As it worsened, Paul lost muscle mass, temperature sensation and eventually had to use a cane to walk.
I wondered if it was just psychosomatic or if something was actually going on,” says 53-year-old Wichita engineer. “So I started with a spine specialist.”
An MRI revealed a large tumor between his shoulder blades that was putting pressure on his spinal cord, cutting off circulation to his lower extremities.
After doing internet research and consulting friends and social media contacts, he turned to oncologist Pavan Reddy, MD, for help in determining his next steps. After reviewing Paul’s MRI, Dr. Reddy recommended that he undergo surgery to remove the tumor as soon as possible due to its size and location. Pathology revealed it was a diffuse large B-cell lymphoma tumor.
“Even though our healthcare system was, and still is, under the strain of COVID-19, they provided me great care and had a bed ready for me at the hospital,” says Paul, who was admitted to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis that same day.
During a three-hour laminectomy, neurosurgeon Nazih Moufarrij, MD, carefully removed the lymphoma.
“Once I woke up, I had immediately improved motor control of my muscles and the overall feeling in my lower body gradually returned over the next few months,” says Paul, who soon after his return home began the next phase of his recommended treatment plan: Six rounds of chemotherapy at Cancer Center of Kansas, followed by radiation therapy.
For radiation, Paul was referred to Salman Hasan, DO, at Ascension Via Christi’s Cancer Center, which is the only hospital in Kansas with three non-invasive radiation therapy systems for treating tumors and other cancerous and non-cancerous lesions.
“I am a very proactive patient and I like to understand every detail of what is being done to my body,” says Paul. “I must have nearly exhausted Dr. Hasan with all my questions but he was always willing to explain every detail.”
Fortunately, he says, Dr. Hasan was an engineering major before pursuing medicine who took the time to explain in detail the two treatment plans he had prepared for him: One using the Cancer Center’s recently installed Radixact® System and the other using its CyberKnife, the only one in Kansas.
“Dr. Hasan ran tests comparing the two systems and Radixact offered a more conventional, less precise amount of radiation to the area, which I preferred since it was so close to my spinal cord,” says Paul, who appreciated being encouraged by Dr. Hasan to have a voice in his treatment.
Paul began his 23 radiation treatments in May. “You don’t feel a thing,” he says. “You lie still for no more than a few minutes and wait as the machine treats you.”
On June 22, Paul had his last appointment at the Cancer Center. He finished the appointment with a boisterous, lively ringing of the cancer-free bell around the building and out into the parking lot.
Paul’s PET scan at the end of 2021, just 13 months after his diagnosis, revealed no sign of the cancer returning and is back to devoting time to the cat videos that have given him a large YouTube following.
“I learned that you can’t do this alone,” says Paul, who was thankful for the support of loved ones and medical staff he met throughout treatment. “All the doctors, all the nurses were phenomenal, especially under the strain of the pandemic.”
Paul, now a year out from surgery, is thankful for his entire care team, as he expressed in a recent online review.
“Throughout treatment, I met some of the loveliest, most skilled people by and large,” he says. “I would recommend Dr. Hasan because he is detailed, kind, extremely patient and has a wonderful bedside manner.”
To learn more about cancer care at Ascension Via Christi, go to https://www.getascensioncare.com/oncology/kansas/