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Sep 25, 2013 1:44 AM by Sean Mooney

Softball-sized tumor removed with new surgery at UAMC

TUCSON - A new surgeon at University of Arizona Medical Center and the discovery of a massive brain tumor changed the life of a young mother, who'd recently given birth to twins.

Jessica Valenzuela suffered from severe headaches for more than two years. Her doctor's told her they were migraines. But after her twins were born last April the pain became unbearable and the headaches never went away.

On June 30th, Jessica couldn't take the pain any longer and had her husband Alex take her to the emergency room at UAMC.

Jessica said she expected to be told she was suffering from migraines or tension headaches, she was not prepared for what happened next.

"Someone from neurosurgery walked in and said, basically at this point you are being admitted, there is something there, and I looked at him and said, something what, and he said something like a softball tumor in your head", Valenzuela said, "my husband was there with me and we both just looked at each other and broke down crying".

While the diagnosis was devastating, good news soon followed. The massive meningioma tumor in Jessica's head was benign and one of the country's leading neurosurgeons, Dr. Travis Dumont, had just arrived at UAMC.

"Jessica and I had the good fortune of actually meeting on my first day here at the University", Said Dumont, "so it was one of those interesting tales of she wouldn't have been able to get the same surgery or the procedure even the day before."

Because the tumor was a connected mass and not spreading through Jessica's brain Dr. Dumont was able to use a minimally invasive technique to remove it. "With a highly vascularized tumor we can actually go through the blood vessels to eliminate the blood supply to the tumor which then enables the surgery to be much more well tolerated by the patient and the surgeon", said Dumont, "allowing for quicker turnaround after the procedure and much speedier recovery than normal."

But Jessica's recovery surprised them all, back on her feet just two days after the surgery, "They just looked at me and said look at you just wandering around and I said yea, brain surgery no big deal."

Jessica Valenzuela spent a total of five days at UAMC.

Dr. Dumont says he is confident Jessica will make a full recovery, with an almost zero chance of the tumor ever coming back.

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