Lynda Joy Offutt
Generally, when doctors tell patients they have a tumor growing on their spine, it’s not welcome news. But when Sky Ridge Medical Center doctors told Lynda Joy Offutt and family that a tumor was crushing the Lone Tree mother’s spinal cord, the Offutts were nearly ecstatic. “My husband was thrilled. My kids were thrilled. I was bawling hysterically, mostly out of relief,” she says.
The family had good reason for the odd reaction. For nine months before the diagnosis, Lynda Joy, 44, an avid runner, had watched her body slowly deteriorate. It started with numbness in her quadriceps, stealing her ability to run, and ended with almost no sensation below her waist, making it increasingly difficult to function.
“She would have ended up in a wheelchair,” says Brent Kimball, MD, the neurosurgeon who removed Lynda Joy’s tumor. Although the tumor was benign, it would have kept growing, he says. “Her spinal cord was already compressed about 95 percent down from its normal size, so it was just being crushed.”
Before the tumor was detected, Lynda Joy had seen numerous doctors and undergone so many tests she had “lost count.” No one had an answer. Finally, a good friend and physician suggested Offutt see Sky Ridge neurologist Beverly Gilder, MD. “She (Dr. Gilder) was the first person to look at me and say: ‘I hear you. There is something wrong, and we will not stop until we know what it is.’ ”
“It was just such a relief first of all to finally have an answer, and then to be told it was fixable.” LYNDA JOY OFFUTT, Sky Ridge Medical Center Patient