Avery Richardson’s story begins in 2009, when doctors told him his colorectal cancer had spread to his liver and gave him months to live. Out of treatment options, Richardson did what anyone in his situation would do: He began to get his affairs in order.
But nearly two years later, Richardson has a lot to look forward to – including his recent marriage to Regina Hendon – thanks to an innovative procedure recommended by Dr. Thomas Aquisto, interventional radiologist with Ingalls Health System.
“My cancer specialist Dr. Vasia Ahmed heard Dr. Aquisto was doing a new liver tumor treatment at Ingalls and referred me,” he explained.
With a reason to hope, Richardson made an appointment with Dr. Aquisto, who suggested the south side native might be a candidate for a relatively new treatment called selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT) that targets liver tumors directly.
Ingalls is one of the few cancer programs in Illinois to offer this non-surgical outpatient therapy that uses radioactive Yttrium-90 microspheres to deliver radiation directly to the site of liver tumors.
SIRT spares healthy tissue while delivering up to 40 times more radiation to liver tumors than would be possible using conventional radiation. The technique uses the patient’s blood supply to send the tiny spheres, smaller in diameter than a human hair, into the microscopic vessels that feed a cancerous tumor. The spheres eventually become lodged at the tumor sites where they deliver a high dose of radiation, shrinking the tumors and extending the life expectancy of patients with malignant liver tumors.
“Of the nearly 150,000 Americans diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year, at least 60 percent will see their cancer spread to the liver, and most liver tumors cannot be surgically removed,” Dr. Aquisto explains. “Microspheres therapy has emerged as a novel treatment option when most other treatment options have failed.”
For Richardson, it was the beacon of hope he had been looking for. After two treatments at Ingalls in 2010, his tumors have shrunk and are now under control. When Richardson and Hendon married April 16, Dr. Aquisto and his staff were there to help them celebrate this major life moment.
“I believe we were led to Dr. Aquisto for a reason,” Richardson said. “I’m a man of faith, and when Regina and I met with Dr. Aquisto, he told us would do the best he can and leave the rest up to God. He gave us confidence. I’m more than hopeful about the future.”
Richardson, who says he’s feeling “healthy as a horse,” will share his story at an upcoming Liver Tumor Health Seminar Friday, April 29, from noon to 2 p.m. at Ingalls. Also speaking are Mark Kozloff, M.D., medical director of Ingalls Cancer Care and Cancer Research, who will discuss “Liver Tumors: New Treatments, New Hopes,” and Dr. Aquisto, who will discuss “Minimally Invasive Treatment of Cancers of the Liver.”
“I was in dire straits, and it worked for me,” Richardson added. “It’s just amazing.”