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  • Writer's pictureRenee Novelle

Bernard Chaimovitch Testimonial

“When you first hear the word cancer, you get scared.” For Bernard Chaimovitch, the diagnosis of prostate cancer launched a five-year journey of suggested surgeries and treatments, including 45 weeks of intense, often painful, radiation therapy. “That worked out fine, until about a year later when I developed what they called radiation proctitis.”

Radiation proctitis is a radiation-induced inflammation of, and damage to, lower parts of the colon caused by radiation exposure. The damage can have both early and late symptoms, which for Bernard included significant bleeding every time he went to the bathroom. “By that time, I was at my wits end,” he explains, “I didn’t know what to do.”

His provider advocated for hyperbaric oxygen therapy to help heal his internal injuries, and the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine & Wound Healing at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center was the closest option. “At first, I was skeptical, I didn’t know how this worked. And I didn’t know what to expect.” He admits. And understandably, the process can seem a little intimidating at first. “Anthony, the technician, explained it to me thoroughly and really set my mind at ease. He became a friend really, and he was terrific. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better.”

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is often suggested as it promotes an immediate increase of oxygen in the diseased blood vessels. During treatments, patients breathe 100% oxygen inside a chamber that is pressurized at 2-3 times greater than atmospheric pressure. This will eventually stimulate the growth of the new capillaries while fighting infection in an effort to speed healing.

The amount of time this requires is based on how severe the damage to the tissue is. In Bernard’s case, this took 90 sessions over a four-month period. “This coming January will be a year since I completed my therapy, and I have no bleeding whatsoever now. I’m so thrilled because it was a scary moment, I didn’t know what was happening to my body. But this helped in so many ways, it just fixes everything really. That’s the easiest way to put it. I couldn’t be more happy than I am now with the results.”

The Center for Hyperbaric Medicine & Wound Healing at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center promotes a full body healing experience. They don’t just heal your wounds, but they do so in a way that rests your mind and eases your soul. Neva Bolding, Program Director for the center, has taken significant care to foster this theory. “I can’t say enough good things about the providers and nurses with whom I work. They are truly dedicated to our patients and view each person as an individual with individual needs. This isn’t a one size fits all approach. This is truly a team who exemplifies compassion and caring.”

Even Bernard’s wife, Ellen, experienced the difference this approach makes. “I’m sure there are other facilities that have hyperbaric chambers, but I would recommend St. Catherine’s because of the people. It’s not just the machinery, it’s the people here who made it a good experience - for both of us.”

Even after his treatment was completed, the couple would still occasionally call just to say hello to the team. “Because after seeing them every day, and chatting with them, we felt close to them. And we feel very comfortable here,” Ellen explains. “They become a part of your life when you see them so much.”

“They really became family to us,” a warm smile spreads over Bernard’s face at the recollection, “It was a godsend really.”

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