Golisano Children’s Hospital treats 7-year-old with ‘brain tumor’

Reporter: Amy Oshier Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

Doctors told a Naples family that their daughter had a large, cancerous brain tumor. With a pediatric neurosurgery program down the street, she was treated within days.

Seven-year-old Lilah Foss had persistent fever and headaches for a month. Doctors prescribed antibiotics but nothing helped.

“We ended up back at the ER again, saying, ‘Hey, she’s not well, and it got worse. Something is different. The headache is not going away,'” said Matthew Foss, Lilah’s father.

Doctors did a CT scan of her brain and saw a large mass that looked like a golf ball-sized tumor. They said it was likely cancer.

Their first thought was to leave Southwest Florida and get a diagnosis and treatment.

“The attending physician came back in, and he said, ‘If you want to go there, I’ll send you there, but before you do, I think you should know Golisano Children’s Hospital is in Fort Myers. It’s a whole lot closer, and they’re building a great team there,'” said Matthew Foss.

Pediatric neurosurgeon Theodore Spinks, with Golisano Children’s Hospital, however, didn’t see a tumor.

Golisano Children's Hospital
Pediatric Neurosurgeon Theodore Spinks with WINK News Medical Reporter Amy Oshier (CREDIT: WINK News)

“The MRI kind of confirmed that it was an abscess, an infection in her brain, which is not a good thing, but better than their original diagnosis,” said Spinks.

A brain abscess is an infection that generally starts somewhere else and travels to the brain. With no blood supply in the mass, oral antibiotics can’t get in to work, so the ball of infection grows.

“If it ruptures out to be around the brain, then it becomes potentially disastrous,” Spinks said. “It’s not a surgical disease. The treatment is the antibiotics, so my job is to just make sure that the antibiotics can get in and kill the bacteria.”

After six days, Lilah left Golisano Children’s Hospital. She is now a frequent visitor.

“That’s Dr. Spinks. He’s my favorite doctor,” said Lilah.

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