When Robert Alvarez was diagnosed with a low-grade insular brain tumor in 2013, he decided to hope for the best and postpone treatment.
In Chicago, Robert started a metal band with a few friends. His brain tumor served as the inspiration for the band’s name: Death from Within. Robert had started playing the guitar at age 12, inspired by an eclectic mix of music, ranging from 90s hip-hop to heavy metal.
After a few years, Robert began to notice new symptoms. Robert was having seizures – a common brain tumor symptom – in his sleep. Robert woke up in the hospital, with his dad at his bedside. By then, his mother already knew the next step: MD Anderson.
Because Robert’s tumor was located near the parts of his brain that controlled speech and movement, Prabhu recommended an awake craniotomy. What Prabhu suggested next had never been done before at MD Anderson: he asked Robert if he’d feel comfortable playing his guitar during an awake craniotomy.
The preparation paid off. On the day of Robert’s surgery, everything went according to plan. Prabhu successfully removed 90% of Robert’s tumor, which was confirmed to be a grade II astrocytoma, and left his musical talents intact.
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