Joel Momberg struggles with life’s daily stresses like everyone else. When he started feeling numbness on his face, his doctor told him to slow down and take it easy. But the numbness didn’t subside and eventually spread to the entire right side of Joel’s face. That’s when Joel’s doctor sent him to the hospital.
An MRI discovered a schwannoma, a nonmalignant tumor, sitting on a sensory nerve on Joel’s brain. Joel was all too familiar with brain tumors. Fifteen years before, his brother was diagnosed with the most common and aggressive type of brain tumor, glioblastoma. Unfortunately, Joel’s brother lost his battle just a few years after being diagnosed.
While Joel’s tumor was not malignant like his brother’s, the tumor was sitting on the sensory nerve that controlled feeling to part of the right side of his face. Joel’s doctor, Harry van Loveren, M.D., chairman of the Neurosurgery Department at the University of South Florida, explained that surgery came with risks: if surgeons clipped the nerve, Joel could lose feeling permanently. Dr. van Loveren recommended treatment with the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System – a non-invasive alternative to treating the tumor.
While Joel was digesting this news, doctors discovered blockage in his arteries. Joel had to delay his brain tumor treatment so doctors could implant two stents. Shortly after his heart surgery, Joel followed his doctor’s advice and decided to receive treatment with the CyberKnife System.
“The other treatment options didn’t sound as promising,” said Joel. “The CyberKnife not only carried fewer side effects, it also appeared to be the most effective.”
This non-invasive procedure uses targeted beams of radiation to destroy tumors. This option minimizes the possibility of Joel’s nerve being compromised and allowed Joel a very good chance of avoiding another invasive procedure. Joel’s treatments started in June 2010.
To combat his anxiousness and avoid having to repeat his treatment experiences to family, Joel turned to the internet. On his blog—I Was Born Very Young—Joel wrote about his CyberKnife treatments and even poked fun at the procedure, including the mask he had to wear during treatment to minimize movement of his head. After the first couple treatments, Joel relaxed and used his half-hour appointments to sit back and listen to his iPod.
Throughout treatment, Joel continued his work at the University of South Florida. He would undergo his CyberKnife treatment in the morning and then head into the office. Joel never experienced any pain or discomfort.
After his treatments, the numbness in his face began to subside. Joel’s follow-up MRIs show that the tumor has shrunk dramatically in size. Today, he has regained all the feeling on the right side of his face…even his taste buds are working again.
“Technology has come so far since when my brother was diagnosed with brain cancer,” said Joel. “I don’t know where I would be today if it wasn’t for CyberKnife.”