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Young girl diagnosed with rare brain tumor is seizure-free after Phoenix operation

PHOENIX — A 12-year-old girl celebrated a year of being seizure-free
Thursday after receiving laser treatment in Phoenix for a rare brain tumor.

Holly Hudson suffered 50 seizures a month due to a rare brain tumor called
hypothalamic hamartoma, also known as “HH.”

Holly traveled to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, where doctors
treated her tumor using unique laser technology last year. She appeared at a
news conference alongside her mother and doctor on Thursday.

“The tumor in my brain caused so many different things,” Holly said. “Math
problems, especially reading comprehension problems and mood and eating
problems. But since Dr. (Peter) Nakaji removed it, I have my first B in math!”

Officials at the Barrow Neurological Institute are hailing the surgery as an
important step in treating the rare tumor.

People are usually born with HH and are most commonly diagnosed during
childhood because that’s when seizures begin to occur, said Carmelle Malkovich,
media relations manager at the Barrow Neurological Institute. However, patients
across the world often get misdiagnosed due to the extreme rarity of it, she

HH is a rare, non-cancerous tumor in the hypothalamus region of the brain which
controls various functions of the body. Symptoms include seizures, hormone
imbalances, cognitive impairment, behavioral problems, and emotional
difficulties, according to the Barrow Neurological Institute website.

The area which the tumor is found could affect functions such as thirst,
hunger, energy, and emotion, said Lisa Soeby, president and co-founder of “Hope
for HH.”

Soeby’s son was diagnosed with HH and has undergone four surgeries to treat it,
before laser treatment was available.

“It’s such a complex spot in the brain, it’s very risky and it’s not a
guarantee,” she said. “Often times you have to go in several times and some patients are
treated once and are seizure-free and don’t have cognitive issues. It’s a

Laser treatments were developed in the last five years when a doctor suggested
that the same treatment used for cancerous brain tumors could be used on
patients suffering from HH, Soeby said.

The Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix is one of the few hospitals across
the country to use the unique laser technology.

“Ten years ago we never envisioned this type of revolutionary brain surgery,”
Malkovich said.

The institute held a news conference Thursday to celebrate Holly being
seizure-free for a year.

Holly has been off all medications since December and hopes to become a
comedian when she grows up.