For more than two decades, Peggy Cardona lived with seizures, sometimes nearly a dozen each month. She’d been to a number of doctors and tried countless medications, but nothing put an end to the seizures. They "affected her ability to process words and formulate sentences," according to CBS-47 in Jacksonville, Florida. "I walked around in a cloud for years," Peggy tells the station.
That changed last year, when Peggy came to Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. An MRI confirmed that a spot on her brain near an area that affects speech was a tumor. She'd had previous scans, but due to the location of the tumor, no one wanted to do surgery. At Mayo, after confirming the tumor's locations, doctors agreed to do surgery thanks to new techniques available to them.
Peggy's care team at Mayo wanted to remove the problem tissue, but they'd need to do so without damaging the part of the brain that controls speech. So they’d use a technique called brain mapping, which would require Peggy to be awake during the operation. Because there are no pain receptors in the brain, she wouldn’t experience any pain.
Not only was Peggy awake during the procedure, she read to her care team. That helped doctors know what tissue was safe to remove, and what tissue controlled functions like speech and needed to be spared. According to the station, the medical team "stimulated areas with a probe near the lesion, and if she stopped talking they knew that area of the brain was still working."
The procedure was a success. "We were able to map out safe areas from areas that cannot be removed," William Tatum, D.O., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic, tells the station.
For Peggy, that has meant a return to a life that had seemed to be slipping away. She "hasn’t had a seizure since February and has regained her speech and independence," reports the station. "Before I had no hope," Peggy says. "I was depressed, confused and lost. And now I can see."
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