- Associated Press - Thursday, July 16, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - A 12-year-old girl celebrated a year of being seizure-free Thursday after receiving laser treatment in Phoenix for a rare brain tumor.

Holly Hudson suffered 50 seizures a month due to a rare brain tumor called hypothalamic hamartoma, also known as “HH.”

Holly traveled to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, where doctors treated her tumor using unique laser technology last year. She appeared at a news conference alongside her mother and doctor Thursday.

“The tumor in my brain caused so many different things,” Holly said. “Math problems, especially reading comprehension problems and mood and eating problems. But since Dr. (Peter) Nakaji removed it, I have my first B in math!”

Officials at the Barrow Neurological Institute are hailing the surgery as an important step in treating the rare tumor.

People are usually born with HH and are most commonly diagnosed during childhood because that’s when seizures begin to occur, said Carmelle Malkovich, media relations manager at the Barrow Neurological Institute. However, patients across the world often get misdiagnosed due to the extreme rarity of it, she said.

HH is a rare, non-cancerous tumor in the hypothalamus region of the brain which controls various functions of the body. Symptoms include seizures, hormone imbalances, cognitive impairment, behavioral problems, and emotional difficulties, according to the Barrow Neurological Institute website.

The area which the tumor is found could affect functions such as thirst, hunger, energy, and emotion, said Lisa Soeby, president and co-founder of “Hope for HH.”

Soeby’s son was diagnosed with HH and has undergone four surgeries to treat it, before laser treatment was available.

“It’s such a complex spot in the brain, it’s very risky and it’s not a guarantee. Often times you have to go in several times and some patients are treated once and are seizure-free and don’t have cognitive issues. It’s a rarity,” Soeby said.

Laser treatments were developed in the last five years when a doctor suggested that the same treatment used for cancerous brain tumors could be used on patients suffering from HH, Soeby said.

The Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix is one of the few hospitals across the country to use the unique laser technology.

“Ten years ago we never envisioned this type of revolutionary brain surgery,” Malkovich said.

The institute held a news conference Thursday to celebrate Holly being seizure-free for a year.

Holly has been off all medications since December and hopes to become a comedian when she grows up.

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