How Esther found cancer pain relief through cryoablation

Feb 1, 2024
Esther with her husband and two of her four children.
Esther (second from right) with her husband and two of her four children.

One evening as she was getting ready for bed, Esther found a lump in her breast. A biopsy later revealed that she had metastatic breast cancer. A few months later, as the cancer spread to her bones, the pain began.

“The pain was centered mostly around my right shoulder blade. It was debilitating,” she says, so much so that she had to stop doing many of the things she loved, like gardening and her daily runs. “It even hurt to stand up or sit down,” she recalls.

Navigating options for cancer pain

Esther saw several different oncologists to discuss options to treat her pain, including radiation, which would consist of 10 treatments over two weeks. Through her work as a clinical specialist in the Interventional Oncology and Embolization business at Boston Scientific, Esther knew about a medical device that could potentially provide more rapid pain relief: the Visual ICETM cryoablation system.

The system uses extreme cold to destroy tissue such as tumors and lesions in organs including the kidneys, liver and lungs. In 2023, the Visual ICE system received an expanded 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat pain associated with tumors that have metastasized to bone — like Esther’s debilitating mass.

Esther remembers the day of her procedure like it was yesterday. “I rolled into the room and saw the machine and needles. It was surreal, knowing they would be used on me,” she said. Until that moment, Esther had been on the production side of the cryoablation technology. Now, she would be on the receiving end — as a patient. “I knew it was going to work because I trust in our products,” she says.

While Esther was under anesthesia, the surgeon used a needle to inject compressed gas into her tumor to freeze it. The temperature of the tumor then dropped, destroying the cancerous cells in her bones that were responsible for her pain. The procedure didn’t take long, and Esther was able to go home the same day.

Energized and pain-free after cryoablation

Esther’s recovery process was smooth, and the athletic mom of four was able to resume exercising almost immediately. Just one week after her procedure, Esther ran a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon as part of a four-day annual event challenge at Walt Disney World. “I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face, tears streaming down my cheeks and a Mickey Mouse bar in hand,” she says.

When training new employees at the company, Esther isn’t shy about telling her cryoablation story. “It reinforces the importance of our work, and the impact our products can make for patients who may be navigating a difficult diagnosis or are struggling with chronic pain,” she says. “Our technology improves lives, and my story is one of many powerful examples of what meaningful innovation can do.”


Learn more about cryoablation and other innovative interventional oncology solutions offered by Boston Scientific.