Neurosurgeon talks brain tumor warning signs after UGA student dies following diagnosis

Liza Burke received treatment at Jacksonville Mayo Clinic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A University of Georgia student who suffered a brain hemorrhage while on spring break in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, passed away Friday after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor.

Liza Burke initially thought she had a headache and tried to sleep it off, but about five hours later her friends found her unconscious while on vacation in March, according to her family. Eventually, she was taken to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville where doctors discovered that she had a brain tumor.

According to neurosurgeon Dr. Rabih Tawk, headaches are a common warning sign.

“There are several symptoms including headaches, which may be severe and can worsen with activity, occur at night or in the early mornings. Changes in the motor function such as weakness in an arm that doesn’t move or a leg that’s weak. Or changes in the sensory function, numbness, tingling,” Tawk said.

Metastatic, meningioma, glioblastoma, and astrocytoma are the four most common types of brain tumors. However, glioblastoma also known as grade four astrocytoma, is the deadliest and can kill in less than six months.

According to reports, Burke had glioblastoma.

“It spreads so rapidly. By the time we find it and we do imaging it’s already spread beyond of what we see on the imagining,” Tawk said. “It destroys the brain tissue and every area has a function and loses those functions progressively,” Tawk said.

Nearly 19,000 people will die from brain and spinal cord tumors with a little over 11,000 being men and about 8,000 being women, according to the American Cancer Society.

Tawk also said the best thing you can do to lower your risk is to live a healthy lifestyle and listen to your body… don’t delay your health.

About the Author:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.