Patrick Tomboc, DO, division chief of WVU Medicine Children’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, treats children and young adults with all forms of cancer.
Oral medications, intravenous treatments, and spinal canal injections are very effective in treating leukemia and other childhood cancers. “We’re living in an amazing time with amazing treatments,” Dr. Tomboc says.
“We can get the majority of patients into remission within the first four weeks of treatment,” he explains. “They start feeling a lot better a week or two into therapy as we get the leukemia cells out of them. The rest of the therapy is to prevent a recurrence.”
Tomboc is continually inspired by the families he meets, watching them rise to the occasion in helping their child recover and thrive. And he is inspired by the kindness of strangers who donate time, money, and resources to help the children. “It reaffirms my faith in humanity,” he says.
Another of his inspirations is Toni, a black-and-white border collie who wins hearts every day in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. Tomboc is certified as an animal handler and was instrumental in bringing Toni and the support animal program to WVU Medicine Children’s.
“Animal therapy has a significant impact on patients in the hospital – lowering blood pressure, decreasing pain, and improving quality of life,” he says. “Toni motivates kids to get out of bed and walk, and helps children who are a bit shy break out of their shells, laying her head on their beds.
“Our goal is to cure all kids and young adults with cancer, reduce complications of therapy, and find ways to prevent childhood cancer,” says Tomboc. “Pediatric Hematology/Oncology includes a close association with local, regional, and international children’s hospitals to provide the absolute best care possible.” It is part of the Children’s Oncology Group, the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research.
As division chief, he’s been able to build the hospital’s inpatient center and infusion center. “It’s an amazing place for our kids,” he says. “I wanted to help a lot of kids and build something that lasts a long time.” He also feels very fortunate to act as Medical Director of WVU’s Camp Winaca HemoVon, a weeklong residential camp for children with a bleeding disorder or cancer.
Tomboc is married and has three young children. He works out every morning and loves cooking in his spare time. He grew up in southeast Texas, and a mentor lured him to WVU Medicine Children’s. “I love the college town – the diversity, activity, and football games. It’s a great environment to practice medicine and raise kids.”
He adds: “I love the relationship I have with patients, and I love the trust parents give me. It’s sacred.”