Treating her brain tumor with Gamma Knife has allowed Lyne to live life to the fullest
Lyne risked falling into a coma unless the mandarin-sized meningioma in her skull was treated immediately; Gamma Knife radiosurgery helped save her from this fate
In 2007, Lyne was working as an elementary school teacher in her hometown of Winnipeg, in western Canada. She and her husband had two teenage daughters at home. Life was good, and Lyne filled her free time with reading, cooking, gardening, and travel. But she was bothered by occasional headaches that didn’t sit right with her. She mentioned them to her doctor who ordered a CT scan – that changed everything for her overnight.
“He said it was the size of a mandarin and they needed to operate quickly. If it continued growing, it could have put me into a coma.”
“I was told I had a brain tumor and was referred to Dr. Michael West at the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) in Winnipeg. He scheduled an MRI scan and diagnosed me with a meningioma, located at the base of my skull, pushing my cerebellum forward. He said it was the size of a mandarin and they needed to operate quickly. If it continued growing, it could have put me into a coma.”
A meningioma is a slow-growing tumor that forms from the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges. They are most often benign and are usually treatable.
Because of its placement and attachment to veins, the tumor couldn’t be entirely removed with surgery, so Dr. West planned a two-step treatment. First, open surgery was done to cut away as much of the meningioma as possible, followed by Gamma Knife® stereotactic radiosurgery.
Lyne was in good hands using the best technology available. Dr. West, now retired, is credited for playing a central role in acquiring and deploying Canada’s first Gamma Knife system at HSC in 2003. This radiosurgery technique offers precise and non-invasive treatment for brain tumors and neurological disorders. And Gamma Knife has a short recovery time, allowing most people go home the same day, with patients usually resuming their normal activities in a day or so.
“I had never heard of this type of treatment and was apprehensive, but Dr. West had an air of confidence and calm, which helped put me at ease. He explained everything so I understood what would happen and what to expect. I felt positive instead of thinking this would be the end of my life.
“On the day of the procedure, they numbed the area of my head where they then screwed the frame into. I was fearful about having this “halo” fastened to my skull, however it turned out to be fine, and I was actually quite comfortable with the whole process. Once I was secured onto the table, the treatment itself lasted about 40 minutes. A nice thing was that I could listen to one of my favorite albums at the time: ‘All The Roadrunning’ by Mark Knopfler and Emmilou Harris.”
“I’m happy to have not experienced any side effects from the Gamma Knife procedure. Today, I am active and I can do anything I want.”
Lyne says her quality of life since the treatment 16 years ago is great. “I’m happy to have not experienced any side effects from the Gamma Knife procedure. Today, I am active and I can do anything I want.” Consequently, she highly recommends any patient with the same diagnosis as hers to undergo Gamma Knife treatment. “Because ultimately, it resulted in complete neutralization of the tumor. So I don’t have to ever worry about that again nor experience the side effects that the tumor caused me.”
Her experience with the meningioma left Lyne philosophical and appreciative. “Life is short, so I enjoy every day,” she says. “My wish is to enjoy it to the fullest.” Her wishes are being fulfilled as she continues her active lifestyle, hiking, cross-country skiing, and spending time with her growing family, which now includes her daughters and their spouses and a grandchild.
“My family was extremely supportive throughout my illness, treatment and recovery. I am thankful for them as well as the amazing healthcare workers, and especially Dr. West, who took such great care of me. And I am also grateful for the scientists and technicians who made this healing technology possible. One of my biggest wishes is that this Gamma Knife technology could be made available to more people around the world.”
Today, patients in 54 countries have access to Leksell Gamma Knife radiosurgery.