But the Bradley County EMT had two things in his favor — skilled physicians who were the best at what they did and countless prayers being offered on his behalf. Less than six weeks later, Sink looks as healthy as ever and his outlook is positive and life-affirming.
“I actually went into the office the following Thursday after the surgery and got some work done,” Sink said, calling his recovery “amazing.”
“The results are simply amazing when you mix competent medical providers with the power of prayer,” he said.
Sink, the practice administrator with Physicians Services of Cleveland for the past 25 years and a Bradley County EMT for the past 32, decided to go public with his brain tumor in the May 22 Lifestyles section of the Banner.
Detailing every step of the procedure, Sink, 52, disclosed in the June 12 Lifestyles section how doctors measured the growing tumor to be 21 millimeters, — a mega-tumor — which was too big for the space it was in. They indicated the surgery would be difficult due to scar tissue from a previous brain surgery in 2005.
Just days before his surgery, Sink opened up emotionally about his fears and the concerns he had about the stress that his surgery was having on his family as well as on himself in an interview released in a June 19 feature story in Lifestyles.
Banner readers following his story have called to inquire about the latest results, which Sink graciously shared in his fourth and final interview.
“My wife, Nickie, and I arrived at Erlanger hospital around 5 a.m. the morning of June 24,” he said. “We were greeted by a very pleasant and professional staff that walked us through the stages of the surgery.
“Soon, I was readied for the procedure and off to a restful sleep. When I awakened, I was very pleased to reach up and feel all the hair on my head was still there! I was relieved to hear the surgery was a success and there was no need to do the craniotomy that had created an indescribable anxiety!”
Such unexpected good news was more than Sink could have asked for and his thanks went out to God and all those praying on his behalf.
Complimenting the surgeons who performed the multi-hour surgery to remove a second pituitary adenoma, Sink said, “The intensive care staff was wonderful. Their kindness and professionalism extended beyond me as the patient and included my family and friends who visited me.”
His remarkable recovery and brief return to work to do some paperwork at the office the following week were interrupted by a sudden setback when Sink developed a sinus infection. Unlike the everyday sinus infection that most people get, Sink said his sinus infection had “a direct open passageway to his brain.”
“The sinus infection put me down more than the surgery,” he admits. “I spiked an ugly fever and developed deep chills. My skin became ghost pale and sweat drenched my body. An emergency medicine physician at SkyRidge put me on high-dose antibiotics over a two week period that knocked it out. We finally got it resolved.”
Sink met with his neurosurgeon and endocrinologist thereafter and was pleased to hear that his recovery is progressing well despite the infection. On Aug. 3 he met with a radiation oncologist to set up radiation treatment over 28 radiation cycles at Erlanger. The remaining tumor could not be removed as it wraps around two arteries.
Sink said the advances in medicine, surgical tools and procedures have grown by leaps and bounds in the past few decades and he is grateful to be a recipient of such modern medicine.
“Imagine the technology we have today compared to the beginning of my exposure to hospital medicine in the late 1970s,” Sink said. “I have witnessed an incredible amount of growth in the last 30 years of my life working on an ambulance. Cardiac care today is simply a gift from God passed along through skillful minds and hands.
“We are blessed to live today versus anytime in medical history. I and my grandchildren look forward to the continued advancements in medicine that we enjoy every day.”
Going into surgery, Sink’s peripheral vision was blurred by 80 percent. Six weeks later and it is already 100 percent restored, he said.
Sink said he is glad he decided to put a face on this condition that strikes 575 people a day or approximately 210,000 people each year in the U.S. The response to sharing his experience has been overwhelming and appreciated, Sink added.
“It’s amazing! Two things happened last week — someone actually told me they had a condition they were afraid to deal with and my articles helped them through that.
“Then I was in downtown Cleveland and saw some friends. They called me over and said, ‘Talk to this other friend. She’s got the same thing going and she’s scared to death.’ Healthcare has become so secretive — federal laws prevents healthcare providers from talking about healthcare.
“If individuals don’t talk about healthcare and share their experiences publicly then it becomes that ‘secret agent community’ where nobody knows what’s going on unless you have a close friend or relative who shared it with you.
“I think making healthcare issues public allows people to see that it’s not some kind of mystical world but it’s really some kind of world full of Divine intervention and the talents of men.”
Since there are no health guarantees for what tomorrow will bring, Sink said his recent experience is having a profound affect on his life and his future.
“Each of us are required to give — whether it’s giving financially or giving through our stories to help others — each of us have a responsibility to give back to people,” he said.
“I’ve spent 32 years on an ambulance. I hope during that 32 years I’ve had a positive impact on people. I also hope that I can continue to do that. Sharing this story just this week has shown what a positive impact it can have on people.”
For further information about brain tumors, visit the American Brain Tumor Association at www.abta.org.