Arthur Weinfeld’s vision was in decline. His right eye had become blurry, which made focusing on a sheet of music difficult. At 77, he assumed it was a cataract. With little delay he scheduled an appointment with an ophthalmologist who then agreed that he should have surgery to remove the cataract. After months, however, Arthur’s vision only continued to worsen.
His wife, Judy, also noticed a mood change in her husband. Normally open and warm, he’d grown consistently sarcastic. He couldn’t accept the idea that he was merely healing slowly from cataract surgery.
“If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, you know it’s a duck,” Arthur says. “But guess what, sometimes it’s not a duck. Sometimes it’s something else. “
Convinced something was awry, Arthur pressed for more opinions and was eventually scheduled for an MRI. When the results came, it was a shock. He had not only a meningioma, but the tennis-ball sized mass was also strangling his optic nerve. Worse still, the tumor surrounded his carotid artery.
The danger of the surgery was clearly laid out by Arthur’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Peter Nakaji, of the Barrow Neurological Institute, in their pre-surgical consultation.
“[When operating] we like when the tumor is lifting the carotid artery like an arm laying on a pillow,” said Dr. Nakaji, “but yours is really like an arm in a bucket of sand.“
Surgeries are seldom without risk, and there was a chance that Arthur’s vision wouldn’t improve, or may be lost altogether. But removing the meningioma was integral to his survival. As a father of five, and grandfather of nine children, he and Judy decided to get through this surgery as swiftly as possible.
After twelve hours in the surgical theater, Arthur awoke and met with Dr. Nakaji who, with a smile, said, “Arthur, I got it all.”
During the surgery, Judy and her family coped with the uncertainty and emotionally taxing wait by planning a celebration of life for Arthur upon his release. Once he had made it home, Arthur became an active participant in the planning and then hosted the event, where he both sang a love song he had written for his beloved wife and played his original composition, “Tsunami,” for the 70 well-wishers and supporters, including Dr. Nakaji.
“Two days later [Arthur] had the follow-up diagnosis with Dr. Nakaji,” Judy said, “and he basically said that…he had already done a diagnostic [at the party].”
Since his surgery, Arthur’s vision has improved. He continues to practice yoga, play the Native American flute, and supports his patients as a clinical psychologist. As a positive side effect of the removal of his tumor, he’s found himself more in touch with his emotions and has been an active and joyful participant in the lives of his friends and family.
One of the things that Arthur feels helped most during the ordeal was that he reached out to his friends and family from the beginning, rather than keeping it inside and private. By doing so, his circle of friends, fellow yoga practitioners, and family rallied around him and their love and prayers strengthened his resolve. He also believes that getting involved with the National Brain Tumor Society has been healing for him.
“I invite anyone, whether they have a brain tumor or not, to support the organization and help those of us who are struggling with this illness.”