It’s probably safe to say I am one of very few people who is not fearful of keeping an appointment with my oncologist. I feel very secure in thinking he will tell me everything is fine, continue to enjoy by everyday life and he’ll see me in another six months.
I feel this security after having breast cancer discovered in December, 2015 during a routine mammography. That led to meeting with a radiologist at Centra State Hospital in Freehold, NJ, Dr. Tomkovich. This thinking-out- of-the-box radiologist and my oncologist who told me about the breast cancer asked if I would participate in a trial, a trial that could be done immediately, but with results not conclusive for five years. Since it was a simple procedure, eliminated the need for either breast surgery or a mastectomy, and would not mean any stay in a hospital and only a 45 minute disruption in my daily schedule, made it easy to say, ‘Sure, I’m game.”
The procedure was cryoablation, not yet approved in this country, but undergoing trials by Dr. Tomkovich and Centra State and only a few other hospitals across the nation. Essentially, the doctor inserted a needle in my breast, the needle (not my breast) was filled with a freezing gas, and while watching on the computer, (which I could see as well) the doctor inserted the needle directly into the tumor. The frozen needle actually froze the tumor to death. It then shriveled up and went away, like any dead tissue in the body. That was it. Twenty-seven minutes of meeting some pretty fine people, getting a bandage put on the spot where the needle had been inserted, and leaving with thanks to all. Leaving also with a sense of exhilaration. I actually got to see that cancerous tumor shrivel up and die.
That was five years, six months ago. For the first five years, I visited both Dr. Tomkovich, the radiologist who worked the magic, and Dr. Belar, my oncologist who agreed I did not need either chemo or radiation. Both just to be sure things went along smoothly.
In February, when I went for my five year exams, everything was exactly as we all thought it would be. No cancer, no return of anything, no problems, no side effects, no nothing.
However, Dr. Belar is ever the cautious and close-watching oncologist. So he’s insisting I continue to come back for a routine visit every six months. It’s scheduled for this Friday and nothing is different from how everything has been for five and a half years.
But I love the concern, I love the care, and I love the fact I participated in a trial that is now making life easier and less fearful for some breast cancer women. Friday, I’ll let you know when my sixth anniversary appointment will be, and what happened in this one at five and a half years aft-er cryoablation.