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Brain Surgery Patient Stories

Patient stories on this page:

Pituitary and Skull Base Tumor Patients

Aaron McMahon: International Chondrosarcoma Patient Story Thumbnail

Meet Aaron

Chondrosarcoma patient
With limited treatment options, this Irish teen found a second chance at UPMC.

Read Aaron's story

Meet Nickkie Thumbnail

Meet Nickkie

Tentorial meningioma patient
When this New Zealand native discovered she had a benign tumor along the surface of her brain, she turned to experts at UPMC to handle her care.

Read Nickkie's story

Meet Steve

Cushing's disease patient
When the pain and dizziness Steve had been living with for years turned out to be Cushing's disease, he was referred to the experts at UPMC.

Read Steve's story

Meet Eddie

Acoustic neuroma patient
Afraid that removing his brain tumor could lead to the loss of his hearing, this California resident chose to travel across the country for the expert Gamma Knife® care offered at UPMC.

Read Eddie's story

Meet Leslie

Pituitary tumor patient
When her blurry eyesight led to the discovery of a brain tumor, this busy manager was thankful to live in Pittsburgh and have easy access to the UPMC experts she knew she could trust.

Read Leslie's story

Carol Cambridge - Craniopharyngioma Patient Story

Meet Carol

Craniopharyngioma patient
When a large brain tumor began affecting this avid fly fisherman’s vision, she turned to the experts at UPMC to keep her passion going.

Read Carol's story

Elsa Arce - Meningioma Patient Story

Meet Elsa

Meningioma patient
When this busy psychologist was diagnosed with a large meningioma that was pressing against her optic nerve, the experts at UPMC recommended EEA surgery to help restore her sight.

Read Elsa's story

Barbara Giaquinto – Acoustic Neuroma Patient Story 

Meet Barbara

Acoustic neuroma patient
When an acoustic neuroma began affecting her hearing and balance, this busy secretary found hope and relief at UPMC.

Read Barbara's story

Karina Tapia – Meningioma, Optic Nerve Compression Patient Story 

Meet Karina

Meningioma and optic nerve compression patient
When this Mexico native and active mother of two was diagnosed with a large brain tumor that was disturbing her vision, she turned to the experts at UPMC thousands of miles away.

Read Karina's story

Maria del Mar Minguez – Meningioma Patient Story 

Meet Maria

Meningioma patient
When Spain native Maria del Mar Minguez was diagnosed with a complex brain condition, her family and friends rallied to send her to the experts at UPMC.

Read Maria's story

Conor McKiernan – Angiofibroma Patient Story 

Meet Conor

Angiofibroma patient
After being diagnosed with a grapefruit-sized brain tumor, Conor McKiernan and his family found hope across the country, at UPMC.

Read Conor's story

Baylor Cox – Angiofibroma Patient Story 

Meet Baylor 

Angiofibroma patient
This high school football player and his family turned to the experts at UPMC when a rare and large tumor began pushing into his nasal cavity.

Read Baylor's story

Allison Ferguson - Rathke's Cleft Cyst Patient Story  

Meet Allison

Rathke's cleft cyst patient
After being diagnosed with a life-threatening brain cyst, this high school senior and her family turned to the experts at UPMC for treatment.

Read Allison's story

Archarya Yashovijaysuri - Meningioma  Patient Story 

Meet Acharya

Meningioma patient
When a Jain Guru with 1 million followers was losing his sight—and traditional surgery failed—his followers sought sight-saving endonasal brain surgery at UPMC in Pittsburgh.

Read Acharya's story

Edith Smith – Odontoid Synovial Cyst Patient Story 

Meet Edith

Odontoid synovial cyst patient
This busy registered nurse, faced with the threat of paralysis, found relief and a speedy recovery through EEA surgery at UPMC.

Read Edith's story

Haley Spitznagel – Craniopharyngioma Patient Story 

Meet Haley

Craniopharyngioma patient
Doctors first thought Haley Spitznagel was suffering from migraine headaches, but it turned out to be something much more serious.

Read Haley's story

Chester Ratcliff - Odontoid Pannus Patient Story  

Meet Chester

Odontoid Pannus patient
This active grandfather, faced with chronic pain and rapid degeneration, found hope, health, and a renewed life with his children and grandchildren.

Read Chester's story

Matthew Carls - Angiofibroma Patient Story

Meet Matthew

Angiofibroma patient
UPMC surgeons performed an extraordinary, nine-hour surgery that allowed this average 10-year-old to return to the everyday fun of being a kid.

Read Matthew's story

Meet Brant

Chordoma patient
During the search for someone experienced enough to treat a very rare and aggressive form of bone cancer in his skull, Brant found solace and hope at UPMC.

Read Brant's story

Meet Sharon

Craniopharyngioma patient
Faced with the loss of her vision, this librarian found new hope with the EEA surgeons at UPMC, who gave her back the gift of sight.

Read Sharon's story


Meet Elizabeth

Craniopharyngioma patient
After two previous brain surgeries, this woman found UPMC's expert team—and long-awaited relief from an aggressive tumor growing at the base of her skull near the pituitary gland.

Read Elizabeth's story

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Brain Tumor Patients

Chris Hahn: Meningioma Patient Story

Meet Chris

Meningioma patient
Doctor's found a brain tumor above Chris' right eye. Learn more about his procedure and experience at UPMC.

Read Chris' story

Meet Troy

Glioblastoma multiforme patient
A large lesion was found in the right parietal lobe of Troy's brain. He found help at UPMC.

Read Troy's story

Meet Mark

Epidermoid cyst patient
As the mayor of Danbury, Connecticut, Mark turned to the experts at UPMC when a large cyst threatened to end his run in politics.

Read Mark's story

Meet Lauren

Brain tumor patient
When this dedicated athlete and college student learned she had a massive brain tumor just as she was finishing college, UPMC got her back on her feet, tumor-free, with plenty of time to spare before her graduation ceremony.

Read Lauren's story

Meet Betsy

Meningioma patient
After being diagnosed with a large meningioma, Betsy underwent a traditional surgical procedure followed by Gamma Knife radiosurgery to keep the tumor from returning.

Read Betsy's story

Joe Stuckert - Brain Metastases Patient Story

Meet Joe

Brain metastases patient
Hoping to return to his active lifestyle after treatment for brain tumors, Joe Stuckert chose Gamma Knife radiosurgery at UPMC.

Read Joe's story

Earl Smalley – Meningioma Patient Story

Meet Earl

Meningioma patient
An apple-sized tumor in Earl Smalley’s brain was causing weight gain, depression symptoms, and low energy. He found relief through the experts at UPMC.

Read Earl's story

John Lynch – Arteriovenous Malformation Patient Story

Meet John

Arteriovenous malformation patient
When John Lynch was diagnosed with a potentially fatal brain disorder 25 years ago, he turned to groundbreaking Gamma Knife Radio surgery at UPMC.

Read John's story

Thomas Knox – Esthesioneuroblastoma Patient Story

Meet Thomas

Esthesioneuroblastoma patient
When Thomas developed a rare cancer in his sinus cavity, UPMC neurosurgeons acted quickly to remove the mass using the EEA technique.

Read Thomas' story

Travis Stangroom - Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma Patient Story

Meet Travis

Juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma patient
When Travis needed surgery for a juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, his family saw the benefits of minimally invasive Neuroendoport surgery.

Read Travis' story

William Byrd – Colloid Cyst Patient Story

Meet William

Colloid cyst patient
Headaches, memory loss and fainting spells were signs of a life-threatening cyst in William Byrd's brain. He found relief—and a chance to get his life back—at UPMC.

Read William's story

Karen Amato Schwartz – Glioblastoma Patient Story

Meet Karen

Glioblastoma patient
This freelance writer faced the ultimate deadline, as her team of UPMC neurosurgeons raced to remove a tennis-ball sized tumor using the Neuroendoport® approach. Discharged after two days, she began the next stage of treatment and was soon back to her normal routine.

Read Karen's story

Harry Shields – Meningioma Patient Story

Meet Harry

Meningioma patient
When Harry developed severe personality changes due to a large tumor, he turned to UPMC to get his life back.

Read Harry's story

Meet John

Brain tumor patient
After being diagnosed with a large brain tumor that was causing vision loss, this renowned woodworker sought the help of the experts at UPMC.

Read John's story

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Neurovascular Patients


Meet Crystal

When Crystal discovered she had a congenital defect in her brain that could have dangerous consequences if left untreated, she chose to put her care in the hands of neurological surgery expert, Dr. Robert Friedlander.

Read Crystal's story


Meet Dr. Cohen

Cavernous malformation patient
After Dr. Isaac Cohen, a Florida anesthesiologist, experienced hemorrhages from an abnormality in his brain, he traveled to UPMC for surgery.  

Read Dr. Cohen's story

Heather Abramovic – Cavernous Malformation Patient Story

Meet Heather

Cavernous malformation patient
When this busy college student suffered a series of life-threatening brain hemorrhages, she and her family turned to experts at UPMC.

Read Heather's story

Ashly Hunt - Cavernous Malformation Patient Story

Meet Ashly

Cavernous malformation patient
Ten years after undergoing her first brain surgery at UPMC, Ashly suffered from a second brain hemorrhage that required complex care. She once again turned to the chairman of neurological surgery at UPMC, Dr. Robert Friedlander, for his expertise.

Read Ashly's story

Amanda Tocci – Brain Aneurysm Patient Story

Meet Amanda

Brain Aneurysm patient
When this fitness enthusiast and college senior was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, the experts at UPMC were able to help her graduate on time and pursue her dream career.

Read Amanda's story

Dr. Mark Roberts

Meet Dr. Mark Roberts

Brain Aneurysm patient
When Dr. Mark Roberts, a professor and a physician was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, the experts at UPMC were able to help him recover with personalized care.

Read Dr. Mark Roberts' story

David Lucas

Meet David

Carotid Artery Stenosis patient
When musician David Lucas was diagnosed with carotid artery stenosis, the experts at UPMC were able to help him recover and get back to playing guitar.

Read David's story

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Cranial Nerve Disorder Patients

Emerson Prattis – Hemifacial Spasm Patient Story

Meet Emerson

Hemifacial spasm patient
This Delaware resident suffered from debilitating facial spasms for more than three decades before UPMC offered him a solution he didn’t know was possible.

Read Emerson's story

Meet Cordé

Trigeminal neuralgia patient
This dedicated mom turned to UPMC to help her get her life back when agonizing nerve pain in her face kept her from taking care of her family.

Read Cordé's story

Meet Yongie

Hemifacial spasm patient
When facial spasms drove her to hide at home and avoid social settings, this New Hampshire native chose UPMC to restore her confidence and her life.

Read Yongie's story

Dr. Richard Van Allen – Hemifacial Spasm Patient Story

Meet Richard

Hemifacial spasm patient
When Dr. Van Allan's symptoms from hemifacial spasm became unbearable, he chose to fly across the country to undergo microvascular decompression surgery at UPMC.

Read Richard's story

Gene Linck – Trigeminal Neuralgia Patient Story

Meet Gene

Trigeminal neuralgia patient
When this Korean War Veteran was struck with trigeminal neuralgia that was causing severe facial pain, he turned to the experts at UPMC.

Read Gene's story

Teri Cook – Hemifacial Spasm Patient Story

Meet Teri

Hemifacial spasm patient
When this Australian native began having symptoms of Hemifacial Spasm, she found that the most experienced surgeons for this condition were at UPMC.

Read Teri's story

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Movement Disorders and Epilepsy Patients

Meet Karen

Epilepsy patient
Karen’s seizures were interfering with her life, and they weren’t being controlled by medication alone. UPMC’s cutting-edge robotic diagnostic device allowed expert physicians to find the origin of her seizures and stop them.

Read Karen's story

Meet Amanda

Hypothalamic Hamartoma patient
Suffering from seizures since childhood, 21-year-old Amanda became the first patient in western Pennsylvania to have a Hypothalamic Hamartoma removed using laser thermal ablation.

Read Amanda's story

David Smith – Parkinson's Disease Patient Story

Meet David

Parkinson's disease patient
Suffering from severe Parkinson's disease symptoms, David was able to find hope - and relief - through asleep deep brain stimulation at UPMC.

Read David's story

Toni Pais – Parkinson's Disease Patient Story

Meet Toni

Parkinson's disease patient
When this renowned chef’s life was drastically changed after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he turned to the experts at UPMC for treatment.

Read Toni's story

Karen Larson - Essential tremor Patient Story

Meet Karen

Essential tremor patient
When uncontrolled shaking from essential tremor caused this art teacher to put down her brush, the experts at UPMC recommended DBS to help restore her passion. Read Karen's story.

Read Karen's story

Tim Liebrock - Epilepsy Patient Story

Meet Tim

Epilepsy patient
When this college student was diagnosed with epilepsy, surgery to remove a portion of his brain responsible for the seizures helped get back his life.

Read Tim's story

Sam Cook- Epilepsy Patient Story

Meet Sam

Epilepsy patient
With a fear of not knowing when another seizure would strike, Sam and his family sought the help of epilepsy surgery experts at UPMC.

Read Sam's story

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Chiari Malformation Patients

MaryMartha Ford – Chiari Malformation Patient Story

Meet MaryMartha

Chiari malformation patient
An avid dancer and singer, MaryMartha faced with a lifetime of symptoms caused by Chiari malformation. She found hope – and relief – at UPMC.

Read MaryMartha's story

Isabella Jones thumbnail

Meet Isabella

Chiari malformation
The first surgery Isabella had to treat her headaches and dizziness didn’t work. After two years of debilitating symptoms, she found UPMC and experienced the healing she’d been waiting for.

Read Isabella's story

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