WHEN Yvonne Allen was first treated for a brain tumour in 2005, she had surgery through her skull in a five-hour operation, spent over a week in hospital including a spell in intensive care, and was not allowed to drive for six months.
After her annual MRI scan revealed a second tumour had started to grow, the former Leeds medical secretary became the 100th patient to be treated by Yorkshires latest hi-tech tool in the fight against brain disease a gamma knife.
Less than 24 hours after arriving at the Leeds Gamma Knife Centre for the 60-minute procedure, 68-year-old Yvonne was back at her home in South Cliff, Scarborough even stopping off en route for some shopping!
The £3m gamma knife revolutionises the treatment of a wide range of brain conditions, including cancers. Doctors use 192 beams of gamma radiation to target and destroy abnormalities with pinpoint accuracy, avoiding the need for complex open surgery.
The Leeds Gamma Knife Centre, based in the £250m Bexley Wing at the citys St Jamess University Hospital, has treated both NHS and private patients from across Great Britain and Ireland since it first opened a year ago. Waiting times are minimal and many are treated as outpatients, well enough to go home the same day as the procedure.
The equipment in Leeds is manufactured by Elekta and is known as the Perfexion – the most advanced system in the world – and is one of only four gamma knives operating across the whole of the UK.
We are determined to put Leeds at the forefront of gamma knife technology in the UK, said Kerry Jackson, Chief Executive of Nova Healthcare which runs the service in partnership with the hospital. To mark our first anniversary by treating our 100th patient is an important milestone for us.
Gamma knife technology adds an extra dimension to the treatment options for people with a range of malignant and benign brain diseases and we are delighted to bring it to West Yorkshire for the very first time.
Yvonne was first diagnosed as suffering from a benign meningioma a tumour that affects the linings of the brain when she retired to Scarborough after spending her working life as a secretary and receptionist in health centres at Shadwell and Burmantofts in Leeds.
Her balance had become unsteady and she suffered an increasing number of falls. A scan in 2005 revealed a 2cm tumour pressing against the lining of her brain and she underwent major surgery to remove as much of it as possible.
Doctors monitored her condition through regular scans as there was another tumour at the back of her eye and her most recent check-up revealed Yvonnes worst fear that tumour had almost doubled in size.
Before undergoing the hi-tech procedure, Yvonne was placed in a lightweight head frame to prevent her head from moving during treatment, ensuring the gamma rays are targeted at precisely the right area, and surrounding healthy tissue is protected.
She laid on the gamma knife while Leeds neurosurgeon Mr Stuart Ross worked with radiographers in an adjoining room, speaking to her throughout. Patients are even encouraged to bring their own music in with them.
Yvonne, who is married to Mike, and has a daughter, Dawn, and one grandson, Alexander, said: Had I lived closer, I could have gone home that same day but instead chose to stay overnight at the hospitals own hotel.
I went home to Scarborough the next morning and felt well enough to stop for a spot of shopping on the way home, buying some new shoes!
The whole experience was so completely different to the major surgery I had to remove my first tumour. The gamma knife is a fantastic machine, offering new hope and new treatment options for so many patients.
I am just so pleased that I have been part of its first year of success.
For further information please call Richard Chew, Different PR, on 0845 389 2626