Events in December 2021 kicked off an interesting journey in health care! I am asking for help in paying for a great advance in breast cancer treatment and am hoping by this request to raise awareness of cryoablation for breast cancer so that other women may benefit from it too.
It began with a positive Covid test and then pneumonia which prompted a chest CT to check my lungs. Good news…lungs are ok…but a nodule was found in the left breast. An Ultrasound, a breast MRI and a biopsy produced a diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma. I was not interested in the lumpectomy and mastectomy solutions that would be offered so I began to research alternatives to those treatments.
God is so good! Research turned up several articles about cryoablation for breast cancer including information about pioneers of this procedure: Dr. Peter Littrup and his patient Laura Ross-Paul who was the first woman in North America to receive this treatment almost 20 years ago. Laura later wrote an interesting book with her husband and Dr. Littrup entitled “They’re Mine and I’m Keeping Them – How Freezing My Breast Saved My Breast”.
Breast Cancer Cryoablation, in very simple terms, involves a tiny incision, a cryo probe, ultrasound guidance and the formation of an ice ball that kills the tumor. There is generally no anesthesia needed, usually takes less than an hour, could be done in a doctor’s office and results in little or no scarring or disfiguration. For tumors that qualify for this treatment, doesn’t this sound better than major surgery?!
The downside is that insurance, including my Medicare, may not cover this for breast cancer although it usually does for prostate and renal cancers that can be treated with cryoablation.
For me, an already existing blood cancer (myeloproliferative neoplasm) has limited my ability to work and support myself making the expenses involved in getting treatment a very large obstacle. I will need to travel from Montana to Michigan where Dr. Littrup practices, take time off work and likely pay out of pocket to get the treatment I believe is best for me. I hope my doing so will also offer some encouragement to other women seeking another option for their breast cancer treatment.
Blessings! Ann Morren