An estimated 700,000 people in the United States are living with a brain tumor. And for those with cancerous tumors, the 5-year survival rate is only 36 percent.
But now, new advanced technologies are giving surgeons the tools they need to not only save lives, but also maintain the quality of life for their patients.
From fast cars to fast motorcycles, Sabrina Leamon is a risk taker! She and her boyfriend TJ Hunt are social media influencers. He builds and modifies cars, both developing the content to keep two million subscribers in suspense. But last year their journey took an unexpected turn.
“We share our lives for a living,” says Sabrina, brain tumor survivor. “So we thought, ‘Are we going to talk about this personal part?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ The message behind the channel is to keep evolving, whatever life throws at you. “
So Sabrina shared her story. She was diagnosed with a grade II diffuse glioma after a grand mal seizure. “You have found a mass,” says Sabrina. “I ended up having brain surgery.”
“We basically peel off her entire temporal lobe,” says Thomas Beaumont, assistant professor of neurological surgery at UC San Diego Health.
Beaumont used advanced technologies called neuronavigation, fiber tractography, and interoperative MRI scanners. By combining all of the images, he created a very detailed map. “When I perform the operation, it is projected onto my eyes through the microscope in three-dimensional space,” says Beaumont.
Sabrina’s team removed all but four percent of the tumor, extending her survival from 22 months to 15 years. It gives science more time to find a cure and Sabrina more time to do what it loves. “You can get through this,” she says. “No matter how dark life is, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.”
Doctors will watch the remaining tumor cells closely, but they believe she won’t need another surgery in more than a decade.
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