It was the most intense, paralyzing feeling June Jones had ever experienced: a crushing pain that extended from her back, up into her neck, and around the back of her head. The pain would come and go a few times a week. For about six months, she managed the condition by taking over-the-counter medications and lying down in a dark, quiet room until the pain went away.
Then, in October 2017, during one of her episodes, Jones experienced numbness in her feet and hands. It was at that point she became convinced this was more than just a series of painful headaches; something was seriously wrong.
Jones didn’t have to spend any time researching where to turn for help. She had been seeing Jerold Fleishman, MD, chief of Neurology and associate chair of Medicine, at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, since having a stroke in the late 1980s. An MRI was ordered and produced shocking results.
“Dr. Fleishman called me on a Sunday, right after he read my report. He told me there was a tumor on my spine that was causing my pain, and that I would likely need surgery,” says Jones. “I was speechless. But I trusted him and did exactly what he told me to do.”
The tumor was a meningioma, a slow-growing tumor positioned on the brain and spinal cord that is commonly non-cancerous, but capable of causing excruciating pain and, in some cases, paralysis. Reports from the U.S. Central Brain Tumor Registry indicate that approximately 26,000 meningiomas are diagnosed annually, and 90 percent of those cases are in women.
“When I evaluated June, I noted weakness in her hands and hips, her reflexes were very quick, and she was walking awkwardly,” Dr. Fleishman explains. “The signs were all there, and coupled with the pain, it was clear it needed to be addressed quickly. The longer she waited, the less her chance for recovery would be.”
Dr. Fleishman referred Jones to Hatem Abdo, MD, director of Neurosurgical Services at MedStar Franklin Square, who specializes in treatment of pituitary gland tumors, herniated discs, brain tumors, aneurysms, and lumbar spinal stenosis. He presented her with two options: proceed with surgery immediately or monitor the tumor over time to see if it changed or grew.
“I didn’t want to wait and see, especially in light of my family’s history with cancer,” says Jones, whose son passed away from cancer, and whose grandson is currently battling the disease. “As soon as they said the word ‘tumor’ all I knew for sure was that I wanted it out, as soon as possible.”
Jones’ surgery was scheduled for January of this year and it proved successful. The tumor, later confirmed to be non-cancerous, was fully removed, and the intense pain was gone.
“Even though I was nervous to have surgery, it was without a doubt the right decision,” says Jones, who recently celebrated her 76th birthday. “I have peace of mind. My family has peace of mind. And I finally feel good.”
One of Jones’ greatest passions is gardening, a hobby she couldn’t pursue for a long time, based on her health. The life-long Harford County resident is grateful for the care she received, and the fact that it has allowed her to return to her happy place—her flower beds.
“It’s so good to be back in my garden,” she notes. “I feel so great I’m ready to go out dancing!”
To schedule an appointment, please call 443-777-7320.
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9000 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237
Meningioma is the most common type of tumor that forms in the head. It represents about one-third of all primary brain tumors and occurs most frequently in middle-aged women.
The neurology team at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center evaluates all adult neurological disorders that involve the brain and nervous system.