Joe Feds was a senior in high school when his view of the world began to change in a very unexpected way. Every time he looked to his left, he began to go cross-eyed. "That's when I knew something fishy was going on," Joe recalls.
A visit to an ophthalmologist raised possibilities – a nerve issue? after-effects of a concussion? – but no definitive answer. Joe knew he hadn't banged his head in the last few years. Next came a visit to a neurologist and an MRI.
A week later, Joe and his family had a CD containing dozens of images of his brain. "We could see something was up in there," Joe says. "Later that day they confirmed it was a brain tumor."
Young and resilient, Joe took the news in stride. "At the time, it never seemed real to me," he says. "I never thought anything terrible would happen."
Indeed, nothing terrible did happen. Joe's tumor, about the size of a walnut, was diagnosed as a meningioma, a benign tumor that arises from protective membranes on the surface of the brain. Meningiomas tend to grow inward, and in Joe's case the tumor was creating pressure on the frontal left lobe of his brain, above his eye.
Though benign, the tumor needed to be removed. Joe was referred to Vincent DiNapoli, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon with Mayfield Brain & Spine and Director of the Brain Tumor Center at The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health.
"Dr. DiNapoli was super reassuring," Joe says. "He had this vibe to him that it was no big deal and everything would be 100 percent OK. He just had this confidence that he put out, the way he spoke about everything."
The surgery went flawlessly. Joe's eyesight returned to normal over the next few weeks, and he began his freshman year of college as scheduled. A year later Joe retained a slight numbness on the side of his face from nerve damage, which is expected to disappear over time. And if he purposefully looks really far to the left, he eventually will still go cross-eyed.
Overall, there are no ill effects. "Sometimes I forget that it even happened," Joe says. "That's how far I've come, and that's how good my treatment was."
The experience appears to have influenced his career ambitions. A business major specializing in marketing, he is eyeing a career in sales. "My dream job is to work in medical devices," he says. "After my experience, I have a passion for that field."
~ Cindy Starr
Hope Story Disclaimer -"Joe's Story" is about one patient's health-care experience. Please bear in mind that because every patient is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Results are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.
"Sometimes I forget that it even happened," Joe says. "That's how far I've come, and that's how good my treatment was."
photography by Tad Butler