Helen Streaker née Carter
Dhahran, November 1959
In this very personal account, Helen Streaker openly shares the story of her fight against breast cancer and a unique treatment she recently discovered in the hope that she may educate women about cryoablation, a minimally invasive treatment option for breast cancer tumors less than 2 centimeters in diameter. Helen writes:
We Aramcons of my generation often speak of the Aramco family because for those of us who spent many, many years in Saudi Arabia our Aramco friends truly did become family. Therefore, even though I haven't met all of you, I am going to treat you as a family member and share some very personal information.
In 1993, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my left breast. I had the traditional treatment at that time, a mastectomy, followed by radiation, followed by reconstruction, followed by ten years on an estrogen modulator medication. Each of these involved pain and downtime and side effects but I was happy, I was a cancer survivor. However, in 2006 I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, a progressive issue which affected both my feet and hands, which may have been caused by the medication. In the beginning, the peripheral neuropathy wasn’t that bad. I could cope. But later, it became more difficult.
In July 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my right breast. After several tests, I met with a team of three doctors to learn what my protocol would be. They started by telling me I absolutely could not have surgery as I was considered a poor surgical risk because I've had three strokes. Also, I could not have radiation because I had the maximum allowable amount in 1993 when I had the first breast cancer and the team did not think I should have chemo because it would make my quality of life exceedingly poor. They finished by saying that my only option was to take another estrogen modulator that, while it would not put my cancer into remission, it would probably keep it from growing and since it was small there should be no problem.
Of course, I started taking the new medication. However, within two months I realized that my peripheral neuropathy was getting much worse. Walking became much more difficult. I had some falls. The worst of it was the pain and very poor sleep. Before the cancer medication, the pain was tolerable with only a small amount of pain medication. After I started on the cancer medication, it became almost unbearable. I was taking the maximum amount of pain medication possible and still the pain would keep me awake at night. I was not living, I was merely enduring being alive. Life was not good.
However, while my life was going downhill, a friend of mine was also having a severe knee problem. After two unsuccessful surgeries and months of therapy, Joyce consulted three more orthopedists. They all told her the same thing, wear a knee brace and take pain medication. But Joyce did not accept that verdict. After doing a great deal of research, Joyce decided to have stem cell treatments with Celltex. We were all amazed! After suffering for two years, Joyce was pain-free and walking well within three months. It seemed to be a miracle!
Of course, seeing Joyce's wonderful recovery piqued my interest in Celltex and stem cell treatments. I did my research, met more people who had had successful stem cell treatments and decided I must try it. Life wasn't worth living. I could find no one who had had bad side effects, so what did I have to lose by trying the treatments? On January 21, 2016. I had my first stem cell treatment. To my utter amazement, within six days, I was off all pain medication! To say I was elated is an understatement! I had been living with some degree of peripheral neuropathy pain since 2006. It didn't seem possible that I could be pain-free, but I was.
However, my stem cell treatments would not put my cancer in remission. I was still on the hated cancer medication. I was still having serious side effects from it. So while I was ecstatic to be pain-free, I had great anxiety about what the cancer medication might do to me.
Helen and her doctor having
lunch following cryoablation treatment
on April 21, 2016
Ah! Great good fortune! I just happened to be visiting a friend when a friend of hers dropped by anxious to tell her about a doctor in California whom he had recently met who was treating breast cancer by freezing the tumor, no surgery, no radiation, no drugs, no side effects. Of course, I was exceedingly interested. I got the doctor's name and phone number and came home and did research on cryoablation. When I read the results of numerous clinical studies showing that cryoablation destroyed breast tumors, there was no question in my mind that I must do this. I flew out to California and had the Visica® 2 Treatment System procedure, cryoablation, on April 21st, 2016 and stopped taking the cancer medication prescribed.
You see, it had never occurred to me to question my team. I was being treated at Houston's top rated cancer hospital. When they told me that medication was my only option, I accepted what they said. However, they were wrong, it was not my only option. I later discovered that they had to know about the results of the National Cancer Institute Z1072 study which was concluded in May of 2015 because two of their doctors had participated in the study. I have no idea why I was not told of this option, but I wasn't.
Can you imagine how ecstatic I am to have this recent early stage breast cancer successfully treated in about a half hour with no surgery, radiation or chemo? Side effects? The incision for the probe was too small to put a stitch in so I did wear a Band-Aid for about three days. I am well aware of how fortunate I am to have learned about this option.
The equipment to do the procedure is extremely sophisticated but for the patient, the procedure could not be easier. On the day of my procedure, the doctor performed Visica cryoablation on a small tumor (7mm) in my right breast. The treatment was treated as surgery with all the usual procedures, sterile drapes, etc. A local anesthetic was applied to the area and after that, a pain shot was given. I waited just a short time and then the probe was inserted into my breast. An ultrasound technician was assisting the entire time so the doctor could see exactly where the probe was in relation to my tumor. I had no discomfort and rather enjoyed watching the ultrasound! The doctor said my tumor was a little more difficult because it was so very small; he treats tumors up to 2 centimeters and mine was less than 1 centimeter.
I have written all of this because my mission has become to tell as many women as possible about this. I do not want other women to have unnecessary surgery, radiation, chemo, or drugs if they are a candidate for this treatment which treats tumors up to 2 cm. It is approved by the FDA but not all insurance companies cover it.
By the way, cryoablation has been used for thirty years for liver and kidney tumors and is also used for prostate cancer.
Please, research this for yourself. There's a lot of information out there. I didn't research it because I totally trusted my doctors to give me the full story. They did not. I have learned my lesson.
Helen would like to share the following video featuring BJ Hardman, Chairman and CEO of Sanarus Technologies, who was diagnosed with breast cancer. In this intimate and personal account, she shares her experience - from diagnosis to cryoablation with the Visica® 2 Treatment System. The video also features Dr. Dennis Holmes explaining the breast cryoablation procedure and discussing key findings from the Z1072 clinical trial sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.
To learn more about Sanarus, you may visit their website at http://www.sanarus.com/. Also included is a Sanarus fact sheet.