University of South Florida

USF Health Grateful Patient Series: Dr. Harry van Loveren and Greg Strachov

Greg Strachov of Citrus County, FL, has been an artist for more than 40 years, garnering numerous local, national and international awards for his watercolors.

In the fall of 2017, an MRI scan discovered a softball-sized meningioma tumor near where Mr. Strachov’s brain connects to his spinal cord. Meningiomas, while usually benign, are the most common type of brain tumor and can still cause widespread health problems for the patient. For Mr. Strachov, this included losing his ability to walk or create his art.

Greg Strachov displays some of his watercolors recently in his Citrus County, FL, home. Mr. Strachov, a renowned artist, had a softball-sized brain tumor removed by USF Health neurosurgeon Dr. Harry van Loveren after two successful surgeries.

Mr. Strachov, 69, was referred to USF Health neurosurgeon Dr. Harry van Loveren, who performed a 13-hour surgery on the tumor in January 2018. The surgery removed much of the tumor but left Mr. Strachov paralyzed on the right side with little ability to move his left eye. Over the ensuing months, Mr. Strachov underwent strenuous rehabilitation to regain movement and coordination on his right side. He even picked up a new hobby; he found restoring old hand drills helped retrain his fine motor skills.

Dr. van Loveren determined in mid-2019 that he needed to remove more of the tumor and presented the potential risks to Mr. Strachov. They agreed, and Dr. van Loveren performed the second surgery in August 2019. The operation was a success, although a small piece of the tumor remains inoperable and Mr. Strachov’s physicians will monitor its development in the years to come.

Dr. Harry van Loveren, USF Health Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery.

Mr. Strachov has been able to return to painting and other activities he loves. “Dr. van Loveren,” he says, “gave me back the ability to live.”

Mr. Strachov paints a wide variety of watercolor work, including portraits and still life, but he particularly enjoys landscapes.

“I like to paint places that remind people of a reality that they can actually visit in reality,” he says. In fact, after eventually regaining the ability to paint, his first big project was a painting of a lone desert tree in the American Southwest.

Greg Strachov stands with the first watercolor he completed following a series of surgeries to remove a brain tumor.

“It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, and it’s a place that kept itself on my mind while I went through all of the hospitalization and all the surgeries,” he says. “That tree is perhaps me, and it’s survived a very, very difficult environment.”

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