Nothing Stops the US Mail (or Mail Carrier Elena)—Not Even a Brain Tumor - Virtua Patient Story

Nothing Stops US Mail Carrier Elena—Not Even a Brain Tumor

Elena Wyche, of Camden County, is a mail carrier who spends most of her days on her feet. That's why it was extra scary for her when she got out of bed one night, and her right foot turned in toward her left leg and started shaking uncontrollably.

“The only way I can describe it is that it was something from a scary movie,” Elena explained. “I was thrown to the ground—my leg was shaking so forcefully that I couldn’t stop it. I didn’t know what was going on.”

She woke her husband, and he massaged her leg until it finally stopped. She said her leg felt like it weighed 600 pounds and had worms crawling on it. She knew she had to go to the hospital. What she didn't know at the time was that she had just had a simple seizure in her leg. 

It all started with a migraine

Months before that night, Elena started having migraines and saw a neurologist for treatment. Tests revealed that she had a pea-sized mass in her brain. Three months later, a CT scan showed that the mass had grown. Her neurologist recommended that she schedule an appointment immediately with Penn Medicine | Virtua neurosurgeon Patrick Connolly, MD, who performs surgery at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly.

At Elena's initial appointment, Dr. Connolly went over all of the surgery details—what he would do and what she could expect during and after the surgery. He answered all of her questions and told her to call any time if she had more.

A few months after her first appointment with Dr. Connolly, Elena completed her preadmission testing. It was that night that the swelling, caused by the mass in her brain, hit a nerve causing the simple seizure in her leg.

Elena was transported from the Virtua Voorhees Hospital emergency room to Virtua Memorial Hospital. To remove as much of the tumor as possible, Dr. Connolly used advanced neuro-navigation technology that allows for a safer and more finely focused visualization of the tumor and brain during the operation.

Elena recovered for two days in the Virtua Brain & Spine Institute, located inside Virtua Memorial. Dr. Connolly explained, “Elena had a tumor pressing on the motor area of her brain. We (the Virtua surgical team and I) removed the mass, and she improved quickly.”

In less than 30 days, Elena was walking to her therapy appointments. “Everyone would sayyou can’t walk that far. And I’d say, you can’t expect someone who’s been walking for 17 years to just stop.” And thanks to surgery with Dr. Connolly, she didn’t have to. Today, she is back to delivering the mail and walking miles every day.

Learn more about the Penn Medicine | Virtua Neurosurgery program, or call 1-888-847-8823 to schedule a consultation.

Updated April 4, 2019

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