San Diego

UCSD Medical Student, Aspiring Neurologist Not Letting Brain Tumor Stop Him

Dave Carlson was in his third year of medical school when his life changed.

A local UC San Diego (UCSD) medical student and aspiring neurologist is not letting anything get in the way of his dream -- not even a brain tumor.

Dave Carlson was in his third year of medical school when his life changed.

“I was on the surgery rotation, which is known for being difficult, and I was having these headaches,” Carlson told NBC 7.

The headaches never went away. Then, his vision started to blur.

When Carlson went to get an eye exam, doctors noticed his swollen optic disks. An MRI revealed a large tumor in his brain, deep and dangerously close to his brainstem. 

He was immediately hospitalized and had his first of two brain surgeries a week later. 

“I was okay with it,” Carlson said. “I thought maybe this is an opportunity. I can use my story to help others.”

Carlson had his first surgery on December 7 and a second surgery the following month. The surgeries were followed by six weeks of proton therapy and chemotherapy.

Even in his darkest days, Carlson said, he never lost hope. He believes his experience will be an opportunity to be a better doctor in the future.

“There are a lot of challenges that we all face throughout life,” he said. “but there is a lot of hope too, and I think that hope is useful.”

Dave’s latest MRI shows tumor shrinkage. He still has to have chemo treatments, however, five days each month.

Despite his treatment, he is already back at UCSD Medical School, following his dream of becoming a neurologist.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help him pay for his medical expenses. To donate, click here. 

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