Life-threatening Tumor Removed, Sense of Humor Left Intact
Terry Kucera, 70, retired purchasing agent at Chief Fabrication, said there is only one thing he can’t do after brain surgery.
“My wife’s grounded me from going on the roof.”
Recently, Kucera had a little mishap while sealing the skylight of his house on Kuester Lake in Grand Island, Nebraska. Luckily it was only his shoe that fell to the ground outside his front door. “I pounded on the roof,” he said. “My wife rushed out the door, saw my right moccasin laying there and yelled, ‘Where the heck are you?’”
The incident wasn’t due to Kucera’s brain surgery performed by Joshua Anderson, MD, neurosurgeon based at CHI Health St. Francis, but his right knee which needs to be replaced. “I had the left one replaced in 2017 before my brain surgery,” Kucera said. “I’m not quite ready for another surgery, just yet.”
Eleven years ago Kucera started having headaches. He thought stress was the culprit, but an MRI found a meningioma growing around three main arteries that feed his brain. Doctors kept a close eye on the tumor. Any growth could disrupt blood flow.
“A year and a half ago, I started getting headaches again only these were completely debilitating. So bad I couldn’t function,” he said. The tumor had quadrupled in size and was threatening his life. It had to be removed.
“How the tumor was laying, we knew it was a really dangerous surgery,” Kucera said. “We asked around, everyone I talked to said Dr. Anderson was one of the best. If he couldn’t remove it, no one could.”
Kucera found Dr. Anderson’s confidence comforting and appreciated his candor. “He told me he was going to get it out. He’s a great guy. Real professional, but he lays it all out on the table. What to expect. What could go wrong.”
On July 18th of last year, Dr. Anderson along with neurosurgeon Chinyere Obasi, MD, from Good Samaritan in Kearney, who he called in to assist, undertook the nine-and-a-half-hour surgery.
Dr. Anderson removed 85 to 90 percent of the tumor, all but the part attached to Kucera’s right eye. Leaving his vision, while not 20/20, intact. Kucera’s sense of taste didn’t fare as well, which Dr. Anderson warned could happen.
“It’s a bummer ‘cause my wife is a great cook. Now she tastes my food for me, and tells me if it’s something I’d like,” Kucera jokes. “It’s not all bad. I’ve lost 60 pounds.”
Staples, stitches and a tube to relieve the pressure were all part of the surgical experience. Kucera said he didn’t look so good, but he “woke up and the headache wasn’t there. I was so, so happy!”
Kucera stayed at St. Francis on the fifth floor for another three weeks and two days. “That staff at our hospital are incredible,” he shared. “They were so good checking on me every 40 minutes and Dr. Anderson visited every day.”
Kucera and his wife Roberta appreciated being close to home for the surgery and recovery process. “Roberta could drive back home at night. I had lots of family and friends visit. They even let my dog visit. We’re inseparable. All the support helped me heal.”
According to Kucera, he is doing really well. “I think Dr. Anderson was even surprised at how quickly I’ve recovered,” he said. “I have nothing but good to say about my team of caregivers. And I couldn’t have done it without my wife who handled all my after care at home.”