Lakeland Health Care

Patient Stories

Celebrating Survivors

Age Diagnosed
Awake Brain Surgery
Feature Story
Last August, Mitch Cross was a typical 17 year-old, gearing up for another football season at Bridgman High School. But after having a seizure, Mitch underwent an MRI that revealed a tumor in his brain.

Dr. Christian Sikorski of Lake Michigan Neurological Surgery advised Mitch and his parents, Wally and Annette, that surgery as soon as possible was the best option. Because the tumor was located close to the speech center of the brain, Dr. Sikorski explained that Mitch would be awake during parts of the surgery to make sure that his speech would not be affected by removing the tumor.

“Dr. Sikorski told us that Mitch could receive a second opinion in Chicago, but Mitch decided he would have his surgery here,” said Wally. “Looking back from a father’s perspective, Mitch was never scared and kept moving forward, even though it seemed like everything happened so fast.”

The day of the surgery, Dr. Thomas Mattice administered anesthesia to Mitch without a breathing tube. After Dr. Sikorski removed the skull bone over the tumor, Mitch was woken up and his brain was stimulated to see if his speech was disrupted as the tumor was removed.

“It was helpful, because I was able to take out all of the tumor, being more aggressive in some spots and less aggressive in others, because when I stimulated his brain in certain areas, his speech would stop,” said Dr. Sikorski.

Mitch went home the day after the surgery, and he returned to school the next week. Follow-up MRIs showed no regrowth of the tumor, and Mitch has experienced no problems since his surgery. Today, Mitch is looking forward to attending Siena Heights University in the fall, where he received a grant to run track.

“Right now, everything is back to normal,” said Mitch. “I caught up in school, am back to running, and feeling great.”

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