In the fall of 2017, I came down with flu-like symptoms and my primary care doctor, Claudia Maidana-Paz, ordered blood work. I was diagnosed with APL leukemia, an acute leukemia that is hyper-fatal if untreated. Most people who die from APL leukemia die in the first days, and treatment must be started right away. Upon getting the labs, my doctor spent the morning urgently called oncologists in Las Cruces and Dr. Ike was the one who immediately got back to her. Dr. Ike is also a hematologist, and the only oncologist in Las Cruces who has successfully treated a patient with APL leukemia. Most patients are sent to Albuquerque or Houston, because APL leukemia is considered difficult to treat and requires round-the-clock monitoring by the oncologist, especially in the induction phase.
Dr. Ike began coordinating my care even before I arrived at the emergency room of Memorial Medical Center on the day I was diagnosed. I had the option of transferring to a cancer center in Houston, but as soon as I met Dr. Ike, I knew that I wanted him to be my oncologist. Dr. Ike is extremely intelligent, knowledgeable, and experienced. But beyond that, he has an innate nobility, a kindness and confidence that made me feel that I could entrust my life in his hands.
I spent 24 days in the hospital getting blood transfusions as Dr. Ike worked to stabilize my blood. There was a high risk of infection and internal bleeding, and very little room for error. Dr. Ike monitored me like a hawk, sometimes ordering blood tests in the middle of the night, visiting me on all days but one, including weekends. I then had about 150 days of arsenic infusions, combined with ATRA therapy, over 35 weeks. I finished treatment and went into remission in July of 2018.
For Dr. Ike, healing is truly a calling. He is 100% committed to his patients, and it is so apparent that his heart is deeply invested in his work. I always felt respected and cared for by Dr. Ike, treated as a human being and not just as a patient. He is compassionate and attentive, listening to all my concerns and answering all my questions. Dr. Ike saved my life, and he is the rock that got me through a very difficult chapter in my life. Because I felt safe in his care, I was able to focus all my energy on healing. I do not have enough words of gratitude for Dr. Ike, and every day I consider myself lucky that he is my oncologist.