“My two daughters are huge Taylor Swift fans, and so am I,” said Selena Campione, who sang during surgery to preserve her speech

Cancer Patient Sings Taylor Swift During Brain Surgery to Remove Tumor


For nearly a year, Selena Campione dealt with tingling and numbness on the right side of her body, which started in her face and progressed throughout her body.

The 36-year-old teacher from Stanhope, New Jersey, visited numerous doctors and neurologists, undergoing nine MRIs, but never received any answers for her symptoms. She was even put on eight different medications for ailments such as multiple sclerosis and seizures.

However, doctors couldn’t diagnose her and her symptoms continued to worsen.

“There were days I would get up where I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t use my right hand,” she recalled in a press release. “My face would swell up. I couldn’t speak, I would get stuck. I couldn’t get words out. And nobody knew what to do.”

Selena Campione and her daughters.COURTESY OF HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH

After a reference from a friend, Campione traveled to Jersey Shore University Medical Center and met with Nitesh V Patel, M.D., one of the neuro-oncologists at the Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute.

“Right away after looking at my case, he phoned me and he mentioned a couple different brain tumor types that he thought were causing my symptoms,” she said.

Dr. Patel suggested Campione undergo a craniotomy while awake in order to remove the brain tumor while preserving her speech, using a technology called Quicktome Connectomics.

Quicktome Brain Mapping Technology is an FDA-approved technology that maps out how a person’s brain works by giving a visual of which areas of the brain are being used to perform complex functions like “language, movement and cognition.”

Cancer Patient Sings Taylor Swift During Brain Surgery to Remove Tumor

Selena Campione during brain surgery.COURTESY OF HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH

This meant that Campione had to stay awake during the surgery and engage parts of her brain used to control her speech — which lit up in an orange and pink color on the QuickTome technology map of her brain — showing doctors which areas to keep intact.

In order to keep the speech parts of her brain constantly working (keeping the visual on the screen), Dr. Patel decided to have her sing.

“Singing allows me to continuously monitor a patient’s speech, cadence, and rhythm without interruptions and pauses that happen during a conversation,” he explained in the release.

Campione — a self-proclaimed “Swiftie” — said she knew immediately that she would want to sing songs by Taylor Swift.

“My two daughters are huge Taylor Swift fans, and so am I. I hear her music 24 hours a day, in my car, in my house. I could sing with her on stage if she wanted me to,” she said. “So it just made sense to sing it during surgery. It helped me, I felt like my daughters were with me.”

She added, “The nurses told me, ‘You are going to have fun in the operating room with Dr. Patel.’ I was like, ‘Really?’”

During surgery, Dr. Patel and his team removed Campione’s brain tumor and monitored her speech as she sang along to some of Swift’s biggest hits, including “22,” “Style” and “Shake It Off.”

“It was fantastic,” Campione admitted. “I didn’t feel anything. The nurses were holding my hand, walking me through everything and singing along with me. I even think I’ve turned the doctors into Swifties. You see them in one of the videos tapping along to the beat with their tools.”

“My daughters were with me the whole surgery. Knowing they would be singing right along with me, got me through the surgery,” she continued.

Dr. Patel’s surgery was ultimately successful and the tumor was not cancerous. Now, a few months after surgery, Campione said she is symptom-free and able to get back to her normal life while staying on top of her routine checkups.

“Now my younger daughter tells her teacher Taylor Swift was in the operating room singing with me,” she said, noting that although the videos of her singing aren’t great, they make for a good story. “I mean it’s a little embarrassing of course, I don’t think Taylor Swift is going to want me to be on stage with her anytime soon.”