Guillermo Vela, a master’s student in the Quiñones lab, sat down with Mr San Roman to hear his story — what brought Mr San Roman to Johns Hopkins all the way from Peru, a country in which he and his incredibly close-knit family have a great deal of pride, and how his life has changed after being treated by Dr. Quiñones for a Grade II Astrocytoma.
GV: I understand you visit us from Peru. Why did you choose to leave the comfort of home, and decide on Johns Hopkins?
MSR: In truth, there were many good reasons. In my country, all the most prestigious doctors who specialized in brain surgery recommended the United States as the best place where advances have been made in the treatment of this kind of case. Fortunately, I was able to count on economic stability, as well as with the support and authorization from the company I work in to take the time I need to for medical leave.
GV: What was your experience at Johns Hopkins like, perhaps compared to other institutions you may have visited?
MSR: I found that the customer service is clearly different, even in comparison with other prestigious institutions of this country. There is excellent communication with the patient and his family during and after.
GV: Dr Quiñones explains to me you had an awake craniotomy. It almost seems like science fiction to talk about having brain surgery while being awake. How would you describe such an experience, and how would you describe your days following this operation?
MSR: In my opinion, the most important thing was to know that I was going to be OK. I knew that anything that could potentially go wrong, I would be able to face it and solve it. In the end, everything went as planned, and that was it. It felt like a miracle in the end.
GV: Has this experience changed you in any way? If so, how, and how do you go about addressing these changes?
MSR: This experience has changed my entire life. It has changed the scale of values and future decisions about my life, and now, I think first in contributing and helping someone else. I have decided to assume the responsibility and take charge of some situations that I didn’t even consider in my life before. For example, I want to surround myself with healthy habits and exercise. I plan to face these changes accepting my new situation, and making sure to improve each day my relations with my family and my close friends.
GV: Dr Quiñones also tells me you have an incredible vigor for life. As a researcher in Dr Quiñones lab, I can tell you that patients like you are a constant reminder and example of valor and determination for us. I was wondering if you could share some final words of advice or encouragement with us, the researchers, as well as with other patients who might be going through similar situations?
MSR: I believe the key in this situation is that the patient has full confidence in the doctor in charge. Additionally, I believe it is important to try to take as much control as one can of the physical and emotional aspects of his or her life in order to have the best and soundest recovery possible.
Learn more about Dr Quinoñes and ongoing research at the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery Brain Tumor Stem Cell Lab.