Bill Mason’s cancer journey began in summer 2013, when he developed a painful lump in the upper back of his thigh that grew noticeably. He assumed it was only a muscle injury and saw his doctor and a chiropractor. Both diagnosed the lump as a pinched sciatic nerve with swelling.
But by November, the pain had intensified and the lump had grown further. Several more visits to local doctors near his home in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, revealed that Bill, 64, didn’t have a pinched nerve but rather an extremely rare, soft-tissue sarcoma.
Bill’s doctor told him the tumor was eight inches by six inches wide and growing ever larger — so large that it had wrapped around the pelvis and was squeezing his sciatic nerve. He would need treatment right away or he risked losing function of his leg.
“I was scared to death,” he said. “Up to now, I spent my entire life staying away from doctors!”
Bill’s local doctor didn’t have a lot of experience with sarcomas, so Bill sought a second opinion. Through research, Bill’s wife, Gail, learned that Raphael Pollock, MD, at the OSUCCC – James was one of the world’s leading experts in sarcoma.
Gail wanted Bill to see Dr. Pollock right away, but Bill, wanting to be rid of the tumor as soon as possible, disagreed. “I was mad,” he said, “and I didn’t want to take any more time. I didn’t want more bad news.”
Thankfully, he eventually followed his wife’s advice.
“By the time I left my first appointment with Dr. Pollock,” Bill recalled, “my attitude, and outlook, was completely different. I was so impressed with his competence and demeanor.” In a short time, Bill said he came to completely trust Dr. Pollock and Dr. Ehud Mendel, his neurologist."
“I finally found a doctor who knew what he was doing, who developed a plan and strategy,” he said. He was very impressed, he said, "with the way his doctors approached his treatment as a team."
On Dr. Pollock’s recommendation, Bill underwent radiation treatment for five weeks at his local hospital, to help seal and shrink the tumor, making surgery possible. In early March 2014, Bill made the 100-mile drive to Columbus for surgery.
During surgery, Dr. Joel Mayerson, Bill’s orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Pollock stood, for several hours, one on each side of Bill’s thigh and slowly separated the tumor from the sciatic nerve.
Several hours and 222 staples later, Bill’s surgery was a success. The doctors were able to remove the entire tumor, leaving nothing but a very large scar.
Dr. Pollock saw Bill postsurgery and will see him again for follow-up visits.
Bill’s advice as a cancer survivor is simple: “Listen to others when they tell you to get a second, or even third, opinion,” he said. “Look for a doctor that you can trust, and rely on, and if you are within a 500-mile radius of the OSUCCC – James, go see Dr. Pollock.”