It was a normal day at the gym for Meagan Doumont when she noticed something different while listening to her workout music.
“I was just at the gym and the songs sounded muffled,” she recalls. “I didn’t think it was a big deal. I didn’t think anything was wrong, I thought I was completely healthy. I just wanted to get through the school semester and deal with it later. But I should have listened to my body.”
About six months later, Meagan, who is a recently graduated nurse, had some tests done and was placed on the waiting list for an MRI.
During the months leading up to her MRI, the 31-year-old lost hearing in her left ear, part of her face went numb and her balance was off. After her MRI, they found an acoustic neuroma, a tumour that develops in the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain.
After a successful 10-hour brain surgery on Valentine’s Day at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), Meagan is now tumour free, but she can no longer hear in her left ear.
“The hard part is that it’s an invisible disability,” she says about her hearing loss. “Sometimes people are talking to me and I don’t know it.”
Her doctors, Dr. Ryojo Akagami and Dr. Brian Westerberg, paid close attention to their patient while she was at VGH.
“Her tumour was very big,” says Dr. Akagami. “Although acoustic neuromas are benign and non-cancerous, they can be a really big problem, pushing on nerves and parts of her brain that could affect her quality of life. Her tumour was pushing on the brain stem which connects the brain to the rest of the body and nerves that control areas of her face, like smiling, as well as her shoulders and swallowing.”
Centre for acoustic neuroma surgery
Dr. Akagami is one of the most experienced surgeons in Canada who removes acoustic neuromas, making VGH the main place in BC where people can have these tumours removed. VGH is the only hospital in BC with the expertise and resources to diagnose and treat all types of brain tumours, including acoustic neuromas, meningiomas, pituitary tumours, chordomas, and gliomas. VGH obtains world class results and outcomes for patients across the province, particularly for the most complex cases.
“They were so amazing,” Meagan says. “Both of them visited me every day—that meant a lot.”
Leaders in neurological care
- VGH is the only place in BC with the expertise and resources to diagnose and treat all types of brain tumours, including acoustic neuromas, gliomas, lymphomas, meningiomas and pituitary tumours.
- With ten skilled neurosurgeons on staff, the Division of Neurosurgery at VGH is one of Canada’s largest programs and the provincial referral centre for complex neurosurgery cases.
- VGH is one of the largest teaching hospitals in Western Canada and an important partner of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.