Naperville Woman Makes Recovery from Brain Tumor | Loyola Medicine
Monday, September 7, 2015

Naperville woman makes full recovery from brain tumor at Loyola Medicine

Loyola Medicine neurosurgeon Vikram Prabhu, MD, working with a team of cancer and neuro experts, successfully removed a brain tumor from patient Beth DeGeeter, left.

MAYWOOD, IL — Beth DeGeeter was understandably terrified when she learned she had a large brain tumor pressing on her brain and spinal cord.

But Loyola University Medical Center neurosurgeon Vikram Prabhu, MD, was able to put her mind at ease.

“He told me I didn’t need to worry about it. He would take care of it and everything would be fine,” Mrs. DeGeeter said. “And I believed him.”

Mrs. DeGeeter’s confidence was well placed. In a complex, staged procedure, Dr. Prabhu and his multidisciplinary team of nurses, residents, anesthesiologists and other clinicians successfully removed the tumor without damaging any surrounding brain tissue.

“I woke up and I was walking and talking and moving,” Mrs. DeGeeter said. She went home a few days after surgery on her 50th birthday and made a full recovery.

“I am exactly the same. Nothing is different from what it was before,” Mrs. DeGeeter said. “I was given another chance of life.”

Mrs. DeGeeter, who lives in Naperville, first noticed something was wrong during a golf tournament. She bent down to pick up a golf ball, and when she tried to stand up straight, she got so dizzy she had to hold on to a golf cart. “It felt like everything was moving and I was moving,” she recalled.

An MRI showed that Mrs. DeGeeter had a benign tumor, called a hemangioblastoma, that was compressing both the spine and cerebellum (the part of the brain at the back of the skull).

The neuro-oncology team at Loyola’s Cardinal Bernadin Cancer Center consists of Edward Melian, MD, Kevin Barton, MD, and Dr. Prabhu. Together they treat hundreds of brain tumor patients each year.  However, Mrs. DeGeeter’s tumor was a unique challenge.

“We had to come up with a very careful, methodical strategy to protect her cerebellum, brainstem and spinal cord, and to remove the tumor without inflicting injury,” Dr. Prabhu said.

Mrs. DeGeeter’s case was discussed during Loyola’s weekly Neuro-oncology Tumor Board meeting, where cancer specialists from neurosurgery, neurology, radiology and pathology review and discuss medical conditions and treatment options and develop an individualized plan of care for each patient. 

Dr. Prabhu enlisted the help of one of his vascular neurosurgery colleagues to reduce the blood supply to the tumor, prior to removing it. The carefully staged operation went smoothly.

Mrs. DeGeeter spent eight days in the hospital. She said she received great care from all the nurses and doctors. “And I can’t say enough about Dr. Prabhu, and his compassion and ability,” Mrs. DeGeeter said. “He’s an amazing doctor.”

Dr. Prabhu trained at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He is used to dealing with complex brain tumors and is very meticulous in his approach. He also values the team around him that helps make the decisions on the optimal approach.

Dr. Prabhu always tries to be aware of how vulnerable patients are when they come to the hospital.

“The hospital environment is not where they want to be or where they belong,” he said. “My bedside manner is predicated by the fact that I have a tremendous respect for the people I care for. I feel grateful they trust my judgment and place their lives in my hands. I am privileged to be able to care for them.”

Dr. Prabhu joined Loyola in 2004 and since then has worked with the same team of nurses and physicians in the neuro-oncology clinic. He is medical director and residency program director of neurological surgery and a professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. He has a joint appointment in the Department of Radiation Oncology.

For nearly a decade, Dr. Prabhu has worked with advanced practice nurse Magan Nielsen, who coordinates the Neuro-Oncology Tumor Board. They employ a caring and conscientious approach to their brain tumor patients.

“Our goal is to keep a patient at the highest level of neurological functioning,” Ms. Nielsen said. “It is very rewarding to get a patient back to their life as quickly as possible."

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.