Oncology and neurosurgery tackle complex brain tumor cases

Convenient location and comprehensive care make treatment journey easier for one of first patients at new Norton Cancer Institute – Brownsboro

Julie Musick is a fan of the “Outlander” novels, whose author Diana Gabaldon incorporates themes of medicine, spirituality, relationships and hope. The author views her fantasy fiction stories as journeys of both body and soul.

In certain ways, Julie, age 41, has found these same themes reflected in her life since being diagnosed with meningioma, a type of tumor that occurs in the head.

With the help of treatment, her body is fighting the tumor above her right eye. Her soul is getting help from her close relationship and trust with her medical specialists.

Julie first met with David A. Sun, M.D., Ph.D., a neurosurgeon with Norton Neuroscience Institute. He explained her care options, which included working with Aaron C. Spalding, M.D., Ph.D., radiation oncologist with Norton Cancer Institute.

Drs. Sun and Spalding join forces to treat benign and malignant brain tumors. This collaboration between Norton Neuroscience Institute and Norton Cancer Institute’s integrated Head, Neck and Skull Base Tumor Program brings together neurosurgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and other specialists to provide comprehensive care focused on each patient’s individual needs. Respect for patients and families drives this team approach.

Julie said she had “tons of questions” for both providers, especially about radiation treatment.

“They answered everything I asked in a straightforward way. This was critical and really gave me a lot of confidence,” she said.

Norton Cancer Institute – Brownsboro

A new facility off Interstate 71 in northeastern Louisville — close to Southern Indiana via the east end bridge and Kentucky counties northeast of Louisville.

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Convenience at Norton Cancer Institute – Brownsboro

Julie holds the distinction of being one of the first patients treated at Norton Cancer Institute – Brownsboro, where she began a sequence of radiation treatments on Nov. 5, 2018.

“The new center’s location is really convenient. It makes it easy for me to come in during a work day,” said Julie, who is an administrative assistant at a nearby health care organization.

Julie’s tumor was diagnosed in July 2017. One specialist thought a common jaw disorder might be the cause of her headaches. That’s when an MRI scan showed the meningioma.

Convenience is particularly important to Julie, who will complete 28 radiation treatments to stop the tumor’s growth.

Few negative effects of radiation treatments yet

Meningioma is a common type of abnormal cell growth that forms in the head. It’s not technically a form of brain cancer  — the growth arises in the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord — yet it can squeeze brain tissue, nerves and vessels. It occurs more often in women than men.

Because meningioma can grow slowly, people can live with it for years and be unaware of it. Even after a growth is detected, it may not require immediate treatment and sometimes can be monitored instead.

So far, Julie has felt few negative effects of the radiation treatments. Still, she understands she may see some skin irritation and may lose her hair. She knows, too, surgery might be recommended down the road.

“I feel good overall and am taking a ‘let’s see’ attitude,” Julie said. “I’ve really lucked out with my providers, so that gives me a lot of hope.”

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