Patient Story

Dorothy’s story: Says she’s alive today because of the expertise she received


Dorothy Berry’s cancer journey began in January 2019 after she began experiencing seizures and numbness in her left foot. Her primary care physician referred her for a brain MRI at Northside Jasper Imaging. 

The MRI showed a tumor. 

Although she had a family history of cancer (melanoma and uterine cancer), Dorothy said she was “absolutely shocked” by the diagnosis because she exercised, ate healthily and grew a lot of her own vegetables.

“A few years previously, I had retired as an educator, having taught for 35 years. I felt like I was just beginning my second phase of life,” Dorothy said. “When I received my diagnosis, I cried at night feeling my life was over.”

Dorothy was referred to neurosurgeon Dr. Jim Robinson.

“Dr. Robinson was on vacation when I contacted his office. I explained to his physician’s assistant, Kelly, via telephone that I was having seizures and we had no hospital in our county. The closest hospital was a 40-minute drive.”

Kelly sent Dorothy’s scans to Dr. Robinson and consulted with him so she could meet with Dorothy and start her care right away.

Dorothy said everyone she met was very professional, compassionate and friendly, and their teamwork instilled her trust immediately.

When Dorothy met with Dr. Robinson, she said “He was very calm, reserved, and personable and a great listener. ... After meeting with him, we had complete trust in him as a surgeon and we appreciated his personalized approach.

“When you are in his office, you feel that you are his No. 1 priority.”

Dorothy had a craniotomy on Feb. 13, 2019.

“My experience at Northside Hospital in Atlanta was truly wonderful, from consultation to check-in to check-out. Dr. Robinson and Kelly visited me while in the hospital to check my vitals and progress. The nursing staff was absolutely fabulous and checked on me frequently to assure I was comfortable. I really felt as though I received the royal treatment.”

Dorothy’s tumor was diagnosed as melanoma and Dr. Robinson recommended her to medical oncologist Dr. Aaron Alizadeh with Georgia Cancer Specialists.

Dorothy received Gamma Knife radiosurgery at Northside Forsyth on April 4 with Dr. Ed Simon. Dr. Robinson was present for that procedure, too.

She also received 2 ½ years of Keytruda immunotherapy at Georgia Cancer Specialists in Decatur and Northside Cherokee, followed by Avastin® IV treatments at Northside Cherokee. Dr. Alizadeh conferred with Dr. Robinson at every step.

“I continue to have my PET scans and brain MRIs at Northside Cherokee since it is closer to my home,” said Dorothy. “All four Northside Hospital facilities have been marvelous.”

Of her support system, Dorothy said her husband and son were right there with her through everything.

“My husband was there for every doctor visit, scan and treatment.

“My immediate family, relatives, teacher friends, neighbors and my church community were all there for me — sending cards, text messages, emails, gifts, food and lots of prayers.”

Dorothy also utilized online workshops, exercise and cooking classes and other resources from Cancer Support Community Atlanta, affiliated with Northside Hospital Cancer Institute.

And Dorothy stays active with her passions.

She is a Master Gardener and is involved in many community activities where she shares gardening skills. She also loves to read, cook, embroider, hike in the mountains and attend her husband’s musical events.

“I believe family, communication, showing gratitude to all that have helped me endure this journey, becoming involved, sharing your knowledge with others and continuing to be a lifelong learner helps you achieve peace within yourself,” Dorothy said.

Four years later, Dorothy said she is blessed to have been referred to Dr. Robinson.

“He has extended my life, and on each anniversary I give thanks to his neurological expertise, diagnostic skills and his continuous follow-ups of my progress.”

* The health story shared here may portray atypical results of survival for this type of cancer, given its severity and stage. Atypical results are considered surviving a cancer that has less than a 50% five-year survival rate. Patients should consult an expert to discuss specific treatment plans and the possible outcomes before making medical decisions.


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