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Brain Tumor Surgery: Jeremiah's Story

Beating Brain Tumors

"I'm still amazed by how large the tumor was, and how fully I recovered, thanks to the great skill of Dr. Amini and the neuroscience team at Holy Cross Hospital."

-Jeremiah Willie

With a Doctorate of Science, Jeremiah Wille knows a lot about the human body and how it works. In fact, the biomedical engineer spends his days reviewing clinical trials and potential new medical devices, side-by-side with medical doctors and other scientists at the Food and Drug Administration.

So when his recent spate of headaches and the accompanying numbness and tingling on his left side steadily grew worse, Jeremiah knew it was time to find a doctor ofhis own.

But nature wouldn’t wait. “On February 20, I was walking down a hall at work and stumbled,”the 33-year-old says. “A couple of medical officers—physicians—saw me and were alarmed. They insisted I get an evaluation right away.”  

Fortunately for Jeremiah, he wentto the Emergency Center at nearby Holy Cross Hospital, which, as home to an established neuroscience program, assures round-the-clock coverage for urgent brain and spine problems. There, staff immediately summoned Amin Amini, MD, neurosurgeon, and former medical director of neurosurgery, Holy Cross Hospital.

A CT scan provided the first clue to Jeremiah’s problem.

“When I saw the images, I was stunned,” Jeremiah says. “There wasthis huge growth in my brain. My first thought was, ‘Oh, no—they’re going to have to remove that!’”

But Holy Cross Hospital has a team of experienced neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists and other specially trained staff uniquely equipped to deal with the most complex conditions.

Jeremiah was admitted on the spot to the Neuro Critical Care Unit (NCCU), which is staffed with specially trained nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who provide round-the-clock patient assessment and monitoring. Meanwhile, Dr. Amini and the neuroscience team pored over the results from Jeremiah’s CTs, MRIs and other specialized tests.

“While the mass was not cancerous, it was an incredibly rare tumor,called a central neurocytoma,” says Dr. Amini, who has seen perhaps five of the unusual growths in his career.“Over time, it would continue to grow, squeezing Jeremiah’s brain more and more, eventually causing coma and death.”

But removing it was tricky, due toits size—imagine an orange—and location deep within the center of the brain. Dr. Amini and his team would have to go through a lot of important structures to reach their target.

That’s where Holy Cross Hospital’steam of specialized neuroradiologists came in, helping to improve pre-surgical planning and—subsequently—outcomes through sophisticated imaging techniques.

“Through brain imaging technology, we carefully plotted out the bestpathway to avoid any damage to areas that controlled important functions,” says Anil Narang, DO, neuroradiologist, Holy Cross Hospital. “A mishap could have caused long-term speech problems, stroke, seizures or paralysis.”

During the six-hour operation, Dr.Amini used advanced microsurgical techniques to painstakingly pull outevery bit of the tumor through a small hole in Jeremiah’s brain, less than 2/3 inch wide. Jeremiah then spent the next few days in the NCCU, whose team was vigilant for any signs of the serious complications that could occur after such a delicate procedure.

Jeremiah came through with flyingcolors. Six days after his trip to the Emergency Center, he was home. Hereturned to work full-time on March11, to his bowling league three days later and completed a 10-mile hike four weeks after surgery.  Now he’splanning a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.

“I was very lucky to have found agreat hospital with an amazingly talented neurosurgeon. I can’t say enough about Holy Cross Hospital, its care and expertise.”

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