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Joe Huerta's Story

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Joe Huerta is a longtime Santa Barbara resident who remembers the shock of learning, at age 66, that he had a potentially life-threatening brain tumor. "I was flabbergasted," he says. "As soon as I picked myself up off the floor, I started looking for the best brain tumor doctor in town—and the best place to be treated."

Joe’s inquiry led him to a highly skilled and experienced brain tumor neurosurgeon, John Park, MD, PhD, medical director of the Brain and Spinal Tumor Program at the Santa Barbara Neuroscience Institute at Cottage Health. Dr. Park told Joe he likely had a meningioma.

"Dr. Park was so confident and positive, I wasn’t worried one bit," Joe recalls. "He was very friendly and explained everything. I felt safe in his hands and was reassured by the fact that removing tumors like mine was his specialty."

Advanced, Minimally Invasive Surgery

Dr. Park led a multidisciplinary team that designed a personalized care plan for Joe and successfully treated him using the latest surgical technology. Dr. Park performed an MRI-guided stereo-tactic brain surgery—a minimally invasive procedure that leads to a quicker recovery.

A computerized imaging system allowed him to determine the exact location of the tumor before making an incision. He made an opening in Joe’s skull, precisely over the tumor, and then carefully removed the abnormal tissue through the incision. A follow-up MRI showed no trace of residual tumor tissue.

“Everyone Was So Friendly & Caring”

Joe Huerta

Only two days after surgery, Joe was able to leave Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. One week after surgery, he and his wife flew to Philadelphia for a well-deserved vacation. The scalp incision from Joe’s surgery is now virtually unnoticeable.

"I’d never spent a night in a hospital before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect at Cottage," Joe says. "But it was like staying in a four-star hotel. The room and the food were excellent. The nurses were very kind. They made me feel like family. They were constantly stopping by to ask if I needed anything. Everyone—from the surgeon who operated on me to the person who cleaned my room—was so friendly and caring. I was ‘Joe’—not just a number."

Jessica's Return to Dance

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