Thank you, Dr. Sanai

Dr. Sanai - Barrow Brain and Spine

Neurosurgeon Dr. Nader Sanai

Our patients enter Barrow’s doors with a myriad of neurological issues that require varying degrees of treatment and care.  That’s why the Barrow team prides itself on approaching each patient’s care with expertise and compassion.  After receiving top-notch care from our team, one grateful family’s matriarch was able to celebrate her 91st birthday and attend her granddaughter’s college graduation!  Read more below…

 Dear Administrators of St. Joseph’s and Barrow,

I wanted to take a moment to relay our experience with your hospital, staff and facilities.  In the wee hours of February 25th, 2015, my 90-year-old mother was transferred into your facilities for neurological issues that had started the evening before.  I had suspected a stroke, but when the seizures started down her left side before the paramedics arrived and continued developing while in the emergency room, I knew something more serious was happening.

Because I worked for the Sedona Fire District, I requested our ambulance crew handle the transfer to your facility.  They arrived at your emergency room around one in the morning with my mom still seizing and on all kinds of medications.  This is where your facility and Dr. Knievel took over.  My mother spent the next 12 days in Barrow’s 4th floor ICU.  The doctors ran all kinds of tests and found 4 brain tumors that had spread from her lungs.  I was stunned.  I explained my mother still worked as an accountant in Sedona and was not a typical “90 year old” woman.  When they heard she still worked and was tough as nails, they met with their teams to discuss a course of action.  I was so impressed by their “team approach.”

On March 2, Dr. Nader Sanai operated and removed the largest tumor and recommended Gamma Knife Radiation within the next couple weeks.  This was the hardest thing I have ever watched my mother experience.  She was on a ventilator, feeding tube, unconscious, and looking like a vegetable.  She was always the strong one in the family and now she was incoherent and struggling to survive cancer for yet the third time.

Throughout all of this, Barrow’s staff was incredible.  I slept on the little couch/sleeper in her room.  The case worker helped me process the paperwork for FMLA and I never left my mother’s side.  The process is slow with seizures and brain tumors.  There were some that wondered why we had let her go through all of this at her age.  She needed more time.

After almost 2 weeks in the ICU, then a few more days upstairs, they arranged for my mother to go to a skilled nursing facility. She remained there over a month, came home a few days, then we begged for them to take her back again, which they did for awhile.

When she came home in April and then again in May, my brother and I weren’t sure we could survive the care she required.  But with the encouragement of Dr. Sanai, and the weaning off of the seizure medications when the tumors started to shrink, my mother started to come back.  In July, she woke up from her fog and started down the long road of rehabilitation (we had already had in-home therapy, but now she was alert and understanding).  We have had struggles, but we were able to celebrate her 91st birthday in October, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with friends and family and everyday since.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because on Friday, May 13th, my 91-year-old mother will be able to attend her granddaughter’s graduation from the University of Arizona.  Education means everything to my mother.  It’s your belief in her, the skill of your team of doctors,  and ability to see beyond her age that has allowed her to be with us today.

I want to say “THANK YOU” for saving my mother’s life and allowing her this additional time she needed to see things through in her life.  She is doing great!


Nicole L. VanDemark

Request an Appointment

As a Barrow patient, you can feel confident we’ll exhaust every avenue to arrive at a proper diagnosis and treatment plan customized specifically for you. Request an appointment online and our Patient Navigator will guide you through the next steps.

Request an Appointment