Local doctors say it's the largest brain tumor they've ever seen
The pain was excruciating, unbearable, even bringing Timothy James to tears.
Timothy James, Brain Tumor Patient says "I ain't never experienced no pain like that.
James said his family convinced him, he had to go to the doctor. Good thing he did. An MRI showed he had a lot more than just painful migraines.
Timothy James says "That's when they found the tumor."
A brain tumor. A very large brain tumor.
Dr. Joseph Miller, a Neuro-Surgeon at Erlanger Medical Center says "The tumors that I often see are typically large, they cause symptoms, very similar to the gentleman we're talking about now, headaches, visual problems, they can cause weakness, numbness."
Miller treated James, and said "Above the 3 cm mark that's considered a large tumor. To give you a perspective on this gentleman, his tumor was 7 1/2 cm."
That's more than double the size of what's considered a large tumor and it's also very rare.
Miller says "We typically do not tolerate large tumors within our skull without having significant symptoms."
James says "Before I went to the doctor, I couldn't stand to be around people." He was trying to use over-the-counter headache medication to lessen the pain, but nothing worked.
"I was eating a whole box a day, sometimes two or three a day. I would have to get in a dark room and cut the fan on real loud, darkness."
The only solution was surgery. Miller says "One of the most common surgeries I do is called a craniotomy to remove the brain tumor. He described the surgery as a very delicate operation that takes anywhere from 5-10 hours to perform.
"You identify the tumor, you identify the normal blood vessels and then using some new technology, like GPS for brain surgery combined with some special instruments to remove the tumor, you de-bulk the tumor, you make it smaller, you pull it into itself to the point where you can remove it in it's entirety," Miller said
The surgery was successful.
James says "Two days after surgery he saw me out walking around, I said I feel like I did before the surgery, but without the headaches, no pain."
Miller says on average he performs surgery on about 10 large brain tumors a year, but none as large as the one he removed from James. "That's the favorite part of my job to take someone with a massive tumor and give them their life back."
James says his recovery is going well, but he's still dealing with vision issues and his head is healing where the surgery was performed. "I think the Lord every day letting me see another day, he said he didn't see how I was still functioning."
Miller says about 3 in 100 people will have a brain tumor and never ever know they have it because it is small and they don't have any symptoms. While he doesn't want to concern everyone who has a headache that they have a brain tumor, it is important to contact your doctor if you have any of the following red flags :
- New headaches
- Headaches that start later in life
- Headaches in young children