A Minnesota professor got quite the health scare during a routine MRI, which showed that what he had assumed were migraine headaches was actually a brain tumor the size of a baseball.

It may be hard to imagine a tumor that size growing without knowing it is there, but Kristian Twombly, a professor at St. Cloud State University, said he has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season now that it has been found.

Twombly told KMSP his passion is music, and his studies were in musical composition. Yet, it is hard to listen with a pounding head.


It was an odd sort of fortune that migraine headaches forced the 37 year old to go in for an MRI earlier this year. Without it, he likely would have permanently lost the ability to play his favorite instruments.

"They called me to the back and told me I was supposed to see a neurosurgeon," he recalled. "I had just enough time to text my girlfriend and tell her that I think I have a brain tumor."

He was right, but he had no idea the surgeon would have to tackle a giant mass that had been growing on the left side of his brain for two decades.

"I'm just a musician, and for me to see that was shocking," he said. "To have something that size -- I can't believe I was walking around with that in my head."

Twombly and his doctor agreed that surgery was the only option. Aided by software and technological advances, highly-trained neurosurgeons like Dr. Gregory Sherr are now able to go in and remove large tumors without doing permanent damage to their patients.

"You've got to make sure that you see the border between brain and tumor," Sherr said. "That's the part that scares the heck out of me when we do one of these."

Now, Twombly said he is doing great. The migraines and numbness he used to feel are now a thing of the past -- and the health scare has given him a new appreciation for the holidays and those he loves.

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