For months, Kathleen Cruz, 64, would have sudden onset headaches when she bent over. A legal secretary, she attributed her symptoms to stress.
The excruciating headaches on December 16, 2014 sent her to the Emergency Department at Holy Cross Hospital…but only after weeks of headaches accompanied by hand tremors, being off-balance, weight loss and nausea.
Doctors found a mass on her cerebellum. The rare tumor – a hemangioblastoma – was pressing on her brain stem, causing her symptoms and headaches. Of more concern, the tumor was obstructing the passage of spinal fluid from her brain, elevating the pressure in her head—a diagnosis called hydrocephalus, which if left untreated could have killed her in a matter of weeks. Brain surgery was required, not only to remove the tumor but to also relieve the hydrocephalus. Using the StealthStation® Surgical Navigation System, specially designed for surgeries in the complex and delicate areas of the spine and brain, Dr. Ali Jourabchi Ghods removed the mass, later deemed benign.
“When I first saw Mrs. Cruz in the ER after reviewing her CT, I thought she may have a malignant brain tumor or metastasis based on just sheer location and chances,” Dr. Ghods said. “However, after the MRI was completed, it looked suspicious. It had the classic appearance of a hemangioblastoma, which is very rare. In 7 years of training at a large university hospital, I have only seen this type of tumor one time. Additionally, they tend to occur in younger people. I assured both Mrs. Cruz and her husband, Rolando, that based on the MRI, I was hoping we were dealing with a hemangioblastoma because surgery was 100% curative, versus something more aggressive such as metastasis. During surgery, it was obvious this was a vascular tumor and when our pathologist said this was a hemangioblastoma, we had the good news delivered to Rolando. We took the tumor out in its entirety and in the same sitting cured her of her hydrocephalus. She was a champ in the OR and a champ after, and went home without any complications or setbacks.”
“I was comfortable with him,” Mrs. Cruz said of Dr. Ghods. “Everything he said came through. Dr. Michael Rush made sure I got the CAT scan right away. Another 2 to 4 weeks of this and I could have gone into a coma.”
When she came for a follow-up visit three weeks post-surgery, Mrs. Cruz was looking healthy and inquiring about resuming yoga. Although she works in Fort Lauderdale, Mrs. Cruz’s full-time residence is in Port Charlotte—more than 150 miles away on Florida’s west coast— where she is resting and recovering under the watchful eye of her husband, who is now a Holy Cross enthusiast. “Thanks to Dr. Rush and Dr. Ghods, Holy Cross is now my first choice,” Mr. Cruz said. “Dr. Ghods is someone very special. He is enthusiastic, caring, aggressive, loving. He was on the money. He knows what he is doing.”
“She is the Eveready Bunny,“ Mr. Cruz said of his wife. “She never stops.” And thanks to the team at Holy Cross Hospital, she can keep going.
Dr. Ali Jourabchi Ghods is a neurosurgeon who practices in Fort Lauderdale, FL and is a member of the Holy Cross Medical Group. For more information on Dr. Ghods, call 954-440-7606.