A Long, Difficult Journey Saved By Gamma Knife

“It was a very good experience. You think it’s going to be surgery, but it’s not.”

When you hear the vibrancy in Paula Courtney’s voice, you would never expect that she spent several years fighting for her life. She believes it was fate that she ended up at The Valley Hospital and The Valley Gamma Knife Center when her previously treated lung cancer was discovered to have metastasized to her brain at the age of 55.

One year after treatment of her lung cancer, and while at work, Paula felt a heaviness in her chest and uncontrollable shaking in her arms and legs. “When I collapsed and I couldn’t stand up, I knew something was wrong.”

The paramedics arrived and transported Paula to The Valley Hospital, where she immediately received a CT scan of her head in the emergency room. Within a few hours, she met Dr. Anthony D’Ambrosio, who identified an area of swelling in her brain.

“Dr. D’Ambrosio explained that he could definitely see a mass in the swelling and that it was very likely a metastatic lesion.”

Paula was placed on steroids to reduce the swelling in the brain, while Dr. D’Ambrosio determined the best course of treatment – to perform a craniotomy to remove the mass. Four days after her arrival at The Valley Hospital, Paula underwent a successful craniotomy performed by Dr. D’Ambrosio.

“Dr. D’Ambrosio truly is the most fantastic physician. I was absolutely terrified of the craniotomy procedure, and he just explained everything so thoroughly and calmed all my fears. He’s an extraordinary surgeon and an extraordinary person. It was incredible to have the reassurance that I was safe in his care.” 

After the successful craniotomy, Dr. D’Ambrosio recommended Paula undergo Gamma Knife radiosurgery in order to ensure that any remaining cells from the perimeter of the cavity where the tumor was removed were treated. With complete trust in Dr. D’Ambrosio, Paula arrived at The Valley Gamma Knife Center for her procedure two weeks later.

“When I arrived at The Valley Gamma Knife Center, I was greeted by two amazing nurses, Susan and Kelly. They were just as wonderful as Dr. D’Ambrosio. They explained the entire procedure and made me feel completely at ease. You can tell they put a lot of care into the facility so that it doesn’t feel like a hospital, but more like a spa-like environment. It was peaceful and quiet and I felt completely comfortable.”

On the day of the treatment, Paula was given four injections of a local anesthetic and fitted with a frame used to keep the head in place during the procedure. An MRI was then conducted to map out the treatment plan and to determine the exact dosage and focus of the radiation. Paula’s Gamma Knife treatment was then completed in about an hour and she returned home later that evening.

“It was a very good experience. You think it’s going to be surgery, but it’s not. I was so relaxed during the procedure and I didn’t feel a thing. The day after the treatment I felt great and no pain at all.”

Dr. D’Ambrosio was happy to be a part of Paula’s success story. “Being a part of Paula’s medical team is both an honor and a privilege. Being able to provide best-in-class brain surgery and Gamma Knife radiosurgery for my friends and neighbors, like Paula, in my home state of New Jersey, is absolutely thrilling. I look forward to seeing my friends, Paula and her husband, at every visit. Being able to tell her that her “scans are clean”, thanks to the great team of doctors, nurses and staff at The Valley Hospital, is what it’s all about.  She’s the best!”

The Gamma Knife radiosurgery treatment was a success. Three years later, Paula continues to be cancer-free. She visits Dr. D’Ambrosio every three months for follow-up scans and is thankful to have met the doctor who helped save her life.

“I am so thankful that this caliber of care is accessible in New Jersey and that I did not have to travel to New York City for this treatment on top of the stress of fighting cancer.  I am currently feeling happy and healthy and I owe that to Dr. D’Ambrosio and his world-class team at The Valley Gamma Knife Center.”

* This procedure may not be suitable for every patient. All patients must be evaluated by a physician as to the appropriateness of performing the procedure. The above testimonial represents the individual's response and reaction to the procedure; however, no medical procedure is risk-free. Associated potential risks and complications should be discussed with the physician rendering this procedure.

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