Six weeks post-op

I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma in May of 2018. I was 18 years old and about to graduate high school. I had been having trouble hearing out of my right ear and it was slowly getting worse. My ENT doctor suspected a mass being responsible for my lack of hearing, so he ordered an MRI that resulted in the discovery of a 2.4 cm tumor. I then visited a neurotologist who suggested surgery to remove it, but was unsure of how to approach the surgery. Next, I visited a neurosurgeon who didn’t want to even touch my tumor and recommended multiple doses of radiation. Later, a radiation oncologist strongly disagreed and insisted on a single dose radiation. All these conflicting recommendations made me very concerned and uncomfortable, especially because treating this type of tumor requires a team of doctors who communicate with one another and agree. 

It’s around this time that a friend urged me to get a second opinion from the House Clinic. So I sent the copy of my MRI to Dr. Eric Wilkinson who gave me a free consultation over the phone. He gave me valuable information to help me make an educated decision for the best treatment, and he always promptly answered my emails of any subsequent questions I had. He was very knowledgeable and very experienced, and based on the location and size of my tumor, he and Dr. Gregory Lekovic recommended the transotic surgical approach, which is an extension to the translabrynthine approach. I knew I was in good hands with them. 

After some insurance issues (we finally switched to a different plan), my surgery was scheduled for March, 27th, 2019. By then my tumor had further grown to 2.6 cm, but Drs. Wilkinson, Lekovic, and Noonan, who wanted me to have the best quality of life possible, were able to successfully remove the whole tumor with no damage to my facial nerve. Losing my hearing was a small price to pay in exchange for an intact face.  

Over the next few days in the hospital, I truly felt the compassion of all the doctors and nurses, both from the House Clinic and from St. Vincent’s.  They all treated me as if I were their daughter. I recovered well and was told I was doing better than 90% of patients at that stage of recovery.

I’m so grateful to Drs. Lekovic, Wilkinson, and Noonan for being my doctors, and I’m glad I chose to be treated by them for the best outcome possible. 

Nataliya Saracino

― Nataliya Saracino