As a TV news anchor and reporter, 37-year-old Angie Perez is used to working long hours and hitting the red carpet in stilettos covering entertainment news, plus modeling.
“I’m not one to complain, but once in a while I’d get back pain that I blamed on high heels, being on my feet a lot and exercising too much but it would go away with over the counter pain meds.”
In 2011, while pregnant with her daughter, Angie’s back pain got worse. “I was told that was common but instead of going away after childbirth it got so bad I could barely walk.” Determined to find the cause, Angie ended up in a whirlwind of doctor consultations, even specialists at different medical centers, in and outside of the U.S.
Imaging scans discovered spinal problems including degenerative disc disease and two benign spinal tumors known as Spinal Hemangioma’s but the doctors all had different ideas about what to do, including not to treat. “They told me there was no danger to the spine and that the spinal tumors weren’t doing immediate damage.” Angie was prescribed physical therapy to strengthen her spine and pain medication.
“Nothing worked. Instead I got hives and swollen eyes. I couldn’t go on the air. It was affecting my career. The pain was so bad in my legs that natural childbirth was a walk in the park.”
Angie continued seeing doctors and was wrongly told by one that the spinal tumors were cancerous.
In the meantime, the numbness and weakness in Angie’s legs was getting worse. “I feared permanent nerve damage and ending up in a wheelchair if this went on much longer.”
Doctors finally did surgery placing three titanium rods in Angie’s back to stabilize her spine. She then received treatment with CyberKnife Radiation Therapy to one of the spinal tumors, which was getting bigger. The CyberKnife delivers a high dose of radiation with pinpoint accuracy to the tumor, causing it to shrink, while leaving surrounding tissue unharmed.
“The biggest mistake was not treating me right away. I walked around for six years with numb legs. Sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed and had to crawl to the bathroom.”
“Within 5-months after treatment I was back in 5-inch heels.”
However, a follow up visit discovered Angie’s other spinal tumor was growing dangerously bigger. Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Mark Pomper used CyberKnife again to treat it at the CyberKnife Center of Miami.
Dr. Pomper says, “CyberKnife Radiation Therapy is a great option for spinal tumors because it’s non-invasive and, if possible you should always try non-invasive treatments first.” The CyberKnife’s radiation beams kill tumor cells making it less likely they’ll start growing again. Angie had a very good response to CyberKnife also known as Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy or SBRT.
Dr. Pomper says, “Studies show CyberKnife is often quite successful in achieving complete pain relief. When I saw Angie last, she looked like a different person. She was back on her feet and not having much discomfort. We’re hoping not to see her again.”
Dr. Pomper says if a doctor recommends surgery or other types of radiation for a spinal tumor, get a second opinion because most people aren’t aware of CyberKnife’s capabilities, excellent results and how easy it is for the patient, requiring fewer treatments with no down time.
Angie’s says, “When all hell was breaking loose, I thought this can’t kill me, my life isn’t complete yet. I just wanted to get on with my life and back to work full time.”
“Right now I’m feeling good. I’m walking around airports, carrying luggage and wearing stilletos again.”
“I’m grateful and blessed to have become an American citizen and be treated in this country. If I’d still be in Venezuela, I don’t know where I’d be now.