“Everything is looking good, and my hearing is the same as it was before surgery.”
Adam Zawislak has a passion for music, rock ‘n’ roll in particular. He’s inspired by all flavors of rock, from classic and hard rock to homegrown and modern genres. And as a DJ for STEEL 93 online radio, Adam loves connecting with other rock music fans. “We all have memories rooted in music, and these songs become your life’s soundtrack,” Adam says.
As a kid, he remembers playing “what if” games with hypothetical questions like, “If you had to lose your eyesight or hearing, which would you choose?” Without a doubt, Adam would do anything to keep his hearing – and the same holds true today. That’s why he was in a panic when he started losing his hearing three years ago.
Sudden Hearing Loss
“I remember sitting at my desk and suddenly losing partial hearing in my left ear. It was very frightening,” Adam recalls. He saw his primary care doctor first, and when Adam’s hearing didn’t return to normal within a week, he went in for an MRI.
The MRI revealed an acoustic neuroma, a noncancerous, slow-growing tumor that forms between the brain and inner ear. If left untreated, an acoustic neuroma can lead to serious problems such as vertigo, ringing in the ears, hearing loss and balance disorders. In some cases, an acoustic neuroma can become life-threatening if it grows large enough to press on the brain.
“Getting the news that I had a brain tumor was unsettling. I just kept thinking, ‘this is so weird!’” Adam says. “But 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.”
Going Under The (Gamma) Knife
Anthony D’Ambrosio, M.D., a neurosurgeon and co-director of the Gamma Knife Center at Valley, met with Adam to discuss next steps for treatment. Dr. D’Ambrosio specializes in diagnosing and treating all types of malignant and benign tumors and other medical conditions of the brain and neurologic system.
Dr. D’Ambrosio recommended Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, which uses beams of highly focused radiation to shrink and destroy tumors of the head and neck without damaging surrounding tissue. With this noninvasive procedure, there’s less risk of permanent hearing loss compared to having neurosurgery to remove the tumor.
Adam had Gamma Knife Radiosurgery in June 2012. “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.”
The radio DJ gig is “just a hobby,” according to Adam, who works as a Cisco Systems network technician, but clearly it’s the highlight of his day. Says Adam: “I race home to do my radio thing—and just thank God I can hear.”
“My first impression during that initial visit was that I was in the hands of doctors and nurses who really know what they’re doing,” she says. “I felt so relieved and safe.”
Mary underwent Gamma Knife treatment on December 18, 2015. She’s been pain free since. “I was amazed at how prepared everyone was and how they went out of their way to make me feel comfortable,” she says. “The whole procedure took less than an hour. I wasn’t even nervous. I was just desperate for the treatment to get rid of the pain, and it worked. I’m a success story!”