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The Graham Welsh Story

During college, Graham Welsh frequented the school’s gym year round in order to relieve stress mentally and stay in shape physically. Shortly before graduating in 2008 with a degree in Real Estate Finance, Graham purchased a road bike; riding almost every day in and around Atlanta averaging 200 miles per week most weeks. Fast forward eighteen months. Graham now 24 years old, was working on a promising career in commercial real estate. The fast pace of the profession thoroughly appealed to him, not to mention the independent lifestyle that accompanied it. Graham continued to enjoy his road bike, even preparing to join the local racing circuit.


January 2010, Graham assumed the soreness he was experiencing around his ribcage was due to lack of stretching prior to his morning bike ride. However, less than one week later, what started as muscle soreness and tingling in his trunk had progressed to difficulty walking and now Graham was unable to move his lower extremities.

Soon after being rushed to Piedmont Hospital, Graham underwent an MRI; the results of which Graham reports would change his life forever. Graham was informed by neurologist Dr. Douglas Stuart that a growth had been discovered in his spinal cord. Feelings of fear, uncertainty and concern for his friends and family all raced through Graham’s head as he considered what his future may hold.

The following day Graham Welsh and his family met Piedmont Spine Center neurosurgeon Dr. Roger Frankel for the first time. Within 48 hours of being told he had a spinal cord tumor, Graham underwent a thoracic laminectomy with microscopic removal of the tumor; the use of a microscope enabled removal of tumor tissue while saving surrounding healthy tissue. Graham was diagnosed with an intradural intramedullary spinal cord tumor, which according to Dr. Roger Frankel is the least common type of spinal tumor.

Postoperatively, Graham was carefully monitored at Piedmont Hospital in case of a cerebral spinal fluid leak or the development of any neurological changes. Dr. Frankel would soon provide Graham and his family with additional news; the spinal cord tumor was benign or non-cancerous. A few days after surgery, Graham was transferred to Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta to continue intensive rehabilitation. During the next four months, Graham worked hours each day re-learning basic skills; performing activities of daily living such as dressing and bathing, and staying focused on regaining the ability to walk. Despite the pain, emotional challenges and rehabilitation that would leave him physically drained, Graham remained motivated, pushing his body further than he ever thought possible.

The weekend of September 11th, 2010 Graham Welsh rode 165 miles on his bike – something he thought would be impossible 8 months earlier. Graham now appreciates the small pleasures of life and “everything that it possibly has in store for me”. Less than nine months after undergoing surgery to remove a spinal cord tumor, Graham walked into the Piedmont Spine Center to discuss his experience and Dr. Roger Frankel.

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