For 41-year-old Louisiana native Eric von Aspern, being diagnosed with a meningioma, a benign brain tumor that was near his optic nerve, came at a time when he least expected it.
“It was ski season, and I was snowboarding. I didn’t feel right, but I wrote most of my symptoms off as the high altitude and sinuses,” Eric said. “When I got home, they discovered the tumor.”
In December 2015, he had traditional brain surgery to remove the tumor, but doctors were unable to reach all of it, leaving Eric with residual areas affecting his sight that needed alternative treatment. As a video production manager for a large company, Eric travels often and relies on vision as his main tool.
“This is my eyesight, this is my life, this is my career at stake.”
Eric tried other centers, traveling hundreds of miles from home to find a solution, but couldn’t find anything to meet his individual needs. In 2016, he discovered Gamma Knife Icon, one of the most effective treatments for those diagnosed with a meningioma, was being installed at Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.
“I knew I wanted the Gamma Knife treatment because some hospitals have older technology, which still requires a frame to be screwed into your head,” Eric explained.
Gamma Knife Icon, a noninvasive treatment, has a more comfortable frameless option for most patients, in which a custom mesh mask is used to hold their head in place. The precision of the technology allows for radiation to be delivered with pin-point accuracy – preserving the optic nerve from damage while targeting the tumor.At the Cancer Center, Eric received the treatment he needed quickly and efficiently, going back to work the same day as the procedure.
“To paint a picture, I showed up on a Monday, got the MRI, the CT and they custom fit a mask that would hold my head in place during the procedure. Wednesday morning, I showed up for the treatment, and I was back to work after lunch,” Eric shared.
Since the Gamma Knife Icon procedure, Eric hasn’t experienced any other symptoms. He continues to follow up with bi-annual appointments, but feels it has been “100 percent successful.”
“After my diagnosis, I had to sit out snowboarding for a year. Now, since my treatment, I’ve already gone three times. I’m fully able to get back to the things I love.”