The prospect of having a cancerous tumor removed from my spinal cord was unsettling, to say the least. The most obvious concern, which kept me up for several nights after learning of the tumor, was if I would survive long-term. The next greatest concern was if I could be paralyzed. Finally, I worried that if I survived and wasn’t paralyzed, that my nerves would be permanently damaged for the rest of my life and I would continue to be in the same agonizing pain that I had already been in for the past year and a half.

I was apprehensive going into my first meeting with Dr. Pang. Her unwavering confidence showed from the moment I walked in the door. She proceeded to present an excellent explanation of how the process would unfold and what I could expect. She showed a caring side that I have not seen before from the multiple surgeons I have used for other issues. Her patience with my multitude of questions was very much appreciated.

I am 19 days out of surgery today. I have walked approximately 15 miles. I stopped taking all medications on the 13th day after surgery. I still have minor soreness from the surgery, but the nerve pain is completely gone. Before surgery, every time I coughed or sneezed, the pain was nearly unbearable for several moments. When I cough or sneeze now, I just smile because the pain is completely gone. I am excited for the four-week mark, at which point Dr. Pang told me I can begin light cardio exercise and light weight lifting.

This is amazing to me. Initially, I was told by the physical therapist at the hospital that I would be unable to do either of those things for 5 to 6 months. After asking around, I found that would have been true if standard techniques for the removal of that kind of tumor had been used. Dr. Pang, however, used a far more advanced technique. According to the anesthesiologist used during my surgery, who has been involved in numerous surgeries like mine, Dr. Pang used a technique he had never seen before and was in awe of her abilities.

Dr. Pang arguably saved my life, but there is no doubt she saved my quality of life. I will be able to walk my daughter down the aisle when she gets married. I will be able to play with my grandchildren. I will live a normal life. I will be forever grateful for her.

Ned Matteson

Current patient of The Center, Spinal Cord Tumor