Welimma's story

    Pituitary tumor

 

The trouble began with constant headaches that could not be tamed by over-the-counter pain medication. The pain was especially severe when Welimma flashed her trademark smile – a wide, engaging smile that radiated off her prominent cheekbones and lit up her brown eyes. “I thought the headache was a result of my smiles, and as a result I decided to limit how much I both smiled and laughed with people,” recalled Welimma, a 44-year-old healthcare employee in Norristown, Pa.

Reading became increasingly difficult. “I could hardly read anything, especially my phone's Caller ID,” she said. “The pain did not really impact my ability to work or enjoy life, but it gave me cause for concern, especially when I realized it was affecting my ability to see well.”

Welimma told her primary care physician about the pain and her deteriorating vision. Rightly concerned, the physician ordered an MRI to confirm, or rule out, the presence of a tumor or other irregularity.

The MRI revealed a pituitary tumor, 18 millimeters in diameter, located in the pituitary gland, a small, bean-shaped organ located at the base of the brain, behind the bridge of the nose. The pituitary gland secretes hormones that control or regulate sexual development, bone and muscle growth, and the ability to control stress and fight disease.

“The MRI brought fear and grief to me,” Welimma said. “I then asked my doctor to discuss my condition with my sister, Cora, and brother, Francis, who are both physicians.”

But there was good news for Welimma: Pituitary tumors, which account for 15 percent of all brain tumors, tend to be benign and are highly curable.

Welimma’s primary care physician prescribed medication he believed would shrink the brain tumor. But three months later, a second MRI revealed that the medication had done nothing to reduce the tumor’s size. The physician referred Welimma to an endocrinologist, a physician who specializes in the treatment of hormonal disorders, who then told her she needed to see a neurosurgeon.

“At this point my brother interviewed some of his colleagues,” Welimma said. “Each of the five physicians he spoke with recommended Dr. John Tew of the Mayfield Clinic in Cincinnati.”

At first Welimma was reluctant to travel to Ohio for her surgery. “But when I studied Dr. Tew’s credentials, I knew he was the right person to carry out the surgery,” she said. “He had graduated from medical school the year I was born. I quickly concluded that he must know what he was doing.”

Preparations were made, and Welimma arrived at Cincinnati’s University Hospital in the company of her mother and brother. Welimma was so taken with the attention and care she received that she remembered the first names of all the nurses and other associates who helped her – Michelle, April, Amanda, Tara, Jennifer, and Nancy.

“When Dr. Tew arrived, I was thrilled to see the same person I saw in the credential profile that was sent to me,” Welimma said. “He appeared unassuming and, most of all, confident in his skill. His posture showed he knew what he was talking about.  My brother asked him a series of questions, and his response gave me high hope.  I stretched out my right hand and said, Dr. Tew, I will see you tomorrow morning at 7:15 a.m. My brother asked him if he believes in the power of prayer and he said yes. We had a short prayer session and then left.”

The following day, Welimma underwent surgery. Dr. Tew approached the tumor through Welimma’s nose, making no incision. While looking through a microscope, he manipulated small instruments through an endoscope and removed the tumor. Then, while Welimma was still asleep in the operating room, intraoperative MRI equipment was used to acquire a brain scan and confirm that the tumor had been entirely removed. The operation took less than two hours.

Welimma said her recovery was so fast that, “Were it not for the fact that my nose was sore and I felt some pain at the roof of my mouth, I would have doubted that the surgery had actually taken place. But Dr. Tew showed me the MRI that had been taken while I was asleep, so I knew it was true. I got the relief I had long hoped for. My brother informed me that after my surgery, Dr. Tew held hands with him and prayed, thanking God for the operation’s success.”

Welimma is once again living without pain and reading with ease. Best of all, her countenance is all smiles and radiance.

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Hope Story Disclaimer -"Welimma's Story" is about one patient's health-care experience. Please bear in mind that because every patient is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Results are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.

 

“When Dr. Tew arrived, I was thrilled to see the same person I saw in the credential profile that was sent to me,” Welimma said. “He appeared unassuming and, most of all, confident in his skill. His posture showed he knew what he was talking about.  My brother asked him a series of questions, and his response gave me high hope.  I stretched out my right hand and said, Dr. Tew, I will see you tomorrow morning at 7:15 a.m. My brother asked him if he believes in the power of prayer and he said yes. We had a short prayer session and then left.”