It was at work one night when coworkers of Chantelle Howell, a UC Health labor and delivery nurse, noticed something wasn’t quite right and became concerned.
“Apparently, I had been repeating myself in patient rooms to the point that a patient called out for the charge nurse to say, ‘I’m worried about your nurse,’” Chantelle said.
Chantelle, who was 42 years old at the time, left work early that night and promised her coworkers she would get an MRI, only in her mind, to prove them wrong. However, it was Chantelle who was wrong. The MRI showed she had a brain tumor that was causing her headaches and forgetfulness.
The astrocytoma, a low-grade glioma, covered a wide surface of Chantelle’s brain, including parts of her brain stem. The tumor could not be removed, but instead required a biopsy to determine the best course of treatment—chemotherapy and radiation.
Traditionally, in order to do the biopsy, a surgeon would need to cut into Chantelle’s scalp and shave part of her head, but Matthew Garrett, MD, PhD, UC Health neurosurgeon and brain tumor specialist and professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, offered her a different approach.
At the time of her diagnosis, Chantelle had long hair that stretched down her back, and Dr. Garrett understood her reluctance for it to be noticeable that she had a brain tumor. Instead, he suggested performing the procedure with a different approach that would spare the majority of her hair.