In 2006, at the age of 19, Mark Juve was just beginning his freshman year at the University of Dayton. An avid golfer and engaged student, he was getting adjusted to college life.
But, he started getting exceptionally painful headaches. After undergoing a local hospital's CT scan, Mark called his parents Rick and Sharon.
The Juve family went to the local neurologist’s office, where the diagnosis was not good. "He thought I had brain cancer," Mark remembered. Due to the location of the mass, doctors were unable to perform a biopsy, leaving Mark and his family without a definitive diagnosis.
As the Juve family began exploring their treatment options, surgeons were recommended from around the country, including Akron and Cleveland, but it was the recommendation of a Boston-based neurosurgeon that sent the Juves to Pittsburgh. "My friend mentioned that there were people in Pittsburgh who could do brain surgery through the nose, and that they’ve pioneered this technique and are really the best in the world," Rick said.
UPMC is known worldwide for pioneering and innovative efforts to develop the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA), a minimally invasive technique to remove tumors deep in the brain and along the base of the skull.
Once the Juves traveled to Pittsburgh, "They looked at my son’s CT scan and promised to give us world-class care. I really feel we got that," Rick recalled. Mark, too, was struck by the doctors at UPMC. "The other surgeons we met with, they weren’t sure about the best treatment plan. Some said I would have to have surgery through my skull, and that would have been pretty hard to deal with. But the surgeons at UPMC were so confident that they could perform the surgery I needed using the EEA, it really made me feel so much better."
Mark’s treatment strategy progressed quickly, beginning with an endonasal surgical procedure that lasted six or seven hours. "The first day after my surgery, I felt pretty terrible," Mark recalled. "I was nauseated, and I had a really serious headache. But slowly things started improving, and after the third day I was feeling better." Only after his surgery did Mark and his parents learn that he did not have brain cancer but rather a cyst, otherwise known as a lesion, at the base of his brain.
Mark’s family noticed his improvement immediately. "His headaches, they just went away," his father Rick remembered. "We spent three weeks in the hospital with Mark, and during that time we saw so many other patients who had very serious medical conditions. And it was amazing to see how the people at UPMC were truly saving lives every day."
The Juve family realized that they could help to continue improving EEA and other minimally invasive techniques by making a gift in support of UPMC. "Brain tumors are obviously serious medical conditions," said Rick. "We wanted to do our part to help move this technology forward. The people at UPMC are really the pioneers, not just inventing new ways to treat people but helping teach other doctors how to do the same thing."