Cordotomy offers cancer pain relief in time for Boot Walk

On Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, Kimberley Berry arrived at MD Anderson in her cowboy boots and Team Berry T-shirt, along with a dozen of her family and friends. Together, they raised $6,000 and were all set to support Kim in the inaugural Boot Walk, a fundraising walk to support MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer. The only problem was that Kim’s upper thigh started to hurt. It became so painful that she asked for a wheelchair, but the staff inside MD Anderson’s Emergency Center urged her to check in instead. As Kim’s family and friends walked in her honor, she was admitted to the hospital. Debilitating cancer pain Kim survived a throat cancer diagnosis in 2014, then was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in 2016. Her previous cancer treatments left her ineligible for additional chemotherapy or radiation therapy, but she did qualify for an immunotherapy clinical trial involving the drug pembrolizumab. In December 2016, Kim started the clinical trial under the care of Shubham Pant, M.D. While the drug began to kill and contain the cancer, it didn’t help the intense pain near her groin, where the tumor had grown. Over the next several months, the pain that started on the day of the Boot Walk became so great that Kim could barely walk. She was prescribed pain medicines and went to physical therapy twice a week at MD Anderson in Sugar Land, yet the pain persisted. “On morphine, my only options were to be in pain or to sleep all the time,” Kim says. “On dilaudid, my pain was never below a six. I was miserable.” She had...