Woman explains what it means to have awake brain surgery and how Taylor Swift songs were a big help

Selena Campione, a 36-year-old mother, underwent brain surgery in which she sang her favorite songs and those of her daughters, by Taylor Swift, to overcome the surgical intervention.

Selena Campione suffered disconcerting and debilitating symptoms for nearly a year before undergoing surgery.

“I've never had any medical problems in my life,” Campione told .com. Last winter, the 36-year-old teacher and mother of two from New Jersey began experiencing tingling and numbness on the right side of her face and body. “Over time, was getting worse”he explained.

After visiting several neurologists, having different blood tests and MRIs, Campione still did not receive a diagnosis. Although doctors detected a slight abnormality in the white matter of his brain, Campione said, it was “nothing that worried them too much.”

In the following months, Campione continued to see specialists and underwent a total of nine MRIs. She was prescribed countless medications for everything from seizures to multiple sclerosis, but nothing helped, she said. “They took me through different paths and treatments, with many unknowns,” she said.

As time went by, his symptoms worsened. “My face was so swollen that it was paralyzed. and I couldn't speak (…), then I couldn't feel anything on the right side of my body, so sometimes I couldn't walk or use the arm on that side,” he said.

This mother of two, who was previously in good health, suffered episodes of hypertension and tachycardia that forced her to go to the hospital on several occasions.

Selena Campione

Finally, a friend referred Campione to Dr. Nitesh Patel, a neurosurgeon-oncologist at the Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

“She's young, she's only 36 and she has these very unusual symptoms, she felt like she was going crazy,” Patel, who is also an associate professor at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, told .com. Patel said he suspected Campione's symptoms were caused by a mass on the left side of her brain, which controls the right side of the body.

“After studying my case, he called me on the phone and mentioned a couple of types of brain tumors that he believed were causing my symptoms,” Campione said.

What came next was a total surprise, he said. Patel advised him to undergo an awake craniotomy, also known as awake brain surgery.

In Camopione's case, the tumor was located near the areas that control speech and movement of the right arm and legPatel explained. “The situation of the brain area around the tumor is really critical,” he added.

Awake brain surgery allows surgeons to “carefully determine what is safe and what is not,” Patel explained. “Before taking irreversible measures, I can stimulate that part of the brain with a small electronic electrical probe and get immediate information,” he said.

Using a technology called Quicktome Connectomics, Patel was able to check Campione's speech ability and other parts of his brain, making sure he didn't damage these areas while removing as much of the tumor as possible.

To do this, Campione would have to be alert and speaking during the intervention. Typically, the patient can answer questions or count, but Patel prefers them to sing.

Singing allows the surgeon to continually monitor the patient's speech, rhythm, cadence and ability to remember words without the pauses or interruptions that occur in normal conversation, he explained. “The good thing about singing is that it covers all that in a fun way”he added.

When Campione was told he would have to sing, he quickly knew what to put on his surgery playlist. “My daughters, 6 and 8 years old, are unconditional Taylor Swift fans, and (her songs) don't stop playing in my house and in the car,” she commented and said that she is also a fan of the artist. Her followers are known as Swifties.

Campione confessed that at first she was “very scared” about the operation, but she knew that singing Taylor Swift songs would comfort her. “She made me think about my daughters and my family. She made me feel like they were in the room with me and that everything was going to be okay,” Campione said.

On January 31, Patel and his team carefully removed the tumor from Campione's brain while she was singing. 22, style and Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, among other hits. “The nurses held my hand and sang with me; “I think a couple of them danced next to me,” she said, adding that she believes she also managed to turn some doctors into Swifties.

“Knowing that my daughters would be singing with me helped me get through the operation,” he stressed.

During an awake craniotomy, medication is injected to numbing the entire area above the eyebrows and behind the ears before opening the skull, Patel explained. Fortunately, the brain has no pain receptors, he noted.

Selena Campione

“I still can't believe I didn't feel anything (…) I think falling and hurting your leg hurts more than that, believe it or not,” Campione said.

The operation was a success and doctors were able to safely remove the benign tumor, called a low-grade glioma, from Campione's brain, Patel said.

Parts of the intervention were recorded, which allowed Campione to later share his concert in the operating room with his daughters. “The eldest (of my daughters) thinks that she could have sung a little better, and the youngest likes to tell her teacher and all of her friends that Taylor Swift was with me in the operating room”, Campione related.

Selena Campione

“At first they were very scared, we all were, but now, when they see the videos, they think it's great,” he said.

Today, seven weeks after the operation, Campione has no symptoms and has stopped taking almost all of the medications he used before. “I'm 100% better than I was, which is incredible, and I couldn't be more grateful to my doctors and the rest of the medical team,” she said.

Apart from routine inspections and controls, Campoine you will be able to resume your normal life and hopes to return to work soon.