Earl: The way I was living then, I didn’t want to do nothing. I didn’t care about nothing. I just existed. My wife said that I was just like a marshmallow sitting on the couch.
Rhonda: We were married, but that wasn’t the man I was married to.
Rhonda: We went to our local family doctor; she said he was just depressed. I said no. He lost his sense of smell and taste. He had excessive weight gain. And then he started telling me stories. He would wake up and he would say, “what do we have to do today?” I’d say, “nothing.” “Oh yeah, there’s something we have to do today.”
Earl: I was going out driving, hunting for things that I had dreamed of that actually seemed like real life to me.
Rhonda: It got to the point where they were going to stick him in a psychiatric ward at the local hospital. I said, you know, somebody needs to help my husband. I don’t care what he has, just—just help him. Went for an MRI, there was a 5.5 centimeter mass in his head. They said, you need to get to a neurosurgeon right away.
Earl: My boy’s a paramedic. He said, “don’t fool around here. Go to UPMC.”
Dr. Friedlander: What makes you an individual, what makes you different than everybody else, is your brain. The frontal lobes control your personality. It’s the spark of the kind of person that you are. With Earl, that was exactly where this very large tumor was growing. Removing it was a very risky operation. Would he ever recover what he already lost?
Earl: It was well worth the risk I took, because I would’ve rather died than lived like that.
Rhonda: Right off the bat, there was the biggest difference in him.
Earl: I enjoy life, I enjoy my granddaughter. UPMC got me back to my old self.
Dr. Friedlander: To be able to bring somebody back to life, essentially…to me, this was amazing.
Rhonda: I have my husband back.
Earl: Of course, now I have people telling me that I talk too much.
Earl: I feel lucky to have another chance at life, and to live it the best I can.
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Meet Earl Smalley
Suffering from a large meningioma, Earl turned to the experts at UPMC for treatment.