When Robert Hockings was diagnosed with a brain tumor, he feared for the worst.
"I thought, 55 years isn't too bad. I've lived a good life so far; it's probably coming to an end,'" recalled Hockings.
Hockings works as a corrections officer at the Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility, and it's there where an incident triggered a series of events that lead to his diagnosis.
Back in May, Hockings suffered a blow to the head during an inmate altercation at the prison. Hockings says that moment ended up changing his life.
Hockings only thought he suffered a concussion, but severe and constant headaches brought him back to the hospital. A CT scan revealed a mass growing near his brain, and Hockings was rushed to Marquette General where he was diagnosed with the tumor.
He consulted with doctors at the Mayo Clinic, who recommended a heavily invasive procedure.
"Their procedure there at Mayo in Rochester would be an open craniotomy where they cut you ear to ear, peel your face down and take a large portion of your skull cap off, then lift your brain and operate at this tumor that's underneath your brain," Hockings said.
Hockings decided to search for alternatives on the internet where he discovered the Skull Base Institute in California. He took interest in the Institute's endoscopic procedure, where surgeons only make an incision along the eyebrow.
"We have a fiber optic tool that goes in, and that fiber optic tool will take us all the way to the tumor, and without even touching the brain we will take that tumor out completely through the small opening," said Hrayr Shahinian, the doctor who invented the procedure and who will operate on Hockings.
Shahinian says the surgery has the same risks of brain fluid leakage associated with the conventional treatment but at much smaller scale.
Hockings is the father of two and a husband. He says his diagnosis has been taxing on the family, but they are remaining positive.
"You know, when I first found out I had this tumor, the outlook wasn't very good and now the outlook is quite good. Everybody is upbeat, and we're looking for a good outcome," Hockings said.
Hockings will undergo the procedure July 31. He's expected to be released on August 5, and he looks forward to returning to work sometime in September.