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Groundbreaking brain cancer treatment gives Northeast Ohio woman hope for the future

Fran Noonan participated in a clinical trial at University Hospitals for glioblastoma.

CLEVELAND — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video in the player above is from a previous story.

Fran Noonan was a retired chef living in Colorado when, two years ago, her world came crashing down.

"I lost feeling in my two fingers on my left hand," Noonan said. "My daughter Lauren said, we're going to the ER and we'll just get it figured out. So we went there and they took a scan of my brain and there it was."

Noonan received an unexpected and devastating diagnosis of glioblastoma-- or brain cancer. 

After she went through treatment for her first tumor, Noonan learned the cancer was back -- and the prognosis was grim.

"The doctors here in Colorado would tell me that I had months, you know, to live," Noonan said.

But the Noonen family wasn't going to give up. They searched high and low for treatment options. And that's when they stumbled upon a novel clinical trial that combines immunotherapy and minimally invasive brain surgery at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center.

Led by Dr. Andrew Sloan, this option gave Noonan years to live, instead of the months that other doctors had told her she had. And within six months of starting the trial, Noonan received welcome news.

"I had the surgery and the immunotherapy and then in January, my scans were clear," she said. So it worked very quickly and it continues to work. Every scan since, which is every two months, are clear."

Noonan's kids learned of the program from a Facebook group. But coming to Cleveland meant coming home for Noonan. She was born at University Hospital and grew up in Mayfield Village.

"The treatment I received, the family that we've created there and the expertise, I mean, Cleveland is so lucky to have this cancer center because it's cutting edge," Noonan said.

She says it's her family that's kept her focused on the future.

"I still get emotional about it," Noonan said. "I just thank God I'm here and I found Seidman, Dr. Sloan...Just to have time with my grandkids and my kids. And it's just an awesome thing."

"I'm just thankful and I feel blessed because she, my mom, fights so hard and gives it everything she's got," Noonan's daughter Lauren said. "She's definitely supposed to be here for a reason."

"It makes my heart melt to know that I have the support I have in my kids," Noonan said.

WKYC is proud to support University Hospitals' Bite Back Against Cancer, a program that not only helps support Seidman Cancer Center, but also local restaurants in the Cleveland area. Contributors can choose an amount -- $500, $250 or $100 -- and half that amount will go directly to UH Seidman. The other half gets put on a gift card which can be used at participating five-star restaurants, including Blue Point Grille, Delmonico's Steakhouse, Summer House, and many more. For full details on the program and the restaurants included, click HERE.

WKYC donated $500 to UH Seidman, which meant Noonan got a $250 gift card to a restaurant of her choice. A chance for her to celebrate her journey, with her loved ones by her side.

"I love being able to be alive and live to tell you the story and give hope to other people that have this terrible disease that there is hope," Noonan said. "There are people out there that know what they're doing, and I'm so grateful we found them."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video in the player below is from a previous story.