Gerald Sims knew something was amiss when it seemed his brain was slowing down. “It felt like a computer bogged down by a virus,” he remembers. “My thoughts were slower, as were my reading and writing. I was transposing letters when I wrote, making a 'g' and thinking it was a 'd.' I was definitely worried.”
If that wasn’t scary enough, Sims also developed a blind spot on the right side of both eyes. Those were not good signs, and even more alarming because his work as a minister required the ability to read, write and speak well: “It was career-threatening for me.”
A survivor of colon cancer who’d had a PET scan in the spring of 2011 with clean results, Sims first suspected his symptoms might be caused by medication he’d been taking. His family physician recognized the seriousness of his symptoms and referred him to Michigan Neurosurgical Institute. An MRI scan ordered for Sims by Dr. Jackson revealed a brain tumor.
Initially, Dr. Jackson believed Sims’ tumor might be a glioblastoma—a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer. Sims received the news with a stoicism that was testament to his faith. “Life expectancy with that kind of tumor is very short,” he says. “Fortunately, I didn’t have a backlog of regrets or animosity or anger. I just had a kind of peace with things.” Yet, on the other hand, he adds, “I did have reasons to live.
Dr. Jackson recommended surgery to remove the tumor. Sims’ fellow ministers were praying for him. In fact, two days before his surgery, nearly 30 ministers gathered together to pray for Sims, which brought him a sense of peace, as well as a sudden sensation that he would be “surprised by the surgery.” Additionally, 100 church members prayed for him the day before Sims’ surgery.
He was greatly moved, too, by a pre-surgery visit from Dr. Jackson. “I have a very distinct memory of him asking, ‘Pastor, may I pray for you?’” recalled Sims. “We prayed together and he asked the Lord to guide his hands during the operation. It was very much appreciated. His compassion is extraordinary.”
During surgery, Dr. Jackson performed a complete resection (removal) of the cancerous tumor with the aid of three-dimension stereotactic imaging to determine precisely where to operate: “His brain tumor was in a very difficult area.”
Happily, it was not a glioblastoma but a different form of cancer. Sims noticed that both his reading ability and vision were much improved the day after surgery. In fact, with the prescription glasses he normally wears, Sims’ vision is 20/20 in both eyes. He’s been through radiation and chemotherapy with minimal side effects.
“You know, others were urging me to go to Cleveland Clinic or Mayo Clinic,” recalls Sims. “But I never even sought a second opinion because I was having a good experience right here with Michigan Neurosurgical Institute.”