I’m a classic bike restorer and brain cancer survivor. I am Henry.
It started with a sudden numbness in his face and right side. At first, Tom thought nothing of it. But when it started happening multiple times a day, he went for an MRI. The test revealed a glioma—a type of brain tumor deep inside the brain. The location, along with the tumor’s ill-defined boundaries, led doctors to declare it incurable.
To say Tom was shocked is an understatement. He is a quality control manager at U.S. Steel and is in excellent physical condition. He’s in bed every night by 7:30, doesn’t drink or smoke, and spends his free time refurbishing old bicycles. His mother recently passed, but he still lives around the block from his father, and together they work on his late mother’s classic car. “The last thing I expected at age 62 was to be diagnosed with a brain tumor,” he says.
Enter Dr. Adam M. Robin, a senior neurosurgeon at Henry Ford Health, who had a plan that would have been impossible just a few years prior. Using MRI imaging to guide a laser ablation system, Dr. Robin and his team made three small incisions in Tom’s skull. They then inserted three laser fibers to direct light and heat energy to specifically target—and destroy—Tom’s cancer cells while sparing surrounding tissue.
“It was amazing!” Tom says. “I had minimal side effects. I didn’t even take pain medication after the surgery.” To be able to drill into your brain and miss all those critical areas for motor coordination, vision or speech and still get the job done – is amazing!”
Several months later, the procedure was repeated using two laser fibers to kill the last few portions of the tumor. For this, Tom required an overnight hospital stay before recovering at home for several weeks. After this brief recuperation period, Tom was cleared to return to work.
“Overall, there was a small surgical footprint,” says Dr. Robin. “In the past, this type of surgery would have been done with an open craniotomy while the patient was awake,” says Dr. Robin.
The procedure, along with Tom’s recovery, seem miraculous given his initial prognosis.
“I am nothing but amazed by Dr. Robin and Dr. James Snyder, my neuro-oncologist, and the staff,” Tom says. “Everyone was excellent, very efficient. From the very beginning, Dr. Robin was very confident. I couldn’t have had a better turnout.”
Tom’s recovery is tempered by the notion that his tumor could come back some day. Gliomas are rarely gone for good. But still, even in the face of a potential recurrence, Tom is confident in his Henry Ford Health team.
“The odds are this will come back. My hope is that it’s treatable. I’m very positive about what has happened so far. I can’t say enough good things about Henry Ford Health.” His doctors believe there’s a decent chance his tumor won’t return. But in the event it does, they now have a solid plan to keep Tom alive, well and pursuing his passions. A testament to the powerful possibilities of modern medicine and one man’s inner-Henry.