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Dr. Baumgartner Removes Teen's Tumor

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Madison Blackmon had enjoyed a healthy and active adolescence until she turned 14 and began to have what she described as anxiety attacks. This former straight A student and three sport athlete began suffering from extreme exhaustion and regularly lost focus during conversation. When this unusual behavior began to affect the Cocoa Beach teen’s daily life, her parents reached out to their primary care doctor, who referred the family to a neurologist.

Madison’s doctor ordered an MRI and located the source of Madison’s changes in behavior – a non-malignant brain tumor was causing Madison to have seizures. The growth was situated near her hippocampus, the part of the brain that manages language and memories, and this positioning made treating Madison’s tumor complex. Despite being non-malignant, the growth was still deadly if left untreated and Dr. Baumgartner described the location of the tumor as “worrisome,” especially for a person as high functioning as Madison.

The Blackmon family describes how they coped with the diagnosis and treatment plan proposed by Dr. Baumgartner. Donald Blackmon describes his feelings of helplessness and despair upon Madison’s initial diagnosis but also his pride in watching Madison grow and handle her diagnosis with maturity. Both he and Madison detail in the inspiring interview how the teen worked adamantly to overcome her fear by learning everything she could about her condition, treatment plan and possible side effects. The most disconcerting risk was the potential for Madison to lose her long-term memory, including memories of loved ones, and it was this risk that worried her younger brother the most. The teen selflessly made a plan to help her brother manage his concerns and after her second and final surgery she recorded a thoughtful video letting him know that she remembered him and just how much she loves him.

Thanks to the impressive collection of over 25 physicians, led by Neurosurgeons for Kids’ Dr. James Baumgartner, Madison returned to school a week after her final surgery and returned to her volleyball team another week later. The seizure free teen was recently accepted to Pittsburgh’s prestigious Carnegie Mellon University.

Watch Madison’s inspiring story and learn about how Dr. Baumgartner conducted brain mapping and still works to actively monitor Madison’s health to ensure the tumor does not return in the Surviving and Thriving video below.

If you or someone you love has a complex brain condition that may require surgery, please request a consultation with one of our expert neurosurgeons online or by phone at 407.236.0006.