Derrick's story

Derrick Ogawa

Here's to life-saving surgery

Aspiring brewer Derrick Ogawa was being treated for a bad sinus infection. But after a month, the treatments just weren’t working, he was suffering intense headaches and his nose started bleeding. It bled for four days until suddenly there was no airflow at all in his right nostril and his right ear was completely clogged. Derrick’s ear, nose and throat doctor attempted to cauterize his nose, but the bleeding worsened. Finally, in the emergency room, a CT scan showed a giant mass in the right side of his face. An MRI and biopsy followed, which confirmed a cancerous tumor.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Roham Moftakhar performed a complex skull-base surgery with Dr. Adam Wilson, ENT. Dr. Wilson entered the nasal cavity with an endoscope and removed the tumor from the nasal pharynx. Dr. Moftakhar performed a craniotomy to remove the rest of the tumor from the brain.

"Dr. Moftakhar is a fantastic doctor. From day one he has done his best to make me feel comfortable about what he is doing and about my outcomes," said Derrick, adding, "I was done with surgery at 10:30 at night and he was in my ICU room the next day at 6 in the morning. That’s awesome."

The final diagnosis was a rare form of cancer, which originates in the sinus cavities – only a couple hundred cases had ever been diagnosed.

Derrick would have died within four to six weeks without the surgery, but today he is finishing his radiation and chemotherapy treatments and has returned to work. His chances of survival are high and there is no trace of the cancer left in his brain. But Derrick’s story is bittersweet. To survive the cancer, he had to sacrifice his sense of taste and smell. An aspiring brewer, Derrick is learning new ways to enjoy food and drink.

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