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El Camino Hospital and Me

Tom’s Story: Melanoma

Some say "attitude is everything" when it comes to cancer treatment. In Tom's case, this certainly seems to be true. Although he was diagnosed with advanced (stage IV) melanoma in 2011, he remained confident that the doctors at El Camino Hospital's Cancer Center would take excellent care of him.

And they did. Medical oncologist Shane Dormady started Tom on an immediate course of chemotherapy, which shrunk the tumor on his liver by 50 percent. El Camino's radiologists tackled the rest of the tumor with radiofrequency ablation (RFA), a technique that uses imaging tools to guide a needle through the skin and into the tumor; once the needle enters the tumor, high-frequency electrical energy heats and destroys it.

A final course of CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery. targeted radiation treatment took care of the remaining cancer. By December, a PET scan showed that Tom was in complete remission, an outcome that is essentially "unheard of" in advanced-stage melanoma, according to Dr. Dormady.

Although no one wants to have to go through cancer treatment, Tom points out that it wasn't all bad. A highlight for Tom was getting to know the El Camino Hospital medical team. A friend of Dr. Thomas Fogarty of El Camino Hospital's Fogarty Institute for Innovation, Tom immediately felt at home wherever he went on the Mountain View campus.

"I have yet to meet a person at El Camino Hospital who is not nice to you," says Tom. "And I know just about everyone there now."

He especially connected with Dr. Robert Sinha in radiation oncology, Dr. Fabio Komlos in interventional radiology and Dr. Dormady, whom he describes as "just regular people." Tom even says he even "had fun" with the doctors, despite all the treatments.

As he looks back on his treatment, Tom says, "The attitude of the folks at El Camino is what really mattered most to me." Although he certainly regrets all those sunburns he had growing up on the beaches of Hawaii (in the days when no one wore sunscreen), he does not regret his decision to seek treatment at the El Camino Hospital Cancer Center.