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Carol’s Spinal Cord Tumor

I thank God I am alive today! I praise the doctors and the CyberKnife System treatment, as I am the longest living survivor to undergo this procedure on a tumor on the spinal cord.

In 1984, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a result, I had my left breast removed. I underwent one year of Chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation, I felt like dying. Thanks to my faith in God and the support of my loving family I had the strength to carry on. In time I began to resume a normal life, but the fear of a reoccurrence of cancer was always in the back of my mind.

In 1994, I began to have severe back pain. After a year of tests, the doctors were unable to pinpoint the problem. The pain was excruciating. I could not sit, lay down or walk without pain, even Vicodin did not help.

Finally, an MRI showed I had a tumor on my spinal cord. The doctors told me that without surgery to remove the tumor I would be paraplegic, or if the tumor was malignant, my chance of surviving was almost none. I had the surgery, and it took months of physical therapy and rest to recover, but the scare of death never healed.

In 1999, again, the back pain, the soreness in my legs and the mental anguish began. How could I fight again to live?

An MRI revealed the tumor on my spinal cord had reappeared. I was devastated. The doctor told me they could operate again by either opening up my back or surgically going through my chest, which involved removing ribs and intestines. The doctor ruled out the first option and said that option would be extremely delicate and risky. An alternative was offered to go to Stanford and undergo the CyberKnife System. I realized this was my only hope at saving my life.

After extensive exams, four stainless steel screws were placed in my spine to pinpoint the tumor. The doctors at Stanford were wonderful. They were sensitive to my needs and their confidence in this new procedure. I wanted to live no matter the risks that I would endure. After three outpatient visits, the miracle my family prayed for was taking place. After each treatment I would get off the table and enjoy lunch with my husband.

It has now been two years since the bloodless procedure took place. My life has quickly returned to normal as a wife, mother and grandmother. My thanks go to the many doctors at Stanford, especially Dr. John Adler. Each day is filled with happiness knowing that I am a survivor. I praise God, my family, the doctors involved, and the miracle of medical science. Without the CyberKnife System, I would not be here to talk about it. I am no longer haunted by thoughts of death. My life has been truly blessed.

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