At 46, Allison Middleton began experiencing severe pain on the left side of her face, a condition that drastically affected her daily life.
“I was taking Tylenol and Motrin every four hours, just to get through the day,” Allison recalls.
Initially, her dentist suspected a temporary issue related to a recent dental procedure, but the pain, described by Allison as “an electrical shock from ear to chin,” persisted and worsened.
Following her dentist’s advice, Allison consulted a neurologist outside of the Mercy Health network. An MRI revealed a left trigeminal schwannoma, a type of non-cancerous tumor that develops on the trigeminal nerve, which is a paired nerve that extends along each side of the head to the face. This nerve is responsible for sending sensations from your face to your brain and helps with things like biting and chewing.
“When I first heard the word ‘tumor,’ I was terrified,” Allison says.
She was then referred to a neurosurgeon and a radiation oncologist, who recognized the need for specialized treatment and directed her to Mercy Health for Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery.
“Dr. Patel made sure I was informed of all of my treatment options. I knew Gamma Knife was right for me,” she says.
During the procedure in June of 2023, Allison was comforted by the radiation oncology team’s care.
“The team was very understanding. I was nervous, but they made sure I was comfortable,” she says.
Allison was amazed by the immediate relief after the Gamma Knife procedure.
“I couldn’t believe it. My jaw pain was gone right after the treatment,” she shares.
A follow-up MRI in September confirmed the success of the treatment. Reflecting on her initial fears, Allison admits, “The thought of having a tumor was daunting, but the care I received changed everything.”
Dr. Patel emphasizes the significance of Allison’s case.
“Allison’s schwannoma was a rare, benign tumor. With Gamma Knife, we could target the tumor precisely, minimizing the risk to surrounding nerve tissues,” he explains.
He also highlights the collaborative approach in treating Allison, who was referred from an external health system.
“Working with a different health system was seamless. Our priority was Allison’s well-being, and we achieved that through coordinated care,” Dr. Patel says.