Mighty Blog

Gavin beats his brain tumor, Joe Bully

Gavin Pierson
Gavin Pierson

Fox News Health published a story [READ] about 10-year-old Gavin Pierson’s journey overcoming a brain tumor with the help of Dr. Joseph Petronio, director of pediatric neurosurgery and co-director of the neuroscience program at Children’s Minnesota, and his team.

In April 2012, physicians at Children’s Minnesota found a golf-ball-sized tumor known as a teratoma growing in Gavin’s brain. Then only 6 years old, Gavin was ready to fight his tumor, which he nicknamed “Joe Bully.” He underwent chemotherapy, several brain surgeries and the use of an advanced drug, but nothing was completely successful in eliminating the tumor.

Dr. Petronio suggested a new option – laser ablation therapy, a minimally invasive surgery that destroys harmful brain tissue with a laser fiber through a 1-millimeter hole. Beginning in October 2013, Gavin underwent six rounds of ablation every six months. Little by little, the laser began to shrink the tumor.

On June 2, 2016, Gavin underwent his last ablation surgery and beat Joe Bully. For the first time in four years, he is in remission. Today, Gavin can participate in normal activities, like reading, running, riding his bike and doing karate – his favorite sport.

Dr. Petronio is optimistic about the future of laser therapy and is studying how lasers can help treat more common pediatric brain tumors. The Children’s Minnesota neurosurgery team is in constant pursuit of new technology and techniques like laser ablation that can improve outcomes for the patients we serve.

Madeline Riggs