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Doc Talk: Vision check reveals tumor; surgery saves woman's life

Mary Notestine said her vision is coming back and she said she can read the subtitles on her TV again. (WWMT)

Mary Notestine wasn't feeling like herself.

She was constantly tired and couldn't read the subtitles on her TV. She figured a new pair of glasses was necessary, and would certainly cheer her up.

Turns out, that trip to the eye doctor likely saved her life.

“We were scared and nervous but, you know, we put it in God's hands,” said her husband, Raymond Notestine.

The problem wasn’t Mary Notestine’s eyes. It was in her brain. She had a tumor, the size of a small orange, resting on her optic nerves.

“If I let it go, I was going to die,” she said.

Ascension Borgess neurological surgeon, Dr. Hunter Brumblay said the type of tumor she had can be life threatening.

“I think she was moving in that direction and she was declining neurologically,” Brumblay said. “It was starting to become more of an urgency to take this thing out.”

Taking it out meant a meticulous surgery by Brumblay, and 12 hours on the operating table for then 69-year-old Mary Notestine. For Raymond Notestine, it was absolute agony. The two have been married for 46 years.

“We really love each other,” Mary Notestine said.

Surrounded by her husband and family, and after prayers and even goodbyes, Mary Notestine went into surgery.

“Then when I came to ... in the ICU, I was looking around, getting my bearings and there was a figure off to my left side,” Mary Notestine said. “And I looked ... and then she was gone.”

That figure, she said, was featureless, dressed in white from head to toe.

“Now, no halo and no wings. But I could feel her smiling at me, like to say, everything’s fine. I’ve been with you the whole time.”

Could it have been her imagination? Perhaps. But both Mary and Raymond said they believe it was something much more.

Perhaps too it was fate that aided the discovery of the tumor, and that lead Mary Notestine to Ascension Borgess.

“”Like I said, we put it in God's hands,” she said. “And I think that between God and Dr. Brumblay, I couldn't have had a better team.”

The tumor was benign. Mary Notestine's vision is coming back and she said she can read the subtitles on her TV again. She’s also getting that new pair of glasses this week.

“I think we're both lucky, absolutely,” said her husband, Raymond Notestine. “And she's getting back to her old self again. It's amazing.”


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