
human brain. But just as he marvels at its wonder, he
must constantly plan ways to attack it. Dr. Black is
a top brain surgeon who goes where other doctors will
He says, "I could not think of a diagnosis that is more
devastating than the diagnosis of a brain tumor."
It devastated Eric Shaver. In September, his doctors
told this fifty-three-year-old he had an inoperable
brain tumor and only months to live. He came to Dr.
Black who gave him hope and so far his future to look
forward to because Dr. Black removed 100 percent of
Eric says, "Let's put it this way, I feel Dr. Black
has given me the best shot on a human level to survive
a very very difficult prognosis."
Patients from all over the world, many who've been told
there is no hope, come to see Dr. Black here at Cedars
Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California. He says,
"With each patient you see you give a little bit of
your soul. It's the power of touch, the power of healing
that goes beyond just doing the surgery and giving the
Phil Shuman: "What is it like standing in the operating
room with someone's brain exposed in front of you… in
a life or death situation."
Dr. Black: "You get into an entirely different zone.
There's something extra that allows one to find a safe
corridor, to sneak into the human brain in a way that
the brain never realized you have been there."
But there's always a risk that the cancerous cells will
return. So that's why Dr. Black spends time in the research
lab as well as the operating room, working on what could
be a groundbreaking cancer vaccine using cells taken
from the patients own tumor to create a custom made
vaccine that helps the body destroy the cancer.
He says, "If we give radiation therapy, it's going to
come back, if we give chemo it is going to come back.
The most powerful defense we have against cancer is
the bodies own immune system."
So far the experimental treatment is working for forty
four year old John Rolland. He's been cancer free for
more than two and a half years. Dr. Black removed his
brain tumor, treated him with chemo and then gave him
the new vaccine.
Dr. Black is a driven man, driven to help others. He
performs over 250 brain surgeries a year, most neurosurgeons
do about 15. But he believes his patients are the heros,
not him. He says, "You realize how precious and what
a gift life is and if you want to realize how to learn,
and learn how to live life to its fullest, talk to one
of these patients."
There's no set timetable on when doctor black's vaccine
study will end. By the way, if he looks familiar, maybe
it's because you saw him on the cover of a special "Time"
magazine back in 1997. The edition was devoted to the
heroes of medicine.
You can also contact Dr. Black at (310) 423-7900.