MARNI OConnor Vismor Testimonial hero


Boynton Beach Man Back to Doing What He Loves After Surprise Brain Tumor Diagnosis

Baptist Health Marcus Neuroscience Institute

Dan Vismor has lived in South Florida for more than 30 years and loves being outdoors, whether it was surfing in his younger years, angling for fish on his boat, working in his newly landscaped garden or relaxing by the pool at his lakeside home in Boynton Beach. The athletic 61-year-old has the ruddy complexion of someone who has spent the better part of his life outdoors.


But all those years in the sun caught up with Mr. Vismor seven years ago when he was treated for melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. It was scary, he says. “I had to be rushed into the hospital because of melanoma in my chest,” he recalls. “They were extremely concerned that it was going to make it to the lymph nodes under my arm so they cut it out and then took out the main lymph node. They also took melanoma out of my belly.”


(Watch now: Boynton Beach resident Dan Vismor talks about how it felt to be diagnosed with a brain tumor and to be able to walk out of the hospital three days after his surgery. Video by Alcyene de Almeida Rodrigues.)


At that point, Mr. Vismor says, they thought they had gotten it all. Two year later, however, melanoma was found on Mr. Vismor’s face and he underwent additional surgery to remove a quarter-sized lesion from his nose and near his eye. Fortunately, his vision was not affected.


Mr. Vismor says he continued to see his dermatologist every year – “a few basal cell cancers were removed but no melanoma” – and in 2021 he had a complete physical examination


which showed nothing of concern. Everything seemed to be going okay. But then one day, a curious episode at home rang alarm bells for his wife, Jaclyn.


Something wasn’t right

“One day he was fine, working hard, just like normal. And then that evening he started staring off into space,” Mrs. Vismor recalls. “I remember his son Taylor showing him pictures of something that was pretty emotional and interesting to the family but Dan was just blank. Taylor and I both were thinking something wasn’t right. And then the next morning when Dan woke up, he was still not really making sense – just kind of in the clouds.”


Mrs. Vismor knew her husband needed medical help and she called Taylor at work that morning. She told him there was something wrong with his father and that he was unwilling to go to the emergency room.


“Taylor raced home and we finally convinced him to let us take him to the ER,” she says. “But as we started walking toward the garage, Dan started to teeter-totter and lost his balance, so we had to take him by his arms and help him into the car.”


Mr. Vismor was still coherent but when they got to the emergency room at Bethesda Hospital East, which is just minutes from their home on Lake Ida, things started going downhill.


Blindsided by a brain tumor diagnosis

By the time Mr. Vismor was taken into an examination room some 20 minutes later, he was no longer coherent, according to his wife. “He was saying things that didn’t make sense and he didn’t know where he was,” says Mrs. Vismor. “The nurse kept asking me, ‘Have you seen the doctor?’ and I started getting nervous, like, ‘What’s going on with my husband?’”


Eventually, the nurse came back and told Mrs. Vismor that her husband’s imaging showed he had a large brain tumor and three smaller ones elsewhere in his brain. She was blindsided by the news. “I wasn’t hearing anything at that point – it was going in one ear and out the other. I was in another world,” Mrs. Vismor recalls.


After nearly a week at Bethesda Hospital, Mr. Vismor was transferred to Boca Raton Regional Hospital, where he was seen by neurosurgeon Tim O’Connor, M.D., director of minimally invasive and robotic spine surgery at Marcus Neuroscience Institute. Dr. O’Connor had been consulting with Mr. Vismor’s care team at Bethesda Hospital until he could be moved to Marcus, where the region’s most advanced neurological care is available.


Timothy OConnor MD


Tim O’Connor, M.D., director of minimally invasive and robotic spine surgery at Baptist Health Marcus Neuroscience Institute



“The patient’s imaging demonstrated a very large brain tumor on the right frontal lobe with surrounding phase of genetic edema, as well as several other lesions within the brain itself, coming from likely metastatic melanoma,” notes Dr. O’Connor.


This meant that one of the earlier melanomas had spread to his brain, undetected until now. If he hadn’t experienced confusion and balance issues that prompted his wife and son to rush him to the ER, Dr. O’Connor says there’s no telling how much longer the primary tumor would have gone undiagnosed or the smaller tumors would have continued to grow. Frontal lobe tumors can cause a range of symptoms, he says, including changes in personality; weakness or paralysis on one side of the body; amnesia (loss of memory); aphasia (loss of speech), and impaired cognitive function.


“After reviewing the imaging with Mr. Vismor and his family, we discussed his options,” Dr. O’Connor says. “Given the location of the tumor as well as the current technology available to us, I explained that it was likely he would have a good surgical outcome.”


Faced with the prospect of brain surgery, Mr. Vismor was hesitant at first, terrified that he might not survive. Says his wife, “I took his face in my hands and I said, ‘Of course you are but you have to really fight because this is not going to be easy.’ And then after talking it over with Dr. O’Connor, he decided to proceed.”


Home three days after surgery

During surgery, Dr. O’Connor removed what he describes as a “very large brain tumor.” The surgery went very well, he says, and radiation therapy would be required to treat four smaller lesions that had been identified in other locations of Mr. Vismor’s brain.


Dr. O’Connor says Mr. Vismor made a remarkable recovery after surgery and credits the post-operative care provided at Boca Raton Regional Hospital for his patient’s rapid recovery. “It was remarkable to see the change in him just 24 hours later. He was a completely different person – back to himself again,” Dr. O’Connor says. “He was feeling back to normal and went home within three days of his surgery, and he was back to living his normal life within a week.”


Mr. Vismor’s surgery was followed by 12 rounds of radiation therapy at Baptist Health Lynn Cancer Institute to eradicate the four smaller tumors that imaging had also revealed. Working hand in hand with radiation oncologists there, Dr. O’Connor was able to precisely target those lesions with stereotactic radiosurgery, otherwise known as CyberKnife.  


“The CyberKnife technology gives radiation oncologists the ability to target tumors with pinpoint accuracy, making treatment even more effective,” says Dr. O’Connor. “It also allows the patient to be treated and go home the very same day.”


Today, Dr. O’Connor says, Mr. Vismor is in remission. “He currently has no residual disease from the large tumor I resected, and all of the smaller tumors were effectively treated with stereotactic radiosurgery,” he says. To protect against recurrence, Mr. Vismor is undergoing 12 rounds of immunotherapy – an option that was unavailable to him when he was first diagnosed with melanoma seven years ago.


He recently completed the first of 12 treatments, which are delivered via infusion. “It’s not bad, it takes about 20 minutes,” says Mr. Vismor of his monthly infusion treatments at Lynn Cancer Institute. “It teaches your body to attack the cancer cells if they ever do come back.”


“The most loving, caring people”

Mr. Vismor says he’s back to work full time and feeling great. “As a matter of fact, I was back in the office a week after my surgery. My life is wonderful,” he says, adding that Dr. O’Connor and the staff at Boca Raton Regional Hospital made all the difference in his recovery. “They’re probably the most loving, caring people I’ve ever been with. From the receptionist to the surgeons and everybody in between, they’re on top of the ball and they’re just wonderful, wonderful, wonderful people.”


Jaclyn Vismor is also amazed at how something that could have gone so wrong turned out so well for her husband, and she is grateful for the expert care he received. “Baptist Health being nearby has been everything. The nurses, the facility itself, and the care that we got from Dr. O’Connor and his team was amazing,” Mrs. Vismor says. “They treated us phenomenally – not only medically, but emotionally as well.”


From day one, she says she felt reassured by Dr. O’Connor. “He’s so intelligent and gifted and he has an ability to really empathize with you. He also takes the time to explain everything and to answer all your questions – and I had a lot of questions.”


Mrs. Vismor says she spent a lot of time with her husband in the hospital and could tell that Dr. O’Connor was held in high regard by his colleagues there. “When hospital staff would ask me who Dan’s surgeon was and I told them, they’d all say, ‘Oh, my goodness, you have the absolute best surgeon you could ever have!’ For me, that was such a huge relief.”

Healthcare that Cares

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