Brain Tumor Treatment: Taking it One Step at a Time

By: Emory Brain Health Center
Date: Aug 12, 2020

Graduating college and getting ready to step out into the “real world” is a feeling many of us are familiar with, but for Daniel Meadows, the “real world” seemed anything but real. Just months after graduating from Auburn University in Alabama, Daniel found himself at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital waiting to undergo brain surgery to remove a tumor.

Lifechanging Diagnosis

Daniel had been dealing with painful, debilitating headaches for a while. MRI results showed that his headaches were caused by a lemon-sized tumor on his brain. The tumor was located right next to the part of the brain used for language and communication. Surprisingly, Daniel was not experiencing communication or language difficulties, but the tumor needed to be removed.

Watch Daniel’s story unfold.

Diagnosing with Precision

Before performing surgery, neurosurgeon Christopher Deibert, MD, needed to gain some vital information. He performed a functional MRI (fMRI) to measure and map brain activity. During the functional MRI, Daniel was asked to tap his fingers and think specific thoughts or words without saying them out loud. These actions caused certain parts of his brain to light up, which gave Dr. Deibert the information he needed to precisely navigate during surgery.

Participating in His Own Surgery

The thought of brain surgery is scary, but the thought of being awake during brain surgery takes a whole new level of courage — and that’s exactly what Daniel was going to have to do.

Dr. Deibert explains, “We want to monitor how well he can speak during surgery so that we don’t take out a part of his brain that affects his ability to talk. We can direct electrical impulses into the brain and if he temporarily can no longer speak, then we know this is an important part of the brain — an area we cannot do surgery on — and we have to avoid it.” The reason it was possible for him to be awake during the procedure is that the brain itself does not experience pain sensations — so, Daniel was not in any discomfort.

Daniel was asleep during the first 45 minutes of his surgery. Then his surgery team woke him up and asked him to engage in conversation and answer questions, while Dr. Deibert worked to remove his brain tumor. They had him count backward, answer simple math questions, identify objects and talk about sports for two hours before they let him go back to sleep.

Reclaiming His Health

Daniel recovered well from his surgery. He and his parents, Paul and Anita Meadows, met with Dr. Deibert to discuss the results of the procedure. The MRI successfully showed that every bit of the tumor had been removed. Unfortunately, the tumor was cancerous and some of the cells had likely spread.

While that was not the news Daniel wanted to hear, he intends to keep fighting and winning this battle — one step at a time. He has completed radiation therapy and is continuing with chemotherapy treatments. He says he feels well and has been able to work full-time throughout his treatments.

The youngest of four, Daniel is part of a close-knit family who’ve always enjoyed hiking together. While this mountain may seem like the most treacherous of all, they plan to conquer it.

About Your Fantastic Mind

Emory University and the Emory Brain Health Center have partnered with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) on a television series, Your Fantastic Mind, which features compelling stories on brain-related health and wellness.

Your Fantastic Mind will begin airing season 2 in late 2020 on GPB’s statewide television network. The news magazine-style show highlights patient stories and reports on cutting-edge science and clinical advances in neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, sleep medicine and rehabilitation medicine.

Season 1 of Your Fantastic Mind examined topics including sleep apnea, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, PTSD, Huntington’s disease, migraines and video gaming disorder, which has been designated a mental health disorder by the World Health Organization.

Jaye Watson is the show’s host, writer and executive producer. She is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning veteran Atlanta journalist and video producer for the Emory Brain Health Center.

Emory Brain Health Center

The Emory Brain Health Center uniquely integrates neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, rehabilitation medicine and sleep medicine to offer world-class, patient-centered care, treatment and discovery for brain and spinal cord conditions. Bringing these multiple specialties together allows more than 400 researchers and clinicians to work in partnership to predict, prevent, treat and cure devastating diseases and disorders of the brain more rapidly. These collaborations are demonstrated in numerous centers and programs across the Brain Health Center, including the Epilepsy Center, Pituitary Center, Stroke Center, Treatment-Resistant Depression Program and Veterans Program.

Emory’s multidisciplinary approach is transforming the world’s understanding of the vast frontiers of the brain, harnessing imagination and discovery to address 21st century challenges.

Learn more about comprehensive, diagnostic and innovative treatment options at the Emory Brain Health Center.

Schedule your appointment today.

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