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#31 National Symposium -

In 2005, the national symposium for acoustic neuroma patients took place in Orlando, Florida. My husband and I made the decision to attend. We both wanted to learn more about radiation in case I ever needed treatment. The AN symposiums have informative presentations. Doctors are available to answer questions. Panels of doctors present case studies and talk about how they would treat the patient. They frequently differ on their approach. No wonder we, as patients, get confused about what to do.

I knew I didn’t want surgery. Brain surgery scared me, probably because of the trouble I had with gall bladder surgery five years earlier. I had gone to the hospital expecting to come home after the surgery. Instead I spent four miserable days in the hospital. The anesthesia was the problem. I couldn’t wake up and every time I started to wake up, I felt sick. If my body couldn’t handle removal of the gall bladder, how could it handle removal of a brain tumor? The surgeons all tried to reassure me that with different anesthetics, it wouldn’t be a problem. I also felt like my cognitive function had lessened after the gall bladder surgery. I just couldn’t think with the same speed I always had.

Gamma knife scared me because of the screws used to hold the machine in place. I nearly fainted when I saw a video of screws inserted into the skull. No thanks. But what else is available?

In Florida, I learned about the cyberknife machine and its delivery of radiation. It was developed by a surgeon who does both surgery and radiation for these tumors. Wow! I hadn’t seen such a doctor before. So far all the doctors I had seen do one or the other.Who better to advise me? A doctor who does both surgery and radiation wouldn’t be prejudiced for one kind of treatment over another. One problem. Located in California at Stanford Hospital, the doctor I learned about wasn’t close to my home state of Illinois. The bottom line is the symposium did help me decide – if I ever needed treatment, I would seriously think about cyberknife.

Whether you have had treatment or not, the AN symposiums are full of information. It feels good to meet so many patients who have the same diagnosis. “Like your support group on steroids,” is the way my husband described the experience.

See the picture of the cyberknife machine. Beams of radiation are delivered to the tumor from many different directions. This spares the healthy cells from being damaged by the radiation. To learn more about this type of radiation visit www.accuray.com The picture of the machine comes from that website.

*****

Dear God,

I thank you for the finances that allowed us to attend the conference. Thank you for the doctors and their explanations of various treatments.

Thank you for allowing us to meet so many different patients from all over the country. Each one has a story of their journey with the acoustic neuroma. Please be with them as they continue to either recover or decide about treatment. Amen.

Our bodies now disappoint us, but when they are raised, they will be full of glory. They are weak now, but when they are raised, they will be full of power. 1 Corinthians 15:43