Last month I attended a three-day conference in Stamford, CT, called “Advanced Strategies in Cancer Care.” This was a Continuing Medical Education conference given for doctors by doctors. I had two purposes for going: (1) discover new ways of addressing my diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer; (2) find new speakers for our Cancer as a Turning Point conference. I accomplished both. I’m just going to write about the first one this week.
You might remember that I was told I wasn’t a candidate for a thermal ablation because of the location of the tumor in my lung. I was told that the collateral damage to other organs could be catastrophic. They recommended major surgery to “scoop out” the tumor.
One of the speakers at the conference in Stamford spoke about ablation technology and success he has had using it in Alabama for the past ten years. During a break I shared with him what I had been told and where my tumor is. He said, in his experience, there was no danger of any collateral damage to other organs. He believed he could do the procedure easily and successfully on my tumor. He questioned whether he could get insurance to pay for it.
Other relevant pieces of information I gleaned from other speakers at the conference are: (1) Surgery stimulates inflammation in the body, which promotes the growth of cancer; (2) Improved diet, supplements, reduced stress, deepening one’s spiritual life, and other “treatments” I am employing are more effective when the tumor load is removed.
Given this information, all learned in three days, I am highly motivated to eliminate my tumor without having surgery.
When I got back home, I made an appointment with a different Interventional Radiologist in a different healthcare system. I saw him last week and he agrees with everything I learned at the conference, and agrees that he can ablate my tumor. It’s his specialty. He also said my insurance will cover it. He recommends cryoablation (freezing it instead of burning it) because it is a less painful procedure and equally effective. I had also learned about this procedure at the conference and it makes sense to me.
He wants another CT scan before doing it, so I suggested we wait till July when I already have a scan scheduled for my 6 month re-test. So if the tumor is still there in July, it needs to “get its affairs in order” because it will soon be ablated. Hurray!
I think one “take-home” lesson from this journey is a reinforcement of the recommendation to follow one’s intuition regarding treatment, and not do what a doctor recommends if it doesn’t feel right.