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Jamie Corley

Going the Distance for Independence After a Spinal Tumor

I’m thankful for donors to the Foundation for providing support to the hospital so that patients like me have access to incredible care and incredible doctors.

Jamie Corley was living the dream in 2009. She had just graduated from college and was working in Washington, D.C., as a staffer in the U.S. Congress. She was enjoying her new apartment and her independence. Everything was going right.

But it all changed when a series of events led to the discovery of a tumor on her spine.

A benign meningioma—a type of non-cancerous, slow-growing tumor that develops in the membranes surrounding the spine and brain—was spotted incidentally during an MRI.

The diagnosis was a shock to the healthy 22-year-old.

“I didn’t even have any symptoms,” Jamie says. “I went through what a lot of patients do. I was nervous and worried.”

Jamie didn’t require surgery right away. She had time to consider her treatment options.

She was living in a major U.S. city with a number of excellent medical institutions close by. But after doing her research, she knew Barnes-Jewish Hospital, back in her hometown of St. Louis, was the only place she wanted to go for treatment. The combination of leading-edge expertise and compassionate care was worth traveling the distance.

Facing a spinal tumor at the age of 22 would be scary for anyone, but Jamie knew she was in the best hands with Ralph Dacey Jr., MD, neurosurgeon-in-chief at Barnes-Jewish. Dr. Dacey is internationally renowned for his work on brain aneurysms, brain tumors and other cerebrovascular disorders.

Kindness and Compassion Ease Recovery 

As Jamie faced major surgery, she had many fears and questions but was reassured by the patience and compassion of Dr. Dacey and the entire medical team.

Her five-day recovery in the ICU was made better by the kindness of her nurses. “Your body just went through an intense surgery so it’s not functioning properly,” Jamie says. “You can’t shower and you’re just so uncomfortable. You’re away from all of your creature comforts and routines.”

She laughs as she recalls how her hair looked after laying in the hospital bed for several days. “One day, the nurse comes in and says, ‘Oh honey, we need to do something with your hair.’” The nurse then braided Jamie’s hair— giving her one less thing to worry about and making her recovery more comfortable.

“Everyone I came in contact with at Barnes-Jewish was sincere and compassionate but also very professional and talented,” Jamie says. “As a patient, you can’t ask for a better combination.”

A Fresh Start 

Since Jamie’s surgery, she has a new perspective on life and has been devoting more time to what’s important.

She’s more active than ever, kayaking, hiking and running in her spare time. She also started her own communications company and now splits her time between San Francisco and St. Louis. And she dedicates more time to painting, her longtime passion.

“The surgery really made a difference in my life and I’m so appreciative to Dr. Dacey and Barnes-Jewish,” Jamie says. “I’m also thankful for donors to the Foundation for providing support to the hospital so that patients like me have access to incredible care and incredible doctors.”