Brooklyn woman’s survival in car accident leads to life-saving diagnosis

The horrific experience of a Brooklyn woman who survived a car accident led to a life-saving diagnosis.

“Out of something that was so horrific just a few blocks away came something so miraculous and I think life is coming to life,” Yolanda Cartusciello said after she and her husband were struck in their car at Sunset Park last January.

Cartusciello would then receive a diagnosis she never saw coming.

“Thymomas are dangerous because they don’t create many symptoms, so patients aren’t aware they’re there. It’s a very, very rare tumor in the front of the chest. It’s about 1.5 cases per million people,” says Dr. Travis Geraci, who is a thoracic surgeon at NYU Langone Brooklyn.

After the crash, an ambulance took Carusciello to NYU Langone Brooklyn Emergency Center with only minor injuries. But the news that followed some routine testing, she said, was almost unbelievable.

“Yolanda’s tumor was right there, just sitting on her heart,” Geraci said, pointing to her chest.

“I think the airbag saved my life in more ways than one. When I got in the ambulance, my first thought was, ‘I’m not even sure I want to go to the hospital. ‘ But the paramedics really convinced me that it would be a good idea to go and get checked out and I’m glad they did,” Cartusciello recalled.

On April 4, Geraci and his team at NYU Langone Brooklyn worked to remove Cartusciello’s stage 2 thymoma, as well as a tumor found in her uterus. She will now embark on a six-week journey of radiotherapy.

“I am completely amazed at the level of customer experience I have had working with NYU Langone,” Cartusciello said.

In addition to the staff at Perlmutter Cancer Center, Cartusciello has special people to thank for keeping spirits up in the dark.

“Without the love and support of my husband and daughter, I don’t know if I would do as well as I do. I would be nothing without them,” Cartusciello says with tears in his eyes.