When Wilmer Morgan, 74, began losing his hearing, he chalked it up to aging. Thinking he might need a hearing aid, he went to his doctor.
"Was I surprised to learn I had a tumor in my ear!" he said. Morgan had an acoustic neuroma, a non-cancerous tumor that develops on a nerve between the brain and inner ear. The slow-growing tumor had advanced beyond the ear canal and was putting pressure on Morgan's brain stem.
That's when Morgan, who lives just north of Beaumont, found his way to the Texas Medical Center and became the first patient treated with St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital's new CyberKnife by St. Luke's radiation oncologist Steve Carpenter, M.D. "The CyberKnife zeros in on the tumor from all angles, delivering multiple beams of high-dose radiation. Each individual beam is not strong enough to cause harm, but the cumulative effect of all the beams creates a very high dose of radiation aimed at the tumor with extreme accuracy. The pinpoint accuracy protects and preserves the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. " Morgan finished his three-dose treatment in three days and was very happy to get back to his normal activities. "As soon as I got home, I was back out in the garden tending to my citrus trees," said Morgan, who grows lemons, limes and navel oranges. Its stories like Wilmer's that remind us how wonderful state-of-the art technology can be and how important it is to our every day lives and loved ones. It means St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital is giving people like Wilmer alternatives to treatment and helping him to hear all the birds that sing to him in his own, home citrus grove.