Fall 2012 Issue
We Made A Difference For This New Father And His Family
Seth Tinsley knows all too well how quickly life can turn upside down. At the age of 29, this firefighter was eagerly awaiting the birth of his first child when he learned he had a life-threatening brain tumor. With the help of Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates neurosurgeon Tony Asher, MD, FACS, and other local, multidisciplinary brain tumor resources in the Charlotte area, Seth is now back at work and enjoying his life as a father and brain cancer survivor.
Seth had a history of headaches and sinus issues. Since adolescence, sinus pressure and headaches were common. Allergy medicine usually relieved his symptoms. But things changed dramatically in 2010. Seth was planning a family vacation when he experienced an intense headache that affected his vision and ability to focus.
“When he looked at my scan and saw the size of the tumor, Dr. Asher couldn’t believe I was still standing,” Seth explained. Surgery was the only option to relieve the pressure in his brain.
“Seth had a complicated tumor that required a multidisciplinary approach. His tumor was very large and was embedded within the areas of the brain responsible for vision and movement,” said Dr. Asher.
The brain tumor diagnosis and prospect of brain surgery was surprising and overwhelming for Seth and his family, as it is for most patients diagnosed with brain tumors. Fortunately, Renee Kelly, RN, BSN, Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates’ Brain Tumor Nurse Navigator was there to answer their questions and coordinate Seth’s care across the lines of the multidisciplinary team involving medical oncology, radiation oncology, neurosurgery, pathology, and nursing. (See related article in this issue for more information about our Brain Tumor Nurse Navigator.)
The operation took place just seven days after Seth’s diagnosis. “During Seth’s surgery, we used a variety of advanced intra-operative technologies that enabled us to precisely define the margins of the lesion, thus facilitating excellent removal of the tumor while increasing the safety of the procedure. Seth flew through this large operation with flying colors,” said Dr. Asher.
Post-op imaging indicated a gross total resection with all of the visible tumor removed. Analysis of the tumor in the lab suggested a pathology that had a strong tendency to recur. For that reason, Dr. Asher suggested that Seth consult with his radiation and medical oncology colleagues. The decision was made to monitor Seth with PET scans, to uncover any changes that may indicate a conversion to a higher-grade lesion.
Six months after the surgery, Seth’s medical oncologist, Daniel Haggstrom, MD, recommended proceeding with chemotherapy while saving the radiation therapy option for future treatment. Seth tolerated chemotherapy well and completed 12 cycles of temozolomide.
Shortly after Christmas 2011, a post-treatment scan indicated a gradual enlargement of the posterior portion of the resection cavity. This growth meant a more aggressive approach for treating Seth was warranted.
Seth’s case was again reviewed by Dr. Asher, Dr. Haggstrom, and the Multidisciplinary Brain Tumor Conference. It was determined that another round of chemotherapy and radiation therapy should be employed. But first, a second resection was needed to remove as much of the remaining tumor as possible. In April 2012, just four days after his daughter’s first birthday, Seth underwent a second brain surgery. The operation was successful, removing as much of the lesion as possible. Radiation and chemotherapy treatments followed.
Radiation oncologist Stuart Burri, MD, treated Seth with radiation therapy from May to June of 2012. Seth tolerated the treatment well but experienced the expected alopecia and fatigue. Today, Seth is back on the job as a firefighter in Charlotte. He’s also kayaking, mountain biking, and enjoying the outdoors. Most important, he’s enjoying his life as a father to his little girl.
“The best part of my experience with Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates was that I never felt like a number,” said Seth. “From talking to Dr. Asher before my surgeries, to the nurses and staff who recognized me at each office visit, to Renee answering my questions, it was a very personal, one-on-one atmosphere.”
“Seth is a prime example of the results we can achieve with the multidisciplinary brain tumor resources that are available right here in the Charlotte region,” said Dr. Asher.
For more information about the brain tumor services at Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, call 800-344-6716. To view a video interview with Seth, go to www.cnsa.com/seth.
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