Technology helps teen beat cancer

November 5, 2009 7:17:37 PM PST
A young man from the East Bay may seem like just another of the Bay Area's rising young sports stars, but he's also a cancer survivor. He's beaten a deadly disease, with the help of some advanced techniques being used at Children's Hospital Oakland.

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It may be just a few feet from the dugout to the mound, but the struggle to get there took Hudson Davis months of hard work.

"I threw a complete game in July, and that's when I knew I had it back," said Davis.

Davis has come back from cancer. It started when doctors at Children's Hospital Oakland spotted a tumor on his brain. The diagnosis would normally call for treatment including targeted radiation. But in a short time, the disease would throw Davis a changeup.

"The tumor itself was in his brain, so that portion wasn't difficult to see. But the question then is, where is it besides in his brain," said Dr. Kenneth Martin from Children's Hospital Oakland.

Dr. Martin is a pediatric radiologist, who's refining techniques that produce higher resolution and more detailed images from traditional MRI scans. He says these sequences instruct the MRI to look at certain parts of the body in a certain way.

In Davis' case Dr. Martin zeroed in on an area of the spine, where tumors sometimes spread, but are difficult to detect. Small ones can be missed by a spinal tap.

"But we applied a special sequence we have added to some of the protocols that we are running. And that particular sequence was able to identify the spread of the disease to the spine region where none of the other sequences we able to show us that," said Dr. Martin.

The discovery meant doctors could treat both the tumor in Davis' brain and the tiny nodule discovered in his spine simultaneously, with both radiation and chemotherapy.

And while undergoing those treatments, Davis continued a therapy of his own, pitching for his youth league team and battling hitters at the same time he battled cancer.

"Even when he was very weak and sick, it lifted him up to go out on the baseball field," said Hudson's dad Greg Davis.

Now, working out with coaches at St. Mary's College in Moraga, Davis' fastball is up to 80 miles an hour and back at Children's Hospital, his doctors believe the field is wide open.

"Oh yeah, we think his outlook is excellent. We have cured him," said Dr. Joseph Torkildson from Children's Hospital Oakland.

"I want to play ball, do well in high school so I can play in college," said Davis.

Hudson continued to pitch through his chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Even with those limitations, he ended the season by making the league's all-star team.

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