Mother Daughter Duo Confident in Their Care

Sep 18 2019

Vivien Finnigan and her mother, Ruth Haffner, share a special bond with their similar medical journeys. And thanks to Mercy Health, they were able to receive first-class treatment.

Vivien’s medical story started when she went to see her eye doctor to discuss her recent difficulties with glare. Her doctor recommended she get a neurological check and the check revealed a meningioma.

Meningiomas are tumors that form on meninges, or the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Most of these tumors are benign and grow slowly, making them largely symptomless. It is usually when symptoms develop – typically when the tumor has grown enough to press down on the brain — that a diagnosis occurs.

Vivien was not the first person in her family to be diagnosed with a meningioma. Her mother, Ruth, had a meningioma on the back of her head that grew to the size of a small egg. Doctors had performed surgery to remove Ruth’s initial meningioma. However, she had developed another six tumors in her head and one on her spine over time.

Ronald Warnick, MD, co-director of the Gamma Knife Center at The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health, informed both Vivien and Ruth he could treat their meningiomas with the Gamma Knife.

The Gamma Knife is a technologically advanced tool that provides stereotactic radiosurgery. Despite having “surgery” in the name, stereotactic radiosurgery is an incision free, non-surgical form of radiation therapy. The Gamma Knife uses highly focused beams of gamma rays to target and treat meningiomas and many other conditions of the brain, head or neck. This treatment is painless, requires no incisions, causes minimal damage to healthy tissue, and requires no hospital stay.

Vivien and Ruth were confident in the care Mercy Health’s Brain Tumor Center at The Jewish Hospital could provide. They both had successful Gamma Knife treatments.

“Dr. Warnick is really good at reassuring you and he doesn’t try to hide the truth,” says Vivien. “He was right that Gamma Knife surgery is not that big of a deal when you go through it. When the day came, he was very compassionate. The staff explain everything, and the procedure was just fine. Like my mom says, they’ll even give you a nice breakfast in between and they take really good care of you.”

Ruth also notes that they are fortunate their tumors are not malignant and easily treatable now with the Gamma Knife.

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