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A Wait-and-watcher Who Became a Cyberknife Patient
Deb Vellines's story



I was diagnosed on 2/03 at age 62, with a 12 x 7 x 4 mm acoustic neuroma on the right side.  My symptoms were 2 days of severe vertigo about a month apart with other days of light-headedness and feeling a lack of balance, and tinnitus. Follow up MRI's at six-months and one year showed no change.  Hearing remained at 92% word discrimination. After months of research, decided on FSR. HMO took 5 weeks to answer the out-of-state request for treatment.  They said no treatment available right here. During that 5 weeks, balance continued to improve.  Instead of appealing the decision, changed medical plans to be able to go for immediate treatment if necessary. 


I have prayers and Bible verses that are helping me deal with this diagnosis.  They can be found in A Time to Heal with my hope that they help others on their AN journey.

Then in May of 2005 I experienced sudden hearing loss. 12 days of steroids worked to bring my good hearing back.  Even though the dimensions of my tumor did not change, it did puff out a bit. The local doctor told me I need to consider hearing loss a wakeup call and decide on treatment.  It just happened that the AN national conference in Orlando was the next month and I went.  That was a great decision -- so much information!!  Like my husband said, "It's like your small support group meeting on steroids."  

At the conference after talking to lots of patients and listening to all the lectures, I decided on radiation.  If I didn't have my hearing, I would have seriously thought about the one-shot gamma radiation.  I learned at the conference that odds favored hearing preservation with the fractionated radiation.
We were already scheduled to attend a wedding on the west coast in August, so I decided to combine that with a consultation /treatment at Stanford University.  I felt very comfortable there.  Like everyone always told me, "You will know when a doctor & place feel right for you".  I felt good about Dr. Adler because he does surgery and now radiation.  Who better to give me a fair opinion on my treatment?  He told me he can't make absolute guarantees.  It came down to numbers for me and my faith in a God who can handle any odds.
Dr. Adler treated me last August (2005). In February of 2006 I had my 6-month post radiation MRI.  It showed the tumor to be 1 mm smaller and very slight darkening in the center.  I have had some hearing loss 6 months after treatment, but am hopeful it will improve. 

Deb Vellines <dahvellines AT>
March 2006