COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Why would a young lady fly all the way from the state of Washington to South Carolina for a doctor appointment? She did it after doing a ton of research and finding a doctor here who had the experience needed to meet head-on a rare growth in her brain.
Living life to the fullest is what 27-year-old Amelia Bussell does not take for granted. In 2008, she passed out and when she came to she had a droopy face and had a hard time talking.
"It wasn't until the next day that I actually went to the hospital and had a scan and they confirmed that I had a brain tumor,” said Amelia.
She was diagnosed with a rare, deep-seated brain tumor called a colloid cyst - a bag of cells that secrete fluid and take up space disrupting the internal plumbing system of the brain. There's no medicine or radiation to treat it. Neurosurgeons advised Amelia to just monitor it. Unfortunately, the cyst grew over the years.
"I was starting to have some vision problems, balance issues, and just overall increased headaches and migraines."
Amelia had to find a neurosurgeon capable of doing the procedure. Of the people who have brain tumors, less than two percent have a colloid cyst.
"That really solidified that I needed to go to a specialist, a specialist who had dealt with these even though they are rare, someone who had dealt with them in a significant way, Amelia said."
She did extensive homework and found Dr. Jonathan Engh in Pittsburgh.
"I come from a science background. I did a lot of research on Dr. Engh. I looked at his scientific journals, I looked at recommendations from current and previous patients of his."
Lexington Brain & Spine Institute at Lexington Medical Center later recruited Dr. Engh.
"I've done probably 100 colloid cyst removals which is a lot when you consider how uncommon they are. Now, I have observed many more than that because you don't want to operate on all of them, said Dr. Engh."
On January 31 of this year, Amelia flew from the northwest to the southeast part of our country to go under the knife of Dr. Engh.
"I have a love-hate relationship with these because it is a very stressful surgery but the patients can do extraordinarily well. In fact, they can be cured,” said Dr. Engh.
He went into Amelia's skull at a point that minimized how much he had to part her brain to get to the cyst. The operation was successful.
"I've had so much energy and clarity of mind. I have been able to pick life back up and enjoy it so much more than I did before, said Amelia."
A happy ending for this forensic scientist who in order to continue as a DNA analyst must rely on every fiber of her brain.
Once Dr. Engh was able to make his way through the brain to the colloid cyst, he then sucked out the contents of the cyst which decompressed it into a bag. Because Dr. Engh was able to also take out that bag he considers Amelia cured.