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Athletic police officer shocked by brain tumor diagnosis

Ernest Morgan, a university police officer, began his workday like any other. However, everything changed later that morning while he was in the break room with a co-worker. Ernest began having what he thought was a stroke.

“I was feeling something I had never felt before,” he explains.

He called his wife Andrae and told her he was coming home so they could go to the hospital. Andrae and Ernest’s co-workers were shocked when he described his symptoms because he appeared to be as healthy as ever.

The emergency department

When the couple arrived at the hospital, the emergency department (ED) was crowded because it was flu season. Ernest underwent an MRI and X-rays, but because the ED was so busy, he waited a few hours for the results. Feeling frustrated, he decided to ask for a release form.

The physician who treated him heard he was trying to leave and stopped him.

“She showed me the X-rays and there was a little dot on the right side of my brain,” he says.

His diagnosis

The physician said the tests had found a mass and he had been experiencing seizures – not a stroke. Ernest was referred to Howard Chandler, M.D., a neurosurgeon at the Piedmont Brain Tumor Center.

Dr. Chandler told Ernest he would need surgery.

“My mind is thinking, ‘What do you mean they’re going to operate on his brain?’” says Andrae. “I couldn’t wrap myself around it because I’m still looking at this man who is just healthy.”

The surgery

“The surgery took eight hours and when I woke up afterward, I looked up and I saw Drae,” remembers Ernest. “I said, ‘I’m not dead.’”

Ernest felt well enough after the surgery to call his family.

“It kind of makes you think, ‘Did you just have brain surgery?’” says Andrae.

His recovery

“After everything was over, they told me I would be paralyzed on my right side,” says Ernest. “But I’ve always been active and I knew I was ready for the challenge.”

By the time he left the ICU, he was walking on his own.

A team approach to treatment

Ernest underwent radiation therapy five days a week for six weeks. Andrae says Piedmont’s staff made her feel like family and took a team approach to Ernest’s treatment. His medical team included medical oncologist Bill Jonas, M.D., Dr. Chandler and a radiation oncologist , all of whom regularly communicated with one other about Ernest’s treatment.

“I always felt like everyone was in it together,” says Andrae.

Ernest is grateful to be alive and active after surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

“It’s amazing that one day you go from being healthy to being in the hospital having surgery – a major surgery,” says Ernest. “There’s a lot to be thankful for.”

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