Invasive Surgery is a Success

By, Jakki Marks

East Hanover, NJ – Ken Marks, 52, was living a seemingly normal life; two kids away at school, a successful job in the city. Except one thing in his life was differen; Ken had a brain tumor. What started out as a ringing in his left ear, a feeling one might experience after a concert, turned out to be a tumor that had formed in his head.

After six months of the constant ringing in his ear, Ken’s doctor recommended he go for an MRI. Ken was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, which is a benign tumor on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain.

There were a few options Ken was given for his tumor. He could get radiation, a nonsurgical procedure recommended for small or benign tumors. He could also go under the knife in surgery. Lastly, Ken was given the option to not do anything and see if the tumor progressed.

“After doing my research and reviewing the results of others, I saw great risk with either radiation or surgery.” Ken says. “It seemed to me that my quality of life was the most important thing.”

Ken decided to leave the tumor alone for the time being. He feared that the surgery would result in a total loss of hearing of his left ear or possible facial nerve damage. He continued to go for MRI’s every six months to check on the tumor’s growth. After a year passed, the ringing grew louder, and he started hearing a “crackling” noise. This was the point when he decided to go through with the surgery.

The procedure Ken chose was called Middle Fossa, which offered the best opportunity of saving his hearing. Derald Brackmann, the surgeon who developed this procedure, was located in Los Angeles, California. Breckmann had the most experience performing the surgery and was clearly the best candidate for the job.

When Ken arrived in California, his doctors assured him that there was a good chance his hearing would be saved. Ken went into surgery with anxious feelings, and awoke six hours later in what he described as “surprisingly little pain”. After spending only a day in ICU, he was moved to a private room, and a day and a half later he was checking out of the hospital.

“I was extremely impressed with the professionalism and experience of the doctors and nurses.” Ken raves, post-op. “Emotionally, I could not have envisioned a better scenario”.

The only recovery issue Ken dealt with was minimal; his balance was a little off because they had cut his nerve on the left side. After spending some recovery time in California, he ready to go back to New Jersey. Ken was back on his feet and driving the day after he arrived home, and was back at work the following week. He took nothing stronger than Advil for the minimal pain he experienced.

It has now been six weeks since the surgery, and Ken is back to his normal routine, including going to work and the gym. When reflecting on the experience, Ken says, “(the experience) was intellectually a major event in my life. I have not been ‘scarred’ by this event and I have my doctors to thank for that.  Lastly, the experience does expose the mortality of our lives and how we should be thankful for all we have.”

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Home for the Holidays

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Live Election Blogging

This week, the world of Maryland politics has been busier than ever. It’s election time, and candidates have been going wild trying to promote their names, as well as attract as much of an audience as they can.

Residents of Towson, MD may have noticed a number of people standing in the streets, with big signs of candidate’s names. Especially around the Towson University campus, there have been all type of people who are hired to hold up signs and wave to people, in hopes of influencing their votes in the election and getting them to vote for their chosen component.

Beyond this, there are signs and names marked on every corner of the campus. I even recently came across a “David Marks”, which also happens to be the name of my brother. Although these names, generally don’t mean much to me, as I am a citizen of New Jersey, Marylanders everywhere are getting very competitive in their voting views, hoping that their choice wins.

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Victim of Scolisis Tells Her Story


Joana Pizzirusso, 20, is a Junior and full-time student at Towson University. Although she lives a normal life at school, with a lot of friends and good grades, Joana has suffered from Scoliosis since she was a little girl.

“I remember the first time I heard what Scoliosis was. I was six-years-old, I was playing with my Barbie dolls in my basement and my mom realized that one side of my back was higher than the other.”

Instead of going to school that day, Joana’s mom immediately rushed her to the doctor. This very day, the young Joana was diagnosed with Scoliosis. Scoliosis is defined as the curving of the spine, where it generally curves to the side rather than straight up the middle. Scoliosis can start at birth or can form because of poor muscle control or muscle weakness.

“Ever since then, I’ve been going to doctors in New York City every six months for check-ups. When I was about 12-years-old, I got fitted for a back brace and had to wear it at night. It was so painful, my doctor wanted me to wear it at all times but I refused.”

Joana’s doctors discovered she had an “S” curve in her back, meaning that both her upper and lower back had curves in them. Therefore, she had to get back surgery at 16-years-old.

“My recovery time was three and a half months even though they told us it’d be a lot less. I got 13 screws and two rods fused on my spine.”

The surgery was encouraged by her doctors for when she has kids and for her overall future health. Although the surgery was succesful, Joana claims she suffers from more pain than she did before the surgery, because the metal affects her back with the weather.

“My spine could’ve gotten so crooked that it could’ve effected my organs at one point.”

Joana knows she made the right decision by getting the surgery. Although she still suffers from minor pains in her back, she loves life and embraces everyday as though it is her last. Going through intense surgery such as this makes you understand how valuable your health is, and Joana encourages people to take whatever steps necessary to be the healthiest they can be.

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Homecoming Week at TU

This past week, Homecoming has taken over Towson University, with a variety of events everyday and the Homecoming football game on Saturday.

The Homecoming pep rally took place on Friday, October 29th at Johnny Unitas Stadium at 4:30 p.m. This was the first pep rally TU has ever hosted and was a huge success.

On Saturday, Towson students gathered in the parking lots of Towson Center to begin tailgating for the game. Students were out as early as 9 a.m. and the tailgate ended around 4 p.m. Fraternities such as Sigma Pi, TKE, and PKE blasted music and provided beverages, while students danced and celebrated their school. Positive energy flowed throughout the air and everyone’s TU spirit was reflected in their wardrobes and accessories. Hopes were high for the team, but regardless of the outcome everyone who attended was prepared for a good day.

As hundreds of eager Towson students cheered, the football players worked their hardest to take victory in the game. Unfortunately, it was the University of Rhode Island who had the last laugh, winning the game with a final score of 30-20.

Strong efforts were notably made by junior quarterback Chris Hart, freshman linebacker Kyle Polk, and defensive back Justin Harris. Kyle Polk has recently been given the title of Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week, for his great efforts during the game. As only a first year freshman, Polk had showed tremendous efforts for the Tigers and contributed a great amount of encouragement to his fellow teammates. During the homecoming game, Polk performed 13 tackles and broke up a pass. He continues to outshine many of the older players, as the only first-year freshman who starts for the Tigers and sixth place on the team.

As the Tigers are finishing off the season, hopes are high and enthusiasm is encouraged more than ever. As long as students of TU continue to attend games and show positive energy, the players will continue their heroic efforts to do well this season.

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Q&A with Associate Professor of Acting & Directing, Diane Sadak

Diane Sadak, Associate Professor of Acting & Directing at Towson University, has brought a lot of interesting and exciting ideas to the theater and performing arts programs. She teaches all different courses, from basics like Acting I to Japanese movement and advanced voice & acting courses. She has also created several classes, including one which focuses on Buddhism. Every year, she directs at least one of the four live main stage programs. She has a long history in the acting & directing industries. Diane is an essential part of the live programs featured at TU, as well as the many classes featured in the theater department.

Q: How did you get to where you are today? Where have you traveled for your career?

A: I spent almost six years in San Diego and worked as both an actor and director. I was an associate artist with the California Young Playwrights Project. I then traveled internationally; I went to South Korea for a year with my husband and we taught at a national conservatory there. Even though we were offered fulltime positions in Korea, we decided we wanted to be home. After that experience in Korea it was easy for me to get a faculty position, because you have to have something about you in your career that stands out from the pack.

Q: What challenges have you faced while working up to this position?

A: The amount of work you put into it does not necessarily equal what you’re going to get out of it. Very talented people can never get a break and people with very minimal talent and a look can get way ahead. When I was in San Diego I had to balance working temp jobs while doing professional theater because it just wasn’t paying enough, it took a long time. Life in the arts is a patchwork kind of life. This job gives me enormous security, not a lot of money, but security and time. That’s what I appreciate about being a professor, there’s flexibility in my schedule to do performance work if I want to.

Q: Tell me about some of the plays you’ve been in. Which was your favorite and did any have a specific effect on you?

A: I’ve done a little bit of Shakespeare, plenty of modern and contemporary plays and musicals. Juanita Rockwell, a faculty member here and very successful playwright; we created a piece a number of years ago called “A Cave in the Sky”. One of my favorite roles was Janis Joplin in an original piece called “Legends”.  It was three women: Janis, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. I had never sung rock ‘n’ roll before, and it was one of the most challenging and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I sang about seven or eight of her numbers each night. Our younger lives and relationship to our families were very similar. I also did a piece when I was 21 years old called “I Am A Woman”, which is a two and a half hour, one-woman show where I played 36 different characters. That remains a turning point in my life as well.

Q: Do you have any advice for future aspiring actors, directors, or professors?

A: If acting or directing is truly your passion, be prepared to work very hard. I think it’s really important for all professors to keep doing what they’re teaching. I put myself out there as an actor and as a director so that I keep my skills sharp and know what my students are feeling. I keep training so I know what it’s like to be a student and not just a teacher. I enjoy it, I think the teaching feeds the acting and the acting feeds the teaching.

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Music Brings Culture to Towson

On Monday, October 4th, the World Music Faculty Recital took place in Towson University’s Center for the Arts.

The recital was held in the Recital Hall of the building. The two performers on stage were Kalin Kirilov on the accordion, and N. Scott Robinson on the tapan, which is a drum used in Balkan and Turkish music. The two played several traditional tunes from Middle Eastern countries, such as Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia. Each song that was performed had a history behind it that the performers would explain to the audience in between songs.

There were also a few guest performers who would come in for certain songs. At one point, there was a guest performer who chimed in with the soft toot of a trumpet. Kirilov and Robinson welcomed his music into the mix. “They both brought a lot of energy into the room and everyone was into it,” says sophomore, Erin, an attendee of the event. “The guest performers brought a new vibe by using different instruments.”

Kirilov and Robinson seemed to maintain eye contact with each other during the majority of the performance. Their confidence in the music and passion for the culture was prominent and felt by everyone in the room.

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Weill Festival Honors the Late Composer

Starting on September 26th and lasting until October 2nd, the Kurt Weill Festival will take place on the Towson University campus. Kurt Weill was a famous German composer in the 1920’s, who also composed many musicals in the United States. Throughout his lifetime, Weill has collaborated with many other famous composers, including Bertolt Brecht and Langston Hughes. Now, Weill’s work will be celebrated in Towson’s very own Center for the Arts, for anyone who is interested in attending.

On Sunday, September 26th, faculty members from Towson & Oldenberg Universities performed songs by Kurt Weill. The majority of these songs were from Weill’s American musicals, including: Lady in the Dark, Lost in the Stars, One Touch of Venus, and Knickerbocker Holiday. There was also a selection of German and French cabaret songs. This event took place at 7:30 p.m., tickets were $14 for general admission, $8 for seniors, and $6 for students.

On Monday September 27th, Greg Faller, Chairsperson of the Department of Electronic Media & Film will give a lecture on Kurt Weill, focusing on the many aspects of his legacy preserved on film. The lecture will also show film clips of Weill’s work in musicals, scores composed for film, and some of his German works, including G.W. Pabst version of Die Dreigroschenoper. The presentation will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Recital Hall. Admission is free!

“It’s great being able to honor the works of people who made a difference in the music culture,” says Molly Flax, Junior at TU. “Composing music is a huge talent and as long as there are artists and composers, music will never die.”

These are just two of the many events surround Kurt Weill that will be taking place on the Towson University Campus this week. You can find out more about these events, and the festival in general by visiting the Center for the Arts in Towson University.

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A Day at the Lake

Ella, 4, wanders around the lake near her home, on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore, MD.

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Women & Minorities in Media

On Monday, September 13th, the first meeting of the Women & Minorities in Media (WAMM) was held in the Media Center.

This campus club brings together all people interested in media to critique media works in progress, network, and listen to speakers from successful women and minorities in the media industry. The meetings will take place on the first Monday of every month until December 6th, in MC104, at 5:30 p.m. For more information about this club, visit http://www.towson.edu/wamm.

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