Survivor Stories


Benign Tumors

All is GOOD! by Phil Wolf

Language: ENG

In May of 2007, I was at a party and passed out. I was taken by ambulance to San Antonio Hospital in Upland. The doctor’s weren’t sure what caused me to black out, so they ran all of the basic tests to rule out stroke and heart attack. But, the MRI of my head revealed a Pituitary Tumor. My doctor’s suggested I have surgery to remove the tumor. I was told that if I did not have the surgery that the tumor could grow and eventually put pressure on the Optic Chiasm (optic nerve) which would cause tunnel vision. I opted for the surgery. After the surgery it was determined that my tumor was benign.
 
At that time, I chose not to have radiation treatments after the surgery. I guess I was concerned about the possible side effects. I did have MRI follow ups about every four months to keep an eye on the tumor.
All was well for about a year or so, with MRI’s showing little or no change in the size of the tumor. But then in September 2008 the MRI showed that the tumor was starting to grow again. Dr. Gorty, my Radiation Oncologist, and I had previously discussed that if the tumor ever started to grow, then we would have to do radiation.
 
I was going to have Gamma Knife (radiation) with a frame mounted on my head and have one large dose of radiation at San Antonio Hospital in Upland. But there was another problem. After the frame was mounted on my head, they did another MRI to accurately position the Gamma Knife so it would be exactly precise. But this time the MRI showed that the tumor was now too large to safely do one large dose of radiation.
 
In February 2009, I had to have a second surgery to shrink the pituitary tumor again so it would not continue to grow and cause vision problems. After this surgery I did not think twice and scheduled the radiation treatment. It was decided that multiple radiation treatments at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center’s Robert & Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center was now the best option.
 
In March of 2009, I began the first of 25 treatments. First they fitted me with a mask, so I could be placed on the bed in the same position every day. At first I was on the radiation bed about 15 minutes, which seemed like a long time. After about my fourth treatment the technology was in place to do RapidArc radiation.
 
It was on the same machine, but with the RapidArc the time spent getting the treatment was only a few minutes. Once the machine made adjustments the arm made one large arc, instead of multiple starts and stops. During the treatments I got a little metallic taste in my mouth, and I found a mint was helpful just before my treatments.
 
In August 2009 I had an MRI follow up to check on the status of the tumor. The pathology report showed that the tumor was slightly enlarged, but Dr. Gorty was not concerned he said that he was expecting a little swelling from the radiation.
 
The only side effect I noticed was a little fatigue in the beginning. I will continue to have MRI follow ups to double check if the tumor has stopped growing and hopefully shrinking.
 
But, for now all is good.
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