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Janice Lipton

Neurosurgeon: Roberto C. Heros, M.D.

Connections Magazine
by Susan G. Lichtman

Throughout her busy, active life, Janice Lipton has focused on preventive health and wellness, always making time for annual checkups and routine diagnostic tests. So when the results of a full body scan showed a benign tumor –a meningioma – growing in her brain, she was stunned.

“I absolutely was in shock,” Lipton says. “Although I was not experiencing any symptoms at all and have enjoyed excellent health, I had asked my doctor to perform a routine body scan, just to rule out any potential problems. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I went home, got on the computer, and tried to learn as much as possible about what I had.”

There are more than 120 different types of brain tumors, according to the Brain Tumor Society, and non-malignant (or benign) brain tumors can be just as difficult to treat as malignant ones. While benign brain tumors do not contain cancer cells, if left untreated, they can press on sensitive areas of the brain producing inflammation and/or swelling and increasing pressurewithin the skull. This compresses other parts of the brain, causing serious or even life-threatening health problems.

Seeking opinions from neurosurgeons at leading healthcare facilities around the country, within a few short weeks Lipton had flown to virtually every corner of the United States and had consulted with five leading neurosurgeons. They all recommended that the tumor be removed.

Ultimately, she ended up choosing Jackson Memorial Hospital and one of the nation’s top neurosurgeons, Roberto C. Heros, M.D., professor, co-chairman and program director of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“I knew as soon as I met Dr. Heros that I wanted him to perform my surgery,” Lipton says. “He was very sensitive and inspired so much confidence with his ‘open door’ attitude. If I had even the slightest question, he urged me to call and made it clear that he and his staff would be there for me.”

“We carefully evaluate each person’s suitability for surgery, taking into account their general health and many other factors,” Dr. Heros explains. “This is where our long-time experience is key.Someone with less experience might operate on a brain tumor and remove more than necessary, leaving the patient with decreased or diminished capacities and lowering their quality of life.

“Here at Jackson, we operate on more brain tumors than any other institution in Florida – close to 100 malignant brain tumors and about 120 benign tumors each year,” he continues. “Our strength – and our uniqueness – lies in the depth and breadth of our faculty, and the wide range of neurological procedures that we perform.”

From the moment she entered Jackson Memorial for her surgery last May, Lipton felt she was in expert hands. “Dr. Heros was there to welcome me, and the anesthesiologists were so wonderful and reassuring,” she says. “I ended up staying in the hospital just two nights. Imagine being ready to go home just two nights after major brain surgery!”

Ten days later, she returned to have her stitches removed. Within one month of her surgery, she was hiking in the mountains in Aspen, Colorado, taking in the spectacular scenery and breathing the clean, mountain air. “When I reached the first peak, I cried like a baby and thanked God for the beauty that I saw and for my ability to experience nature at its best,” she remembers.

Profoundly changed by her experience, Lipton now considers herself a happier, more sensitive person. “Until a life-threatening illness happens to you, you don’t realize how important it is to focus on living each day to the fullest,” she says. “Adversity comes into our lives for a reason. As a philanthropist, it’s easy for me to get caught up in helping others and to lose focus on myself. Now, I deliberately take life more slowly and am happier for it. I’m definitely taking the time to smell the roses instead of just growing them.”

Lipton still emails Dr. Heros on the 22nd of every month to thank him. To say she is grateful is an understatement: “The feelings that I have are indescribable; Dr. Heros gave me back my life.”