Surviving brain tumor

Patient Donell Hall


Patient Donell Hall on the job 6 months after brain tumor surgery

Imagine having one of the worst migraine headaches of your life while you’re driving to work, pulling over to call 911 and then waking up to find yourself in a hospital, awaiting emergency brain tumor surgery.

That was what happened to Donell Hall in November 2014.

Since the age of 14, the TV/video/broadcast producer had recurrent massive headaches. Every headache rendered him temporarily unable to speak clearly, which he thought was a side effect of a bad migraine.

But on that day in November everything changed. As Hall was being prepared for surgery to remove what turned out to be a brain tumor, he met Dr. Shawn Hervey-Jumper and some of the other Functional Wellness team members.  Continue reading

New microscope offers hope for tumor patients

New technology series

University of Michigan's Dr. Daniel Orringer with the new SRS microscope which promises to make brain tumor and other cancer surgeries safer and more efficient

University of Michigan’s Dr. Daniel Orringer with the new SRS microscope which promises to make brain tumor and other cancer surgeries safer and more efficient

Here at the University of Michigan we are testing a new microscope that will radically change brain tumor surgery—making it safer and more efficient. So far, we have used the microscope on tissues from 89 patients with great success.

Timing and location are important

One of the most difficult things for a brain surgeon is figuring out exactly where a brain tumor starts and stops because brain tumor tissue can be hard to distinguish from the rest of the brain. The new stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) microscope allows us to see the edges of a tumor in a few seconds instead of waiting the 30-45 minutes it usually takes for a frozen tumor section to be developed.

Right now, we are using the microscope on an experimental basis through grants from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program. We are using the microscope almost exclusively on neurosurgical cases. I’m also collaborating with Matt Spector, who is a head and neck surgeon, to look at squamous cell carcinoma.  Continue reading

Hail to the Little Victors: Colt DelVerne’s Story

colt delverneOur son Colt had been sick for a few weeks.  What doctors initially thought was migraines was getting worse – he was suffering from painful headaches and vomiting, and he seemed to be stumbling a lot.  We took him to our local emergency room, and what we learned there was beyond anything we’d imagined.  A CT scan identified a large tumor in his brain that was blocking his fourth ventricle.  Colt was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma, a fast-growing, high-grade tumor.  He was just four years old.

We were devastated.  We thought it was a death sentence for our little boy.

I remember the doctors sat us down and told us they needed to operate to remove the tumor the next day.  My husband and I looked at each other, and we knew we wouldn’t be comfortable having anyone other than the pediatric neurosurgeons at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital caring for our little boy.

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