Semiretired and working part-time at a restaurant, Lynne knew something was amiss when she looked at the cash register and then struggled to make her hands produce the correct amount of change. Could she have suffered a stroke?
Lynne pushed the thought aside until one of her daughters insisted on taking her to a hospital, where a CT scan and lung X-ray revealed the double-barreled problem: an egg-sized tumor in her lung and a cherry-sized tumor in her brain. The brain tumor was metastatic, caused when cancerous cells from Lynne’s lung traveled to her brain. Four days later, Lynne met the UC Brain Tumor Center team that would help save her life. Neurosurgeons removed the metastatic tumor from her left temporal lobe and performed aggressive, localized secondary treatment by lining the tumor cavity with tiny radiation seeds the size of grains of rice.
As she recovered from brain surgery, a second team of surgeons made plans to remove the tumor in her lung. Eventually sound but not yet safe, Lynne underwent regular MRI’s. At 9 months a routine scan picked up two pea-sized brain tumors. This time the Brain Tumor Center team took aim with focused beams of radiation from a linear accelerator. Lynne was treated using a noninvasive mask that was custom fit to her head – no bolts or surgically implanted pins necessary. Stereotactic radiosurgery took about an hour, leaving no side effects.
Today, after five years without a recurrence, Lynne lives a life of wellness and adherence to the Buddhist faith. “Since cancer, I’ve changed my whole attitude on life,” she says. “My faith has become very special to me. I call it my gift of cancer.”