Patient testimonials can be powerful. These stories can help people connect, and learning about the experiences of others in northern NJ can help you to feel more comfortable with an upcoming medical procedure.
Whether you are just beginning to learn about your acoustic neuroma treatment options or you already have your Gamma Knife radiosurgery scheduled at The Valley Gamma Knife Center, the patients featured below have decided to share their personal stories to help people like you. Learning more about your condition, how Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be used to treat it and what other people have been through can help you feel more comfortable wherever you are in the treatment process.
About Acoustic Neuromas
An acoustic neuroma is a benign brain tumor that develops from the 8th cranial nerve, called the vestibulocochlear nerve. This is the nerve that is responsible for hearing and balance, which is why you may be experiencing symptoms related to those senses. The tumor grows from the special cells that cover the nerve and, although benign, it can still cause issues by pressing on nearby structures, requiring treatment.
There are different treatment options available for acoustic neuromas, including monitoring, surgery and Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Sometimes, if your acoustic neuroma is very small and not causing symptoms, your doctor may choose to monitor it for changes. Other patients may require surgery, especially if their tumor is very large and/or they are young. However, many acoustic neuroma patients in the tri-state area will be excellent candidates for Gamma Knife radiosurgery.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for Acoustic Neuromas
In case you are unfamiliar with the technology, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is not a form of surgery at all but is actually a highly advanced form of radiation therapy. It is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require any incisions or hospital stay and has a shorter recovery time than surgery. It can be used as the primary treatment for your acoustic neuroma, or it can be used after surgery to ensure no tumor cells remain.
To help you understand how Gamma Knife radiosurgery is used to treat acoustic neuroma, it can be helpful to learn a little about the technology. During the procedure, nearly 200 individual beams of low-dose radiation are used to target your tumor. The precision is so fine that it can target an area the width of just one human hair. As a result, your doctor can shrink your tumor without damaging healthy nearby tissue, reducing risks and side effects.
Acoustic Neuroma Gamma Knife Stories
Now that you understand how Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be used to treat acoustic neuromas, you can see how it might benefit you as it has the patients whose stories are shared below. Read on to learn more about their acoustic neuroma Gamma Knife stories.
If there’s one sense a radio DJ cannot live without, it’s hearing. That’s why Adam Zawislak was so concerned when he spontaneously couldn’t hear in one ear. “I remember sitting at my desk and suddenly losing partial hearing in my left ear. It was very frightening.” He immediately visited his doctor, and when his hearing didn’t return after a week, he had an MRI. His doctors discovered he had an acoustic neuroma.
However, Adam learned more about his condition and treatment options. “I did my research and found out about The Valley Hospital. Even though I live in Vernon – an hour and a half from Ridgewood – it was an easy choice. If there was a chance for me to beat this thing and keep my hearing intact, the Gamma Knife Center at Valley was the way to go.”
Adam underwent Gamma Knife radiosurgery at The Valley Gamma Knife Center. “Everything went smoothly, and the results have been great,” Adam shares. “I’ve been going back every six months [and now on an annual basis] for follow-up MRIs. Everything is looking good, and my hearing is the same as it was before surgery.”
Sometimes an acoustic neuroma shows up on an MRI when doctors are looking for something else, making it an incidental finding. Marlene Gomez was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor when she was 18 years old, but it was small and not causing any symptoms. However, during a follow-up MRI in 2007, her doctors discovered an acoustic neuroma growing in her left ear. “At the time, the acoustic neuroma was small enough that my doctors felt it was safe to watch it and repeat the MRI in about a year or so,” recalls Marlene. “Amazingly, I did not have any of the usual symptoms of dizziness, tinnitus, or hearing problems, and my migraines disappeared.”
However, her acoustic neuroma did continue to grow, requiring treatment about a year later. She was offered the choice between traditional surgery and Gamma Knife radiosurgery. She says, “I was only 30 years old. I chose Gamma Knife treatment based on its effectiveness and safety.” She was especially grateful that she did not have to miss out on time with her family or her career during recovery. “Gamma Knife radiosurgery enabled me to return quickly to nursing full-time,” Marlene said, and she was back to work with full time within just five days of her treatment.
Your Own Acoustic Neuroma Gamma Knife Story
Hearing about the experiences of others and their acoustic neuroma Gamma Knife stories is a great way to know what to expect before, during and after your own treatment. However, because every patient is different, it is important to discuss any concerns or questions you may have with your personal doctor. He or she will work with you to ensure you are comfortable every step of the way.
"I chose Gamma Knife treatment based on its effectiveness and safety." - Marlene Gomez