Atypical Meningioma - Brain tumor
The change in Sylvia's life was so sudden, so seismic, that she simply couldn't believe it. Not when she woke up in the ambulance, not when she was admitted to the hospital, not when she was told about the seizure, and certainly not when Dr. Vince DiNapoli of Mayfield Brain & Spine explained the need for brain tumor surgery.
"I kept thinking, 'I was fine yesterday. I don't know if I believe you.'" Sylvia recalls. "I'd never had a seizure in my life."
Only when Sylvia looked into her husband's eyes, questioningly, and heard his reply – "Yes, you need this" – did it finally sink in. Sylvia, in her mid-50s, had a brain tumor, and it had to be taken out.
"You hear about things like this happening all the time," she says, reflecting. "But when it happens to you, the shock and confusion are unbelievable."
Sylvia was working as a greens keeper at a golf course and helping care for two of her grandchildren when the benign, slow-growing tumor breached a threshold. She had gone to work at the golf course that day and had worked out at the gym afterward. When she went to bed that night, a Saturday, everything was in order. There was no intimation that anything was amiss.
But the next morning, Sylvia suffered a dramatic, generalized seizure. Her husband, Bob, called 9-1-1, and when Sylvia finally woke up, she was in an ambulance on her way to Mercy Health – Anderson Hospital.
After tests revealed a mass inside her right parietal lobe, Sylvia was transferred to The Jewish Hospital Mercy Health. On Monday Sylvia met Dr. DiNapoli, a neurosurgeon and brain tumor specialist. She did her best to talk him out of performing brain surgery – surely there was another option available? -- but Dr. DiNapoli kindly explained that no, there was not.
One of Sylvia's major concerns about surgery involved her religious objection to receiving a blood transfusion. Dr. DiNapoli assured her that her surgery could be accomplished without a transfusion. "That comforted me," Sylvia said. "Things like that really mattered, and you want your religious beliefs to be honored."
Dr. DiNapoli recalls that Sylvia's tumor had invaded a larger section of the covering of the brain, called the dura, than the MRI had suggested. "This created the need for a more extensive resection of the membrane in order to completely remove the tumor and its attachments," he says. "Given the atypical features of her tumor on intra-operative pathology, this was important to allow for the lowest possible chance of recurrence."
"I really credit Dr. DiNapoli," Sylvia says. "I consider him a genius, I truly do."
When Sylvia awoke after surgery, she was elated. She felt good and experienced very little pain. Two days later, she went home to continue her recovery. Her greatest challenge in the weeks ahead was coping with the side-effects of steroids and anti-seizure medications. Under Dr. DiNapoli's guidance, she gradually reduced her dose and eventually was able to discontinue the medications altogether.
Today, Sylvia could not be more grateful. "The whole staff at Mayfield and Jewish Hospital treated me so well. I was very scared, terrified, but everyone calmed me down -- even when they took the staples out in the office. It was painless. I appreciated the care, especially at the time when I needed it. I felt totally vulnerable, but I was well taken care of. I appreciate that.
"I'm grateful that I got such a fine neurosurgeon," she continues. "He was the one I needed for sure. Not only do I feel he saved my life, but he also saved my quality of life."
For Sylvia, retaining quality of life meant getting back to caregiving for her grandchildren and back to being a greens keeper. "My work is part of my story," she says. "Two months after surgery, I went back. That meant everything to me."
Hope Story Disclaimer -"Sylvia'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.