Thrive by IU Health

March 05, 2023

Four days after surgery for a brain tumor he was at his sister’s wedding

IU Health Neuroscience Center

Four days after surgery for a brain tumor he was at his sister’s wedding

Looking back, Jordan Williams can think of some signs but his diagnosis was completely unexpected.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, TJ Banes,

He’s never had a broken bone or a cavity. He had annual checkups and never had an indication that he was anything other than healthy.

“I don’t think I’d even been to a hospital except maybe to visit a grandparent,” said Jordan Williams, who turns 35 this month. “There were no red flags on my checkups. This just came about so slowly at a time I was transitioning to a new job that I thought it might be stress related.”

A lifelong Indianapolis resident, Williams graduated from Lawrence Central High School and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from Purdue University.

He had just accepted a job as a project manager with the City of Indianapolis Department of Public Works when he started experiencing some unexplained symptoms. His right leg would fall asleep, so he’d get up and walk to get the blood flowing. Maybe a dozen or so times a day, he’d experience cloudy vision.

In August 2020, Williams married his wife Ellen. They have one son, five months old.

It was his mother-in-law, a retired nurse who encouraged Williams to go for a thorough health check. She was with him when his leg became numb and he wasn’t able to bear weight. He first made an appointment with an optometrist for his blurry vision. That was in July 2022. A followup appointment was scheduled with a neuro-ophthalmologist the next month.

“He looked at my nerves and wrote a letter and said I needed to go to the ER right away for an MRI and CT. He said with an extremely high degree of confidence that it looked like I had a brain tumor,” said Williams. He remembers the day well.

It was the middle of his work day and everything just stopped.

“We had a baby shower scheduled in Chicago that was cancelled. My sister’s wedding was coming up. I didn’t know what to think,” said Williams.

The MRI confirmed he had a grade II meningioma, the most common type of primary brain tumor. It starts in the outer three layers of the protective tissue located between the skull and the brain. The severity is determined by the classification and location.

“It was outside my brain matter and was compressing on my brain in the top left of my skull. I’m told it doesn’t impact as many of the high functioning features as the tumor in the front so I was very fortunate,” said Williams.

On Aug, 23, 2022, in the care of IU Health Dr. Aaron Cohen-Gadol, he went in for a surgery that took about six hours. Williams was told that the team was able to remove 97 percent of the tumor.

“The days that followed were a blur but I was in high spirits and never really felt any pain. The staff at IU Health were tremendous - from the people who cleaned my room to the residents and the surgeons,” said Williams.

As the days progressed into a week, he had one goal - to make it to his sister’s wedding. On August 27 - just four days after brain surgery, Williams walked with a cane, up to the front of the church to do a reading during the ceremony.

“The therapist was impressed by my recovery rate and said that in all good conscience she couldn’t keep me in the hospital,” said Williams.

He and his wife welcomed their son on October 7, and Williams began radiation in November. We joke that we had all these hospital visits under the same calendar year, but the truth is we had such a positive experience with IU Health that we wanted our pediatrician to be in the IU Health Network,” said Williams. Their son was delivered at IU Health North.

After his surgery, and radiation, Williams said his CT scans look good and he hasn’t experienced any cognitive decline.

“I think I’m going to come out stronger and I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Every step of the way could have gone a different direction and this has been a blessing in disguise. I have been able to take a step back, not worry about silly things and refocus at a time that we have become parents,” said Williams.

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