And a Happy New Year it is, now!
In 2003, my mother, at age 83, was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Given my mothers zest for life, I knew I needed to explore all possible avenues for treatment. We first went to Staten Island University Hospital and listened carefully to the recommendations of the medical and radiation oncologists. We also consulted with Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City. When it was time to make a decision, we opted for a total hysterectomy and radiation treatment only at SIUH. We understood that this was not a cure, but a treatment that might prolong her life a few more years.
We never met Dr. Lederman at that time, but another physician, Dr. Irina Grossman was in charge of my mom’s treatments. Dr. Grossman had all the love and compassion any person could ask for! She was always available to answer whatever question you may have, either at the facility or at home (she gave out her home number). Once treatment was complete, subsequent follow up visits were made with Dr. Grossman until she was let go by the hospital. It seems politics played out more importantly than patient care. Dr. Grossman was a colleague of Dr. Ledermans, so when he left the hospital, so did she. Needless to say, we were deeply troubled by this and the series of events because we knew that someday the cancer would return, and we wanted to continue treatment with the doctors we knew who put patients first. Dr. Grossman took a position in another facility in Brooklyn NY, so we went there every 6 months for follow-ups until she departed to Florida.
In Jan, 2007, my mother started to experience stomach pain, indigestion, nausea so her physician recommended a CT scan of the abdomen/pelvis. Some irregular findings were discovered and a PET-CT was also ordered. Sadly, we were confronted with cancer again; it had metastasized to the para-aortic lymph nodes and right arm axillary nodes. We returned to SIUH but were not satisfied with their recommendations. Even within their own department, there was a difference in opinion that ranged from doing biopsies versus no biopsies, chemo versus no chemo, radiation versus no radiation, which area to treat, if not treat both. Feeling uncomfortable with the situation there, we continued to pursue opinions from MSKH and another physician in Staten Island at Regional Radiology. Despite the many differences in the approach, the general consensus was that my mother may get another year of life with some sort of treatment. We needed to do something, decide on the direction of the treatment. After 1-1/2 months of total confusion and chaos, I phoned Dr. Grossman in Florida who strongly suggested we call Dr. Lederman for a consultation.
On March 15, 2007 we met with Dr. Gil Lederman. We found him to be pleasant, knowledgeable and direct. When I spoke about the various opinions others had, he addressed them. When I told him we were told my mother would only get another year of life, he replied “they aren’t God”. He offered his treatment recommendations, so we returned home with a decision to make. It wasn’t difficult for us to make that decision, we wanted Dr. Lederman and his staff to administer treatment. We felt stereotactic radiation was better @ directly hitting the cancers, rather than be subjected to chemo at 87 years of age. This was certainly a quality of life decision for us!
So in April, 2007 my mother began her 12 radiation treatments, first to the para-aortic area, then to the axial. She did experience some nausea so Dr. Lederman prescribed medication to deal with it. For a few months following the treatment, she did have other symptoms such as lightheadedness, facial tingling/numbness, leg numbness; however we were assured it would go away in time. Regardless how many times we phoned Dr. Lederman, he was quick to respond and always followed up.
A follow-up PET-CT scan in August, 2007 revealed additional cancer in the neck nodes. Once again, it was clear to us that the only treatment my mother should have is stereotactic radiation with Dr. Lederman and his team. This was relatively symptom free since it was not in the vicinity of any major organ. Another PET-CT was done in January, 2008, and to our disappointment, the cancer returned to the para-aortic region. Dr. Lederman said it was a rather small area and easily treatable again, so on April 29, 2008 my mother had her last stereotactic treatment. During all this we continued to consult with the oncologists at SIUH and MSKH who reiterated their recommendation for chemo; we just didn’t want to take their advice.
Since that time, 2 additional PET-CT scans were done, and we are happy to report that she is presently cancer free. I might add, that age 88, she is feeling quite good! She still goes to her senior club meetings, the theatre, movies, and in fact made a trip to Germany this past September.
I can easily say that Dr. Gil Lederman was instrumental in making this happen and we are extremely grateful to him for his passion in helping others. We both feel he is a man well ahead of his time. I, personally, think the man is a genius and other physicians are threatened by him, for they lack his knowledge and passion of a disease that has taken so many away. He doesn’t make promises, he only presents the facts. Well my mother is a walking testament to his practice of medicine. While others said she would most likely be dead by early 2008, here it is January 2009, and she is very much alive and well. Thank you, Dr. Lederman for being who you are, a brilliant, passionate, caring person who puts the lives of others as his priority. To us, you are the epitome of what every physician should be.
Happy New Year!!!!!