Rare tumor changes executive's direction

For Sharon Scrima, a 43-year-old from Lynbrook, what was supposed to be a relaxing Caribbean cruise turned out to be quite the opposite. During the trip, sudden nausea struck — and didn’t go away even after she returned home. She also began to experience frequent headaches. A former human resources executive at an investment banking firm, Ms. Scrima hardly ever missed work due to illness, so she was at a loss as to what was happening.

She found the answer at North Shore University Hospital, where a computed tomography (CT) scan revealed a mass, called an acoustic neuroma, about the size of a golf ball. Located at the base of her skull, the tumor put pressure on Ms. Scrima’s brain stem and had the potential to cause seizures.

“An acoustic neuroma, also known as a vestibular schwannoma, is a slow-growing tumor of the nerve that connects the ear to the brain,” explained Michael Schulder, MD, director of the Brain Tumor Center at North Shore-LIJ’s Cushing Neuroscience Institute. “The treatment plan for acoustic neuromas varies depending on the patient’s age, as well as the size and location of the tumor.”

In Ms. Scrima’s case, 80 percent of the acoustic neuroma was removed through resection surgery and the remaining 20 percent was treated with stereotactic radiation therapy. “This combined treatment approach allowed us to preserve hearing and facial function as much as possible,” Dr. Schulder said.

After such a life-changing experience, Ms. Scrima said, “I have such a greater appreciation for the people in my life, and I am so grateful for the outstanding medical care I received from Dr. Schulder and his staff at North Shore University Hospital.” She looks forward to her next phase and has begun working with a career coach to embark on her journey of self-exploration.

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