Yolanda: Woman of Steel

In Very Good Hands

Until just moments before she was wheeled into surgery to have a small, but ultimately benign brain tumor removed, Yolanda was a woman of steel.

A self-made, successful entrepreneur, seemingly nothing could stop Yolanda. After 25 years of working in the steel industry, the Essex, Maryland native had built her own boutique metals business, succeeding through hard work, knowledge and perseverance in an industry that doesn’t traditionally include women.

But that strength melted briefly when Yolanda’s surgeon, Mercy Medical Center’s Dr. Charles Park, came to see her just before she was wheeled into surgery.

“Dr. Park came in and said, ‘let’s pray,’ noted Yolanda. “I was worried anyway, wondering what was going to happen. I said, to him, ‘is it that bad that we have to pray?”

Actually, saying a prayer is just one of the many ways in which Dr. Park treats his patients with care and compassion. A Board Certified neurosurgeon, Dr. Park is Director of The Minimally Invasive Brain and Spine Center at Mercy, specializing in surgical techniques for the treatment of conditions affecting the brain and spine.  He is also committed to treating each patient with a calm and thoughtful approach to help them understand the best possible outcome of their treatment. And sometimes that means a little prayer.

Yolanda prayed, and her worry dissipated. Not that it was overwhelming anyway. She already knew she was in very good hands. 

Comfortable with Mercy

Yolanda had come to Dr. Park after she started having severe headaches in early 2015. She had initially gone to see her family physician who ordered an MRI. The results showed two separate and severe issues – three herniated discs in her neck, and a mass on her temple. Her doctor told her she needed to see some specialists.

The first issue she would address was the herniated discs. To find a good orthopedic surgeon, Yolanda contacted a friend who happens to work as an administrator at Mercy Medical Center. Her friend recommended Dr. Clayton Dean, a skilled spine surgeon at The Maryland Spine Center at Mercy. In early April Dr. Dean performed successful surgery to insert spacers between the herniated discs. Two days later, the Woman of Steel was back at work.

“I rushed things coming back to work so soon,” she said. “I wasn’t allowed to drive for awhile, so I was having a friend pick me up and take me to work. But not long after that I started having nerve pain down my arm. I knew it was time to address the tumor.”

After another visit with her family doctor, Yolanda made an appointment to see another area neurosurgeon who examined her and told her to come back in three months. “They only tested my reflexes,” Yolanda noted. “I wasn’t comfortable with that diagnosis.”

But she was comfortable with Mercy. 

So once again Yolanda contacted Mercy’s Dr. Dean, asking for a recommendation for a good neurosurgeon. Without hesitation he said Dr. Charles Park.

The First Visit

One of the initial litmus tests Dr. Park immediately passed was the approval of Yolanda’s twin brother John, another resolute member of the family, who is very protective of his sister. “My brother came with me to that first appointment and he approved of him,” she said. “Anyone who gets along with my brother is alright with me.”

On that first visit in late Spring, Dr. Park told Yolanda that the growth on her temple simply didn’t belong there and would have to be surgically removed. But he felt it was non-life threatening, and so at Yolanda’s request he delayed the surgery until the Fall. “I wanted to have the summer off to relax,” she said. “Dr. Park said that would be okay. I really appreciated that. I needed that time.”

Strong as Steel Again

In October, the time finally arrived and she was praying with Dr. Park before what turned out to be a successful minimally invasive four-hour surgery to remove a benign dime-sized tumor from her brain.

“It went extremely well,” she said. “Dr. Park and the whole staff at Mercy were just fantastic. They even pulled my hair back to shave it in such a way that you couldn’t even tell I’d had surgery. It’s that kind of thoughtfulness and consideration that makes Mercy special.”

“What really impressed me was that I was in the hospital for four days and every single day Dr. Park came to my room and really talked to me. He’s down to earth and really makes you feel comfortable in a situation that can be challenging.”

True to her nature, Yolanda was back to work part-time a week after the surgery. Two weeks later she was back full-time, working long days, feeling as strong as steel again.

“The best thing I can say about Mercy is that my husband has a polyp he needs to have removed and he keeps telling me he wants it done at Mercy,” Yolanda noted. “I had a great experience and he saw that. Really, I have nothing negative to say at all about Mercy - the care and attention I received were just excellent. I was really pleased.”

Yolanda's Treatment Team