Sunset Park

How surgery helped woman survive brain tumor

‘I’ll never, ever take one moment for granted,’ patient says

November 7, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Dr. David Gordon consults with patient Diana Lipari during a follow-up visit. Photo courtesy of NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn
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The brave battle that U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) is waging against brain cancer has put a spotlight on brain tumors in a way that is making millions of Americans pay attention. 

Doctors at NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn are publicly discussing a case involving a Brooklyn woman who survived a brain tumor and continues to thrive under their care.

Dr. David Gordon, director of cranial, vascular, and skull-base neurosurgery at NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn, operated last year on Diana Lipari, 36, after a two-inch tumor was discovered at the base of her skull.

“I’m doing great,” Lipari said in a statement on Monday. “Dr. Gordon saved my life. I’ll never, ever take one moment for granted.”

Lipari still sees Gordon for regular check-ups. “Thankfully, the mass was non-cancerous, which is the best outcome you could hope for. We’ll follow her over the course of several years with regular imaging to ensure continued good health,” Gordon stated.

The first symptom of trouble for Lipari, a former teacher, was a severe headache. 

“I had horrible pain in the back of my neck for about a week and I was not feeling right at all. The pain was waking me up throughout the night,” she stated.

She shockingly became immobilized while taking part in a tutoring session. “All of a sudden I couldn’t move,” she stated.

She was taken to NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn at 150 55th St. in Sunset Park, where the tumor was discovered during radiological tests.

“A tumor was exerting significant pressure on her brainstem,” Gordon said.

The tumor was sitting in a region of the brain called the cerebellum, which controls balance and coordination. That was devastating news for Lipari, who had just started working toward acquiring certification to become a personal trainer, a physically demanding job.

To remove the tumor, Gordon performed a procedure known as a suboccipital craniectomy, which involved a computer guidance system allowing the surgeon to see a picture of Lipari’s brain during the operation. The system also allowed Gordon to carefully monitor the movement of his surgical tools in Lipari’s skull. 

A year later, Lipari is in the process of completing her certification and is on her way to becoming a physical trainer. 

Throughout the process, Gordon worked closely with his colleagues throughout the NYU Langone Health system, including the Department of Neurosurgery and NYU Langone’s Brain Tumor Center. 

NYU Langone has “the best neurosurgeons in the field and our goal is always to improve the lives of our patients while prioritizing their safety,” said Dr. John G. Golfinos, co-director of the Brain Tumor Center and chairman of NYU Langone Health’s Department of Neurosurgery.


For more information about NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn, visit


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