The New Zealand mom whose life was saved by a retired Ridgewood physician is on her way to the U.S. to shake his hand this week, according to a new column that the doctor penned for NJ.com.
Sajjad Iqbal has been retired from medicine for more than 30 years but still serves on the board of the Facebook's Head and Neck Cancer Support Group -- and also for a cancer patient empowerment non-profit organization.
Diana Craig, 54, of Auckland, New Zealand, was first diagnosed with throat cancer in 2018, the NJ.com article says.
The cancer spread to her lymph nodes and she underwent to surgeries and radiation.
Craig thought she was cancer-free, but being the longest living survivor of salivary duct carcinoma and battling cancer since 2002, Iqbal thought otherwise.
A routine follow-up showed the cancer had returned and Craig's doctor gave her two years to live, at best, Iqbal said.
When she posted her story to the Head and Neck Cancer Support Group, the Ridgewood physician jumped to her aid.
The pair discussed Craig's case informally in emails, phone calls and on Facebook before Iqbal recommended a more aggressive oncologist, and ultimately, the drug that may have saved her life: Keytruda.
"I felt she was a candidate for radiation therapy and immunotherapy and would benefit from both regimens given simultaneously," said Iqbal, who diagnosed himself with cancer and came up with his own treatment plan.
"The radiation oncologist she consulted not only agreed with the treatment plan we purposed but, using the latest technology called Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy, devised an even more aggressive treatment plan."
Craig and Iqbal -- both cancer-free -- will meet on Wednesday in Ridgewood for the first time.
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