Natale's story

Sylvia Aiello says the headaches started about four years ago. Her husband Natale would cry out in pain, day and night.

They spent a year in and out of emergency rooms and specialty clinics trying to find out what was wrong. Nothing worked. Then they discovered St. Michael’s.

Today they call Dr. Jennifer Anderson and Dr. Michael Cusimano “miracle workers.” That’s because Dr. Cusimano new the right tests to administer. And these tests led to an accurate diagnosis – an extremely rare chordoma brain tumour that literally invades the spinal column and replaces it with a tumour growth.

“It had gotten so bad that the tumour was actually holding up Natale’s head,” says Sylvia.

Natale underwent three very risky surgeries to remove the tumour. Drs. Anderson and Cusimano worked together to remove the tumour through the nasal cavity, a first-in-the-world procedure. They also did a high-risk spinal fusion operation that, if unsuccessful, Natale would have lost his mobility.

“We are so grateful to Dr. Cusimano and Dr. Anderson who performed a miracle for us. And we’re especially thankful to donors to St. Michael’s – thanks to their generous support, the Hospital had the special equipment they needed to help Natale. In our darkest days, everyone gave us a special gift – hope.”

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