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Mike Armstrong lost his freshmen year of basketball to a freaky bone cyst. Now the varsity player is back to scoring in the paint.

Michael Armstrong Patient Video

Mike Armstrong Neurosurgery

"I missed my freshmen year of basketball recovering from surgery and doing rehab. I was in a lot of pain for a while, but I work a lot harder for the things I want now." says Mike Armstrong.


MY FAMILY SAT WITH A ROSARY AND FRIENDLY STRANGERS IN THE WAITING ROOM WHILE MY CARE TEAM REMOVED THE TUMOR THAT WAS PARALYZING ME.  

When I was in ninth grade, I started having trouble walking. I fell down the bus steps and had to hold on to the furniture to get around. I missed a week and a half of school. At first I thought it was a pinched nerve, but my mom is a nurse and she knew it was more than that.

She took me to get an MRI on my spine. The doctor came straight from his office to the MRI place while I was still on the table. He said I had a large tumor on my T4 disc in the middle of my back. He told my mom I needed surgery right away, and it was not a job for our local hospital. He sent us to University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System an hour and a half away. We left immediately.

By the time we arrived at UI Hospital, the numbness in my legs was all the way up to my waist. They did a neuro exam by pricking me with a pointy tongue depressor, and I couldn't feel it at all. I had my surgery the next morning.

The tumor turned out to be an aneurismal bone cyst. They took it out and fused my spine with metal rods.

These days life is back to normal. I'm a junior in high school, and I play varsity basketball-did I mention I'm 6-foot-3? Mom says it brings tears to her eyes every time she sees me play.

I don't think I could have gotten better care than what I got at UI Hospital. The nurses were super nice, and they know what they're doing. At my confirmation last year, the ceremony priest asked me who my hero is. I told him my surgeon Dr. Neckrysh at UI Hospital-because he saved my life.