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Proud to be from Pittsburgh: UPMC medical student

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A medical student in his first round of clinical at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital is learning under the surgeon who operated on his brain tumor 12 years ago.

Michael Fazzini was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 16 years old and on the track team at Burrell High School.

“You don't understand these things. You hear ‘brain tumor’ and quite frankly, you think ‘Is this the end of my life?’” Fazzini said.

Fazzini admits that he was scared after being diagnosed with a tumor in a part of the brain that makes it difficult to operate on.

It was determined that the Gamma Knife would be the best option for Fazzini.

Gamma Knife is a non-invasive technology that uses X-ray beams to treat a number of things in the brain. UPMC Presbyterian was the first hospital in North America to use the Gamma Knife in 1987.

When Fazzini needed the procedure in 2004, renowned surgeon Dr. Dade Lunsford became the one for the job.

The surgery was successful and Fazzini went back to competing on the track team a week and a half later.

“It’s something I think about almost daily.” Fazzini said.

When it came time for Fazzini to choose his medical school rotations, the first person he wanted to learn from was Lunsford.

“It's very gratifying for physicians and surgeons to be able to have this contact, and to see maybe we stimulated him a little bit to go into the field of medicine,” Lunsford said.

Fazzini has several more clinical rotations before graduating in May.

“I wanted the ability to give back. I could feel what they felt. I could help them in the way I was helped here in Pittsburgh,” Fazzini said.