'I Feel Blessed': Brain Infection Mimicked Tumor Until His Biopsy at Boca Raton Regional Hospital

Jason Mann’s girlfriend knew something wasn’t right when she spoke to him over the phone the morning of April 23. The North Palm Beach resident got in her car and drove 35 minutes to Mr. Mann’s home in Deerfield Beach. When she had to let herself in with his door code because he couldn’t open the door for her and he was struggling to speak, she called 911.

“She asked me questions that I knew the answer to, but I couldn’t speak,” recalled Mr. Mann of that morning. “I remember the ambulance arriving. I remember the drive to Boca Raton Regional Hospital. I remember the doctor greeting me in the emergency room, but I couldn’t talk.”

An MRI of Mr. Mann’s brain revealed what appeared to be a golf ball-sized tumor.

“I just turned 65. I had never even stayed overnight in the hospital until that day,” Mr. Mann said.

Jason Mann and his girlfriend Sherry Shropshire

“Mr. Mann’s MRI showed a large area characteristic of a high-grade glioma,” said Sajeel Chowdhary, M.D., director of medical neuro-oncology at Marcus Neuroscience Institute and director of neuro-oncology at Lynn Cancer Institute, both housed at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health. A glioma is a type of brain tumor that is often cancerous. “High-grade” means it’s aggressive and grows quickly.

Dr. Chowdhary, who is also an associate professor of neurology and neuro-oncology at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, collaborated with Marcus Neuroscience Institute Neurosurgeon Brian Snelling, M.D., and they agreed the tumor would need to be biopsied to determine proper treatment.

On April 26, Mr. Mann underwent a stereotactic biopsy at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. Dr. Snelling made a small incision into his scalp to access the precise area of the brain where imaging studies showed the tumor to be. A needle withdrew some tissue from the suspected tumor to be analyzed by a pathologist.

“To our surprise, the biopsy revealed that Mr. Mann had a local infection – a cerebral abscess,” Dr. Chowdhary said. “That’s a great diagnosis, when we were expecting brain cancer.”

Treatment for Mr. Mann’s infection, which may have resulted from a loose cap on one of his teeth, involved potent antibiotics, delivered intravenously twice a day for six to eight weeks.

“I got to go home on May 2 with only a few staples in my head, an IV in my arm for my twice daily antibiotic treatment, but I got to go home,” Mr. Mann said. “I had hundreds of people praying for me. I feel blessed.”

He praises Dr. Chowdhary and everyone at Boca Raton Regional Hospital with whom he came into contact.

“Everyone who entered my room was exceptional,” he said. “They couldn’t do enough for me. Dr. Chowdhary gave me his cell phone number and encouraged me to call him with any questions or concerns. Who does that?”

Mr. Mann jokes that maybe the employees at Chick-Fil-A, known for their customer service, would do this, but he didn’t expect the hospital staff or doctors to do what he experienced.

“I’ve been doing this for many years,” Dr. Chowdhary admitted, “and I feel it’s important to provide patients with five-star service. I do it for my oncology patients. That’s what I would want. It takes our care to the next level.”

Mr. Mann, who works as the Operations Director of an Oakland Park-based non-profit that helps take care of underserved populations in Broward County, appreciates the care he received in the hospital and continues to receive from Dr. Chowdhary at his follow-up appointments.

“I’m convinced that doctors and nurses choose to work in healthcare because they’re special and they care about people’s health, just like police officers care about protecting people,” he said.

As for his prognosis, Dr. Chowdhary says that with Mr. Mann’s prior excellent health and his response to treatment, which is reducing the infection, he should fully recover without any neurological effects.

Even with his positive prognosis, resulting from advanced diagnostic technology and clinical expertise, Mr. Mann focuses his praise on the care he received from the people. “I tell all my friends if they need a hospital, they must go to Boca Raton Regional Hospital.”    

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