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Brad S Brad's Story

"Monmouth Medical Center’s incredible physicians saved my life, saved my brain and added to the quality of my life, now we want to pay it forward and get involved.”

Brad remembers December 9, 2016 as the day of his operation at Monmouth Medical Center. Leading up to this day, Brad, 52, experienced periods of severe memory loss.

After undergoing sophisticated memory testing, his wife Laurie and their two sons Teddy and Robby knew something was wrong. Brad had gone to his neurologist Dr. Ponce, who ordered an MRI Scan. When the scan revealed a brain tumor, the clinical team at Shrewsbury Diagnostics Imaging recommended going straight to Monmouth Medical Center Emergency Room.Over those next 48 hours Brad had conversations with Dr. Jonathan Lustgarten, Chief of the Neurosurgery Division at Monmouth Medical Center, and his clinical team. Dr. Lustgarten recommended urgent surgery to remove the tumor to make a definite diagnosis, and to relieve pressure and brain swelling. Brad trusted the staff at Monmouth and felt confident in the advice he received. “Dr. Lustgarten assembled a team overnight. He spoke in clear and understandable terms, answering all of my questions and concerns. He calmed me down and gave me the confidence I needed.”

Using state of the art computer-assisted image guidance, the neurosurgical team removed a tumor the size of a lemon from a crucial, functionally important region of Brad’s brain, involving speech and memory. Dr Lustgarten notes that “the critical challenge in cases such as Brad’s is to be surgically aggressive so as to remove the tumor as completely as possible, while placing the highest priority on preserving all neurologic function, allowing the patient to return to full and normal activities”.

A Comprehensive Coordinated Treatment Approach

Once Monmouth’s pathologists determined Brad’s diagnosis, he was told that he would need radiation and chemotherapy. It was important for treatment to begin in a timely fashion . That was when Brad was introduced to Dr. Sang Sim.

Drs. Lustgarten and Sim emphasize that it is essential that brain tumors be treated in an institution with a comprehensive multispecialty approach to these challenging problems. Says Dr. Lustgarten, “For many years MMC has had a dedicated team of specialists focusing and collaborating on treating brain tumors using the most up to date available treatments and protocols. Cases are reviewed regularly in a multidisciplinary tumor board, which was the first of its kind in the region that focuses on Neurooncology. It is a great resource enabling patients to receive sophisticated care, and very importantly, continuity of care, close to home”.

An aggressive treatment protocol was recommended that included a combined radiation and oral chemotherapy regimen for six weeks, followed by 12 cycles of oral chemotherapy over 12 months. Radiation oncologist, Sang Sim, MD, used advanced techniques to directly target the tumor with powerful radiation while sparing healthy brain tissue.

“The radiation was never painful and I was never sickened by the chemotherapy,” said Brad, who continues to work full time as a Senior VP Portfolio Manager. Shu Wang-Radiation Therapist and Shawn Conroy-Paolercio- Radiation Therapist, the radiology technicians (not sure what their job is called) who work with Dr. Sim made Brad very comfortable with the whole process. They became real friends and he looked forward to seeing them daily.

Laurie was with him for every treatment. After each treatment, Laurie and Brad would take a walk on the boardwalk at Pier Village and then stop at Playa Bowls for an afternoon treat.

Now Brad goes for regular scans every 3 months. Brad says “I continue to paddle board as often as possible to stay in shape. Laurie and I also joined the committee for the WhatSUP Paddleboard Race on the Navesink River which directly benefits the hospital”. As Brad says, “Monmouth Medical Center’s incredible physicians saved my life, saved my brain and added to the quality of my life, now we want to pay it forward and get involved.”