Tumor Crushed Veteran's Spine — Not His Spirit
Lyn Dukette has battled a lot of things in his lifetime, and with the help of a Texas Health neurosurgeon, he's persevered yet again.

Lyn Dukette serving in the U.S. ArmyHe maneuvered Army tanks through East Germany in the Cold War era of the 1960s. He battled cancer. He fought a heart attack, and kept moving forward.

Nothing, it seemed, could crush Lyn Dukette's spirit. But a large tumor — a schwannoma, a type of nerve tumor — threatened to bring this veteran's march to a grinding halt.

"I was on two canes and barely walking. Sitting, standing —everything was awful," Dukette said. He was doing anything he could to find relief, even sleeping in a Victorian chair at night to try to find a comfortable position. But nothing was working. Dukette also experienced numbness from the chest down and was beginning to lose function in his leg and also his bladder.

He was not going to take this problem lying down and sought the help of Dr. Cyrus Wong, a neurosurgeon on the medical staff of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, who provided both a diagnosis and a plan of attack. Though Wong had treated many patients who had this particular type of tumor, Dukette's was the largest he had ever seen.

Lyn Dukette"It had gotten so big to where it was destroying the bone around it and crushing the spinal cord. It would have made him paralyzed had it grown any further," Wong said.

At Texas Health Fort Worth, Wong removed the tumor from Dukette's spinal cord by performing a costotransversectomy, an advanced surgical technique involving just one incision in the patient's back. In years past, patients who had this type of tumor might have had a different type of surgery that involved cutting open the chest cavity and ribs. Today, patients find advanced techniques at Texas Health Fort Worth, a destination for high-acuity neuroscience services in Tarrant County and surrounding areas. The hospital's commitment to continuous improvement is coupled with comprehensive patient education, helping result in good outcomes and shortened recovery time for a variety of neurological and neurosurgical diagnoses.

After surgery, Dukette began to see improvement quickly. He regained feeling and function in his body and can now move much faster and smoother than he had in a long time, walking without assistance. While Wong predicts continued improvement, Dukette is just grateful that this battle is won and that he can spend time celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary with his sweetheart, Sandi. They have a lot to celebrate.

"We're planning a couple more trips, and this surgery gave us the opportunity to do that. I'm just so thankful," Dukette said.

Watch his story WFAA-TV.

Find out how Texas Health can help with your back and spine care. Find a physician or dial 214-612-7033 for a physician referral.