Just a few short weeks after her diagnosis, Sara had surgery at Northwell Health’s Lenox Hill Hospital to remove the tumor in her spinal cord. Thankfully, her mom was able to come to New York from the West Coast to help during the recovery process. Adjusting to the temporary mobility restrictions required after surgery was a big challenge to overcome for Sara.
She says, “for someone who has always been independent and active and productive, I suddenly had to make peace with stillness and not being able to do things.”
During this period, her recovery was long, painful and exhausting because of the multiple post-operative infections that she endured. She was looking forward to an easier mode of treatment.
Radiation was always in the cards for Sara’s treatment plan. While conventional radiation sounded scary, Sara’s neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist at Northwell Health agreed that she was a strong candidate for proton therapy.
Sara was then introduced to Dr. Arpit Chhabra at the New York Proton Center and, using his expertise and deep knowledge of treating spinal tumors, he confirmed that proton therapy was the way to go. “Given the potential to achieve long-term cure in Sara’s case with an approach of surgery and radiation, it was imperative that we used a form of radiation that minimized the risk of not only short, but also long-term side effects, in light of her young age and active lifestyle. Since proton therapy dramatically reduces dose to surrounding normal tissues, it is a powerful treatment option to maximize tumor control while minimizing risk of toxicities from radiation therapy.”