When a Florida mom was told she had a super-aggressive brain tumor, she felt she’d been handed a death sentence. Without removal or treatment, she’d only have a few months to live, and even adding treatment would only prolong her life another year or so if she didn’t have the tumor removed.
The problem? Her doctor said that her tumor was inoperable due to its location on her brain stem and was too risky to remove. They were willing to treat with radiation and chemotherapy and hope for the best, but she knew that to have a fighting chance, someone would need to remove her tumor.
Stephanie, 27 and the mother of one, turned to writing in her state of despair. She began a blog to keep friends and family updated on her diagnosis and journey, sharing not only details of her illness and what she was going through, but her thoughts and feelings during this time as well.
Fortunately, Dr. Michael Sughrue, a neurosurgeon who works at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City caught wind of her plight via a co-worker and left a comment on one of her blog entries. He told her he specializes in brain tumors that are difficult or thought to be impossible to remove, and that just because one doctor said it’s inoperable, that didn’t mean it really was.
He requested her imaging studies, and after viewing them, told Stephanie and her husband that he thought he could remove it, and although it wasn’t without risk, they decided to see what he had to say. The couple headed to Oklahoma, and within a few days, she had the surgery. Sughrue was able to remove 90 to 95 percent of her tumor and she is considered free of her cancer. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy for nearly two months and was able to return home on April 15.
Sughrue told People that some doctors will declare a tumor inoperable because of the risk of the surgery and removal process, which can sometimes be life-risking in and of itself. He takes a different approach — instead, he presents the patients with the options, including removal and the risks involved, and lets them make the choice.
While Stephanie doesn’t have a guarantee that she’ll be illness-free for the rest of her life, she is grateful for the chance Sughrue took on her, and is happy to be alive.