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 Rhabdomyosarcoma: Success Stories

Bryn and Tiffini G., Sterling, VA
How can a parent put into words the overwhelming emotions and gratitude they feel when they find the one surgeon who can save their child's life? When all other doctors tell you that there is no more that can be done, this one man is our beacon of hope. Our son David had a rare form of cancer called Embroynal Rhabdomyosarcoma. It was rare due to the location at the base of his skull.

After our son endured two torturous years of chemotherapy and radiation, the tumor stopped reacting to treatment. The options that were posed to us at the time were barbaric at best, but all we had. One option was to continue the course of chemo; but his body was starting to shut down from the medicine. The second choice was to do nothing; and if the remaining tumor was still viable cells, it would begin to grow. Our final option was to remove the tumor by doing a radical craniotomy. They would take the top of his head off and peel down his face to gain access to the tumor. This was very scary because he had extremely low platelets. We decided to go with the third option after we weighed all the risks. Once ready for surgery, they did one last MRI but decided to try slicing the pictures a different way. This revealed that our son's tumor was wrapped around his carotid artery. The surgery was scrubbed and we were told to take our son home and enjoy the time we had left.

This was devastating news and something we could just not accept. Turning to the internet we came upon the Skull Base Institute. With nothing left to lose we sent them our sons MRI and asked if there was anything they could do.

Dr. Shahinian looked at the scans and contacted us. He was sure he could use his cutting edge minimally invasive endoscopic surgical techniques to get to and remove our son's tumor. A radical craniotomy and years of reconstructive surgery (if he even lived) would not be necessary. Chances of survival went from 5-10% for a radical craniotomy to 90% for this non-invasive endoscopy.

Dr. Shahinian performed the surgery in less than two hours. Our son spent only one night in the hospital. And that was merely for routine observation. He came out of the surgery with a Band-Aid on his nose instead of hundreds of stitches from a craniotomy. The biopsy results showed all of the tissue which Dr. Shahinian removed was necrotic. Chemotherapy stopped shortly afterwards. Dr. Shahinian saved our son's life when no options were available and oncologists had thrown in the towel.

Dr. Shahinian's skills, compassion, and drive to heal are hallmarks of his personality. His ingenious methods have gained him world renowned recognition. But his personality and compassion have also earned him the undying loyalty, respect, and love of his patient's and their families top among them, ours.

You have forever changed our lives and we thank you.

Bryn and Tiffini G.
Sterling, VA

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