Steph Moore doesn’t remember much about the latter part of July and early August – not even her birthday.
It was only after seeing pictures of a cake that she asked what is was for. Her sister, Becky, said the photos were from Steph’s birthday celebration.
Steph quipped, “Well if I don’t remember it, does that mean I didn’t turn a year older?”
Steph can joke about the situation now, but her medical condition was no laughing matter. Steph was struggling with memory loss, balance issues, speech problems and cognitive thinking. As a result, she fell numerous times, doesn’t remember the better part of two weeks around late-summer, and people would find her wandering aimlessly at times.
Her family had seen enough and they took her to the ER at UnityPoint Health – Allen Hospital. An MRI soon revealed a tumor on her brain the size of an orange. Understandably, it was putting pressure on the brain and causing swelling.
So, Dr. Nikolay Martirosyan, a neurosurgeon with UnityPoint Health – Allen Hospital, delicately removed the tumor in a four-hour operation, using state-of-art image-guidance and microsurgical technology.
“Image guidance technology is similar to GPS in the car,” explained Dr. Martirosyan. “It allows us to know in real-time which part of the brain we are operating and helps to identify tumor boundaries.
“In addition, we use a microscope and very fine instruments, similar to watchmakers’ tools. That helps to perform very precise surgery and separate tumor from normal brain without damage.”
Surgery went well, and the tumor was removed entirely. With the pressure off Steph’s brain, her symptoms started to improve immediately. Over the next few days she was back to normal, as she regained full balance and cognitive ability, overcame speech issues, and recovered most of her memory.
Now, with life back to normal, she’s active again, and that even includes those precious days when she can throw a football around with her son, Maddox.
Why do tumors like Steph’s develop? It’s unknown, although previous radiation exposure and the female gender may be predisposing factors. At this point, Steph isn’t asking questions. She’s just grateful.
“He saved my life,” Steph says of Dr. Martirosyan. “He pulled an amazing team together for my surgery and just came into my life at the right time and right place.
“Even (fellow neurosurgeon) Dr. Russell Buchanan came in to see me, and (neurosurgery physician’s assistant) Lynn Galloway stopped to see me, because Dr. Buchanan did a couple of my back surgeries, and I had seen Lynn in the office. That was just amazing that they would check on me like that.”
After surgery, Steph had a short stay on the inpatient rehabilitation unit before continuing her outpatient recovery with physical, occupational and speech therapy at UnityPoint Clinic Therapy – North Crossing.
“I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else for anything ever again in my life,” said Steph. “UnityPoint Health is exceptional, and the patient care was just top-notch.”
In addition to the care at UnityPoint Health, Steph can’t say enough about the support she received from her family. Her parents, Ray and Kathy Moore, plus her sisters Becky and Margie (and their families), were with her every step of the way.
In the end, Steph raves about what Dr. Martirosyan and his team did for her.
“He brought me back to the world, allowed my brain to function again,” she said. “He’s just an amazing surgeon, and I felt like I just had this connection with him from the start.”
“We were all relieved to find out her tumor was benign, and the surgery may have cured her,” said Dr. Martirosyan.