At work, she would ask colleagues questions that they had just addressed in a meeting. And at home, she would talk with her husband and repeatedly ask him the same questions, raising his concern. “I was making excuses for my memory,” said Nicole. “I was getting the girls ready for college, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget things.”
After initially trying to shrug off these issues, she made an appointment with her general practitioner, who ran some blood work and ordered an MRI. She was driving to work when she received a call from the radiologist’s office. They told her to go to the Emergency Department at North Shore University Hospital right away because they found a large mass on her brain. “I’m a fairly healthy person,” said Nicole. “To learn that I had a brain tumor was really shocking and scary. I didn’t know what to do.”
She was admitted to the hospital for further testing, including blood work, a CT scan and an additional MRI, which showed she had a craniopharyngioma, a noncancerous tumor that grows near the pituitary gland. She met with neurosurgeon, Mark Bruce Eisenberg, MD, who assembled a surgical team to remove the tumor just six days later. “My husband and I discussed whether we should get other medical opinions, but it was evident that time was of the essence,” she said.
Nicole was able to have minimally invasive surgery because the mass was accessible through the nose and sinus passages. Using small surgical tools, Dr. Eisenberg and his team created a pathway up to the tumor to remove it. “Going in through the nose was great because it makes recovery time much better,” said Nicole, adding that the other option is to cut a hole in the skull to remove the growth. The operation took a little less than eight hours.