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Teen has cancerous brain tumor removed


July 22, 2009
The son of a Crawford County Dispatcher and a Harrison County Sheriff's Department officer is recovering at home after going through a five-hour surgery to remove a large, cancerous tumor from his brain.

Brent Kurz, 19, was a part-time employee at the Harrison County Justice Center and had just been promoted to full-time status when, after suffering numerous excruciating headaches, he asked to have his father, Officer Michael Kurz, take him to Harrison County Hospital on June 30.

"Dr. James Spiller did a wonderful job. I told the doctor that I was concerned because Brent is not the kind of guy to complain much. Dr. Spiller said they would do a full work-up on him, and 2-1/2 hours later we knew what we had. They ran the full gamut of tests on him and just did an outstanding job," Michael Kurz said.

The next day, the Kurzes went to Dr. Brandon Connerly of New Salisbury Family Medicine, who set up a visit with a neurologist in Louisville. The surgery was Saturday, July 11. Brent's mother is dispatcher Becky Kurz.

Doctors removed 95 percent of the tumor, which was 5.76 centimeters in size. For comparison, a standard AA battery is about five centimeters tall.

Kurz was treated for Glioblastoma multiforme, which is the most common and most aggressive type of brain tumor in humans. According to medical studies, GBM accounts for more than half of all primary brain tumor cases.

"(Brent) is doing fantastic," his father said. "A couple of days ago, I was really concerned and really worried, but he's beat all timelines. The doctors say most patients go home after three days, and he's going home after two. And I'm convinced all the prayers from everyone is the reason why.

"Thank you doesn't even begin to express what we feel towards everyone's thoughts and prayers," Michael Kurz said. "It's been such a blessing from everyone."

While a majority of the tumor was removed, Brent Kurz still faces a long road ahead. Next week, the family will meet with an oncologist to set up a schedule of chemo and radiation treatments. Michael Kurz said his son will be part of a clinical study at Duke University.

"He's looking at least a year of treatment with chemo, and the doctors are confident he can lead a somewhat normal life," he said. "There's no cure for his type of cancer, so the goal is to put the cancer into remission."

In the meantime, several benefits have been planned to help financially support Brent Kurz, who does not have insurance, in what will be an ongoing medical expense.

A fund under Michael Kurz's name, for the benefit of Brent Kurz, has been set up at First Harrison Bank.

A benefit auction will take place Friday at 7 p.m. at Shaffer's, 3560 Old S.R. 135, Corydon.

Raffle tickets for a wide assortment of items will be sold at the Harrison County Fair and names will be drawn Aug. 1. You do not need to be present to win. Car detailing, handmade quilts, embroidered pillowcases, stays at local hotels, a piece of Zimmerman Art Glass, toys, car-cleaning products, a car radio, fireworks, tax services, golf packages, photography sitting fees and gift certificates for food, tanning and sporting goods are just a few of the items that can be won. Donations are still being accepted. For more information, contact Sara Smith at 267-4404 between 4 and 8 p.m.

A barbecue chicken dinner will be held Friday, Aug. 14, from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Moose Lodge in Corydon. The Harrison County Maintenance Department and the janitorial staff at the Harrison County Court House will sell tickets for the dinner. For more information, call Scooter Elliott at 267-0559.

There will be a golf scramble at New Salisbury Golf Course also on Aug. 14, at noon.

The cost is $300 per four-person team. The scramble is limited to the first 14 teams, which must be registered in advance. Hole sponsor signs can be purchased for $100 each. For more information, contact Gary Gilley at 596-0412.

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