THE ART OF HEALING
Diagnosed with a large brain tumor, artist Sally Myers has
made a full recovery surrounded by expert neurosurgical
and rehabilitative staff at Winchester Medical Center
In the summer of 2017, Sally Myers, an artist who lives and works on a large
farm near Winchester, noticed she was growing unusually quiet. It took
her a while to realize it, she says, because she often works in solitude in her
studio, creating dramatic steel and clay sculptures inspired by nature. Eventually
changes in her behavior also began to worry her friends.
She remembers attending a Shenandoah Arts Council meeting, for
example, and never saying a word. “Other times, I’d sit down at home
and could not decide what to do for hours at a time,” she recalls. “I wasn’t
alarmed, but a friend was worried and suggested I might have had a stroke.”
She made an appointment with her general practitioner, who ordered an
MRI. This scan revealed Myers had a large tumor—5 centimeters long—in
her brain. Diagnosed as a meningioma, the tumor was putting pressure
on her brain, so Myers was referred to Valley Health neurosurgeon Lee A.
Selznick, MD. He scheduled her for a craniotomy—a procedure in which
a section of the skull bone is removed in order to access the brain—and
removed the tumor.
“Sally’s tumor was on the left side of her brain, which affects language
function, and in the frontal lobe, which affects executive function,” Dr.
Selznick says. “Fortunately, the symptoms she was experiencing were
reversible because this part of the brain tends to be more forgiving than
other areas. It’s likely that this tumor had been growing for many, many
years. A tumor this size would have caused serious problems much earlier
if it had been located in another area of the brain.”
The craniotomy, which Dr. Selznick performed at Winchester Medical
Center (WMC) in November of 2017, was a four-hour procedure that
involved a straight-line incision along Myers’ hairline; this minimized
both scarring and the amount of hair that needed to be shaved. “We used
delicate instruments and an advanced technique called neuronavigation to
remove the tumor,” Dr. Selznick explains. This minimally invasive procedure
uses a computerized model of the brain created from the MRI results.
“Neuronavigation allows me to see exactly where I’m working, so I am
targeting precise locations,” Dr. Selznick says. “It’s like GPS for the brain.”
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