By wc@@@ - May 1, 2014

Proton BOB Quote

Dear Members:

The annual National Association for Proton Therapy "NAPT" conference was held in Washington, DC, again this year. The conference ran from March 31 through April 3 with a record number of people in attendance. Participants included administrative and clinical representatives from all proton centers in the U.S., along with representatives of many other hospitals, institutions, and industries connected with proton therapy. I was honored to have been asked to be one of the speakers.

Panels and speakers covered a broad range of topics, including the current state and the future for proton therapy; the advantages of treating children with proton therapy; advancing the treatment of head and neck tumors, breast cancer, and central nervous system tumors. Other discussions included planning, developing, and launching a proton center, as well as new innovations in design, equipment, and engineering; patient engagement and advocacy; and much more. This month's BOB Tales summarizes a few sessions from the conference that should be of interest to our members.

The significant cost to build multi-treatment-room centers was discussed in detail, along with new developments in building lower cost single-room centers. Some are predicting that the future for proton technology is in the smaller, lower-cost, single-room proton centers.

Treating prostate cancer with protons was also a subject that received much attention at the conference. All participants understand the benefits, but they also acknowledged the challenges because of the higher initial cost. With some insurers refusing to pay for proton therapy for prostate cancer several proton centers noted they are treating fewer prostates than in the past and more head, neck, breast, spine, and pediatric tumors.

One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation of the result of the 2014 NAPT Proton Patient survey by Joan Dobson of Dobson/DaVanzo, the consultants who analyzed the data and produced the report. The BOB was well represented in the responses, and a summary of the survey results is in this month's newsletter. As you will see, disease-free survival is extremely high, 97 percent overall, as is quality-of-life after treatment. Proton patients are very happy with their treatment decision and overwhelmingly recommend proton therapy to others.

Overall, it was an excellent conference and the proton centers are working collaboratively for the good of the proton therapy movement and for the patients who will benefit from increased accessibility to proton treatment. I was encouraged with the tone of the meeting and the commitment of the participants to forge ahead, present the facts, and continue to promote proton therapy for what it is: An extraordinary healing technology that is doing much good today, with significant potential to cure many more cancers and other diseases in the future.

The entire National Proton Conference was videotaped and will be available soon on the NAPT website.

Bob Marckini

To print the BOB Tales newsletter or view the newsletter with a larger font size, click here for the PDF file.

  • 2014 survey results are in"results confirm proton benefits
  • NAPT celebrates 25th anniversary
  • 1989 Wall Street Journal"proton therapy boondoggle?
  • Substantial proton growth predicted for next decade
  • Obesity and prostate cancer"what's the connection?
  • Proton community endorses model insurance coverage policy for proton therapy
  • Happy former patient gives back
  • Bob's book #1 all-time best seller
  • Kick the dark colas; food and depression
  • Your shoes can tell your age

proton therapy bob members

We added 87 new members last month. We have members from all US states and 35 countries representing all operating proton centers in the U.S. as well as three proton centers in Europe and Asia.

2014 NAPT Proton Patient Survey Results

The National Association for Proton Therapy "NAPT" commissioned Dobson DaVanzo & Associates, a healthcare consulting firm, to investigate clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction among men treated with proton therapy for prostate cancer. They were asked to compare these results to those from a 2013 survey.

Survey Design

This latest survey was carefully designed by a team of clinicians and experts in the field. It incorporates questions from several validated survey instruments designed to capture information related to patients' satisfaction with their cancer treatment including the Assessment of Patient Experience of Cancer Care "APECC" developed by the National Cancer Institute, and the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems "CAHPS" Cancer Care Survey developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality "AHRQ". The Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite "EPIC" was also used to measure each patient's post-treatment health status. The survey was field tested with a group of proton therapy patients, including several BOB members, who provided valuable feedback that was incorporated into the final survey instrument.

The survey was designed to capture important information about disease-free survival as well as specific quality of life outcomes. Information was collected on patient demographics, pre-treatment conditions, why patients chose proton therapy, patient satisfaction, and much more.

Large Response"Excellent Patient Population Representation

In total, about 3,800 former patients from 12 proton centers responded to the survey. To put this in perspective, this is twice the number that responded to the last survey, with five additional proton centers represented. It represents approximately 17 percent of all patients who received proton therapy for prostate cancer over the past 24 years. Many who responded to this survey were treated 10, 15, and even 20 or more years ago. This is certainly an excellent representation of the prostate cancer proton population.

Almost 70 percent of respondents were college graduates. This is more than quadruple the national average for men in this age group, indicating that more highly educated men seem to research their treatment options more thoroughly and they tend to gravitate to proton therapy.

Key Findings

As in past surveys, patients continue to be extremely satisfied with their proton therapy treatment:

  • 98 percent believed they made the best treatment decision for themselves.
  • 96 percent have recommended proton therapy to others.
  • 98 percent rated their proton therapy as "excellent" "88 percent" or "good" "10 percent".
  • 96 percent were "satisfied" "15 percent" or "extremely satisfied" "81 percent" with their proton therapy treatment.
  • 85 percent reported their quality of life was "better than" "27 percent" or "the same as" "58 percent" before their treatment.
  • Those patients who received proton only "i.e. no additional photon or hormonal therapy" reported urinary, bowel, and sexual function outcomes consistent with a cancer-free control group that never had any treatment for prostate cancer. This is significant.

Perhaps most significant is the following:

  • Overall, 97 percent reported no recurrence of their prostate cancer. Slightly higher for those recently treated, and slightly lower for those treated 10 or more years ago.

According to the Dobson DaVanzo report, this compares favorably with a study of long-term outcomes with IMRT, where a study published in the Journal of Urology [176 "4":1415-1419] reported an 11 percent recurrence rate eight years after treatment.

As expected, those who received treatment beyond proton therapy, such as photon treatment or hormonal therapy had lower bowel, sexual, and hormonal health related quality of life "HRQOL" scores compared to those receiving only proton therapy, once again, supporting the fact that proton therapy does an outstanding job targeting the tumor volume and minimizing radiation to surrounding healthy tissue. This is also one more case for catching the disease early, because as prostate cancer progresses, more aggressive treatments are required to control the disease.

Why Did Respondents Choose Proton Therapy?

According to the survey, the most common reasons for choosing proton therapy over surgery, conventional radiation "IMRT", or brachytherapy "seeds" were fewer expected bowel side effects, sexual side effects, and urinary side effects.

Final Comment

In the past we have been critical of retrospective studies that used Medicare billing records over a one or two year period to draw conclusions on patient outcomes. These studies typically concluded that proton therapy was no better than IMRT. The above survey represents a large population of patients, treated at multiple proton centers, over a 24-year period. It is all patient-reported data, and it confirms what the science suggests, namely, if you increase the dose of radiation to the tumor and reduce the dose to healthy tissue, you can expect higher cure rates and fewer side effects.

View an excellent press release summarizing the 2014 survey.

NAPT Celebrates 25th Anniversary

In 1989, Len Arzt became the executive director of the newly established National Association for Proton Therapy "NAPT". Back then, there were no proton centers in the U.S., but Loma Linda University Medical Center's proton treatment center would open a year later.

This year is the 25th anniversary for NAPT, and much has happened in those 25 years. In last month's BOB Tales, we listed 15 proton centers in the U.S. with 13 more proton centers under construction or in the planning stages.


Len Arzt has been the tireless leader of the NAPT and the voice of proton therapy for 25 years. He seems to be on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Len is always available to help and to provide information, even when on vacation. And he has been a long-time friend of the Brotherhood of the Balloon.

At the NAPT conference last month, Len was honored by Proton Consortium board chairman Stuart Klein, NAPT board chairman, John Frick, and NAPT and Proton Consortium board member, Steven Jacobs. Stuart, John, and Steve presented Len with an inscribed plaque made from a large proton bolus and aperture, something we are sure Len will proudly display on his mantle at home.

Len plans on retiring at the end of 2014, and then consult to NAPT and the Proton Consortium for two more years. It's hard to think of the NAPT without Len. Maybe he'll change his mind and stay another 25 years.

Proton Therapy a Boondoggle?

Proton BOB WSJ

When Steve Jacobs was honoring Len Arzt for his 25 years of service at NAPT, he produced a 25-year-old Wall Street Journal newspaper, dated March 17, 1989. The front page article was titled, Off the Beam? Proton Device to Fight Cancer Is a Boondoggle"Or a Breakthrough.

At that time, the LLUMC proton center was under construction and the synchrotron was being tested at Fermilab "formerly the National Accelerator Laboratory", in Chicago, Illinois.

Were there proton skeptics in those days? Oh yes! While the theme of the article was generally positive, the opinions of the naysayers were peppered throughout. Here are a few examples of what the critics had to say:

Others, however, think the proton accelerator is a white elephant. They complain that its untested medical benefits and enormous price make it the ultimate example of medical technology run amok. Some doctors say proton therapy will prove useless in the treatment of most cancers.

… It is unquestionably the most expensive piece of medical equipment ever built.

… I can't understand why the hell they built this ridiculous unit, said Dr. Joseph Imperato, a radiation oncologist and assistant professor at the Northwestern University Medical School. It's a great physics project, but some of the medical claims are lunatic. Dr. Imperato also said, If my administrator came to me tomorrow and asked me if he should spend $20 million to get one, I'd say to him, ‘You're crazy, out of your mind. It's a waste of money.'

The article also quoted Thomas DeLaney, branch chief and senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute: The effort should be supported, but I think the number of machines necessary is small. We should have them, just like aircraft carriers, but that doesn't mean every state should have one.

Dr. James Slater was quoted in the article: "It's the most complicated machine ever used in a hospital setting by far." He also noted that he expected to be able to treat 100 patients a day and 1,000 to 2,000 patients annually. And, Dr. Slater projected"to the astonishment of his critics"that the U.S. will someday have 100 proton centers with the cost of the centers falling to $10 million.

Was Dr. Slater a visionary or was he delusional? Let's see: Today, 25 years later, there are 15 proton centers in the U.S. with 13 more under construction or in planning stages. The number of proton centers under development is growing exponentially. More than two dozen proton centers have been built in Europe and Asia. And more and more hospitals in the U.S. are looking into establishing proton treatment centers. An article in Digital Journal abstracted in this month's BOB Tales, predicts a substantial growth in proton treatment facilities in the next decade.

New proton center designs, presented at the NAPT conference last month are showing costs of $20 to $30 million for one-room facilities. Interestingly, adjusting for inflation, $10 million in 1989 would be equivalent to $20 million today.

And, regarding the number of patients treated, Loma Linda routinely treats more than 100 patients a day and more than 1,000 patients annually. Tens of thousands of patients have benefited from proton therapy thanks to Dr. Slater's pioneering work.

A boondoggle? Medical technology run amok? A visionary or delusional? You be the judge.

Substantial Proton Growth Predicted
for Next Decade

Digital Journal reported on April 3, 2104, that there is considerable growing interest in proton therapy in the radiation oncology community and it is predicting "substantial growth in proton treatment facilities during the next decade." And even though proton therapy represents less than one percent of the radiation therapy delivered in the U.S., the market, in 2013, was in double digit billion U.S. dollars. Once again, it looks like Dr. James Slater was correct on his prediction 25 years ago.

Obesity and Prostate Cancer

Proton BOB Obesity and Prostate Cancer

Men whose tumors contain a specific genetic mutation are associated with a worse prostate cancer prognosis if they are obese. In fact, they had more than a 50% increased risk of dying from cancer after diagnosis than normal-weight men.

About two-thirds of the adult male population in the U.S. is overweight or obese. Previous studies showed these men were more likely to have a worse prognosis after being diagnosed with prostate cancer than normal-weight men, but little was known about the mechanisms of how obesity was linked with prostate cancer or whether specific subgroups of patients were more susceptible to the effects of obesity.

A new study led by the Harvard School of Public Health "HSPH", Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers, is the first to link data on obesity, tumor genetics, and cancer-specific survival in prostate cancer patients.

Researchers analyzed data on body mass index "BMI", waist circumference, and a marker for the hormonally regulated genetic mutation TMPRSS2:ERG from 1,243 participants. Over the course of a follow-up period averaging 13 years, 119 men developed a lethal form of the disease.

One in two men with prostate cancer had tumors that were positive for the common genetic mutation TMPRSS2:ERG. The authors found that men whose tumors contained the TMPRSS2:ERG genetic mutation also had higher levels of the receptors for insulin and growth factor in their tumors. This finding may explain why men whose prostate tumors contain the genetic mutation would be more susceptible to the effects of obesity.

The researchers found that among these men with prostate cancer whose tumors had the mutation, those who were overweight or obese had a more than 50% increased risk of dying from cancer after diagnosis than normal-weight men. The effect was even stronger for obesity as measured by waist circumference. In contrast, for those men whose tumors were negative for the genetic mutation, there was no effect of obesity on cancer survival.

"More than 100,000 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with prostate cancer that harbors this common gene mutation. Given the high prevalence of obesity among men, this excess risk of lethal prostate cancer associated with obesity is a considerable public health issue," said senior author Lorelei Mucci, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH.

The study was published online November 30, 2013, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

U.S. Proton Community Endorses Model Insurance Coverage Policy for Proton Beam Therapy

The U.S. proton community, consisting of 15 operating centers across the country as well as those currently in development, recently released a model insurance coverage policy for treating patients with proton beam therapy.

"It is our hope that by endorsing a list of clinical indications supported by the scientific literature, the insurance community will be better informed about proton beam radiation and adopt this model coverage policy as their own, using it as a guide for proton therapy procedures. We also hope our model policy serves as an educational tool for the broader oncology community," said Dr. Eugen Hug, president of PTCOG-NA and Chief Medical Officer at ProCure Treatment Centers.

The new Model Policy represents the clinical perspective of leading U.S. cancer treatment centers offering proton therapy as well as several other treatment options. It updates a similar insurance coverage policy that was recently advanced by the Medicare program for patients in numerous states and for certain Blue Cross Blue Shield plan members. It is also based on over 20 years of clinical experience supported by peer-reviewed scientific literature from around the world.

Commenting on the newly announced model policy, Leonard Arzt, executive director of the National Association for Proton Therapy, said: "Cancer patients should be fully informed of all treatment options and should have access to the best choice when it comes to their quality of life. And they should be given that right by their insurance providers."

On Our Radar: Tennessee HB264"
Insurers Paying for Proton Therapy

Proton BOB Insurers Paying for proton

Tennessee House Bill 264, originally dealing with dental service payments, was expanded to include verbiage that insurers in Tennessee must pay for proton treatment when prescribed by a physician, although there were several exceptions. Sponsored by both a democrat and a republican, the bill stirred up quite a lot of controversy. Olympic gold medal figure skater Scott Hamilton, a cancer survivor, appeared before lawmakers to endorse the bill. Read more about the bill.

Member Feedback

A new member excitedly reported his latest PSA:

My PSA of 7.6 dropped to 0.9 at my 4-month check-up. My only side effect so far is that, after working on the farm all day in the extreme Michigan cold this winter, when I get in the house for dinner and it's warm, I fall asleep. I have since talked to two local men who have prostate cancer about Loma Linda. I even told one guy, 'I'd trade prostates with you if I could and go to Loma Linda again. '

Three Years Post-Proton;
Exploring Rainforests of Borneo

Ingo Jeve of Windsor, California, was treated with proton therapy for his prostate cancer at Loma Linda University Medical Center in 2011.

How is Ingo spending his time now? He's exploring the rainforests of Borneo; befriending orangutans; and making plans to visit Phuket, Thailand, for some more adventures. Ingo says, "Thanks to proton treatment, I'm doing very well, considering I was a Gleason 9 … Proton therapy has given me a new lease on life."

Proton BOB Member, Ingo Jeve



Putting Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

When Frank Freda completed his proton treatment last year, he and his wife, Alida, made a $1,000 gift to LLUH for proton research, and they then committed to send an additional $1,000 for every point drop in Frank's PSA. Their story was in our December BOB Tales. This month we received the following e-mail from them:

We are pleased to announce another success story. As mentioned in the December BOB Tales, my PSA alarm went off at 6.04. And thanks to proton therapy, my PSA reading has dropped to 1.31. As promised, we are donating $1,000 for every point drop. So, an additional $4,000 is on its way to the Robert J. Marckini Chair for Proton Research. And we are thrilled to learn that the Sequoia Foundation is doubling our total gift.

We feel privileged to have enjoyed the successful benefit of proton therapy at Loma Linda University Medical Center with no side effects, during or after. It is also worth noting that Bob Marckini's book created this special network of information. All of the positive testimonials from BOB members were what convinced us that proton therapy was the way to go.

Just imagine if all 7,000 Brotherhood of the Balloon members donated $1,000 for every point drop in their PSA? We are forever thankful as we donate for the benefit of proton research. We hope more BOB members will follow.

Matching Gift Promises to Double Yours

Don't forget: The founder of the Sequoia Foundation for Achievement in Culture and Education is encouraging fellow BOB members to match a $25,000 challenge grant. The foundation will match gifts of $1,000 or more to the Robert J. Marckini Chair, up to a total of $25,000, until December 31, 2014. Please consider taking this opportunity to double the impact of your gift!

If you are inspired to give or have questions about the various ways to support proton research efforts, please contact Aaron Laudenslager in the Office of Philanthropy at 909-558-3581 or

You may also contribute by check. Just make your check out to "LLUMC Proton," specify Robert J. Marckini Chair in the memo, and mail it to: Loma Linda University Medical Center, Office of Philanthropy, P.O. Box 2000, Loma Linda, CA 92354.

Or, donate online. Specify Robert J. Marckini Chair under "Designations."

To learn about naming Loma Linda University Health in your will or trust, please contact the Office of Planned Giving at (909) 558-4553 or


Be Kind to Your Kidneys"
Kick the Dark Colas

Drinking 16 ounces or more of dark colas daily "whether diet or regular" doubles your risk of chronic kidney disease, according to an NIH study of more than 900 people. It is the phosphoric acid in dark colas that has been associated with urinary changes that promote kidney stones.

Critics of the study contend that it is not solely a result of the ingredients in sodas, but that soda drinkers often do not drink enough water throughout the day.

Conclusion: when drinking carbonated beverages, the citrus type "such as 7-Up or Sprite" or ginger ale drinks are less risky. Other beverages high in phosphorus include hot chocolate and beer. Your kidneys will thank you for moderating your intake of beverages high in phosphoric acid.

Food and Depression

Proton BOB Food and Depression recently ran a couple of related articles about how the foods you eat can trigger depression or stop depression. Because mental health is integral to your physical health, your food selections will have an impact on your whole body.

Foods That Can Trigger Depression

  • Foods with High Pesticide Residue: Foods that are grown with heavy pesticide use can be detrimental to mood and well-being. Most foods grown with pesticides are found in the fruit and vegetable section of the grocery store.
  • Sugary Foods That Spike Blood Glucose Levels: While sugary foods may bring comfort and short bursts of energy, the downside to eating sweets is that blood glucose levels initially spike and then plummet, causing excessive fatigue and leaving you feeling worse than before you indulged.
  • Fat-Free Foods Loaded with Sodium: Eating fat-free foods may be better for maintaining healthy weight, but they can also be loaded with excess sodium used to preserve their freshness. While some sodium is necessary to maintain health and prevent both nutritional and neurological imbalances, too much of a good thing can cause depression or add to depression related to chronic disease due to a rocky immune system response and general fatigue.
  • Alcoholic Beverages: Alcohol is a known central nervous system depressant that can cause otherwise healthy individuals to fall into clinical depression.
  • Diets Containing Gluten: In some instances, depression can be attributable to gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are complicated gastrointestinal disorders known to influence mood.

Foods that Can Stop Depression

Proton BOB Food that can stop depression

  • Fruits and Vegetables: According to the Mayo Clinic, a nutritious, fiber-rich diet based on foods such as fruits and vegetables might substantially reduce the risk for depression. To improve depressive symptoms, incorporate a variety of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis.
  • Vitamin B-rich Foods: According to natural health expert, Dr. Andrew Weil, B vitamins, B6 and folic acid in particular, contribute to mood balance and can help treat depression.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy, essential fats the body can't produce on its own. Dr. Weil suggests omega-3 fats as a means of creating a healthy state of mind and improving both physical and emotional wellness for those with depression.

Bob's book is still in the #3 position on Amazon's list of 26,350 books on prostate cancer. There are three new reader reviews this month and 185 in total"more than any other book in the top 50. Here's what one reader had to say:

Amazon 5 Stars for You Can Beat Prostate Cancer

Reading his book is a MUST! "Ruthie Corliss

My husband was diagnosed with early prostate cancer in October 2013. We were given the book by a long time friend who, himself, had gone to Loma Linda 15 years earlier for proton therapy. We read the book several times and it clinched the treatment decision for us. It was a "no-brainer." Thank you, Bob … we went to Loma Linda for the 45 treatments and had a wonderful time.

#1 All-time Best Seller at Lulu Press

Lulu Press is one of the leading self-publishing, print-on-demand companies in the world. They are headquartered in North Carolina and they service 225 countries and territories. They currently support more than 1.6 million active book titles. Lulu notified us last month that Bob's book is now their #1 all-time best-seller.

Visit the "You Can Beat Prostate Cancer" product page on the Lulu Press website.

Did you find Bob's book helpful?

Please help us to spread the word and educate others about proton therapy. If you found Bob's book to be helpful in making your proton treatment decision, please post a review on Amazon.

Once you are logged into your Amazon account, click here and click the "Create your own review" button. NOTE: Reviews can be just a few sentences"it only takes a few minutes. And, don't forget to rate the book from 1 to 5 stars!

Don't have an Amazon account? No problem. Sign up here"it's free.

Available in Amazon's Kindle format, Barnes & Noble's NOOK Book, and Apple iBook format

Buy the Kindle version now for $9.99.

Don't have a Kindle? No problem"just download the free Kindle reading software for your smart phone or tablet.

Buy the NOOK Book version now for $9.99.

Don’t have a NOOK? No problem. Just download the free NOOK reading app for your Android smart phone, tablet, or iDevice.

Buy the book from the iTunes store for $9.99 for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch in iBook format.

The hard copy version of You Can Beat Prostate Cancer is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and LuLu Press.

Proceeds from book sales are used to help fund BOB efforts and to support proton therapy research.

Ask about our bulk discount for hard copy books for anyone interested in spreading the word about proton therapy:

One More Reason to Choose Proton

A 2013 report in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed the records of thousands of breast cancer patients who received X-ray treatments to their left breast. The report found these women developed a higher risk for heart disease, which was directly related to the volume of the heart that was irradiated during treatment.

When the left breast is treated with protons, there is virtually no dose to the heart. Here is just one more reason to choose proton therapy.

Messing with Your Mind

In each BOB Tales for the next five months we'll show you one of these optical illusions that mess with your mind. Here's the first one:

The rod in the middle does not exist …

messing with your mind



Special Series:
Did You Know THIS About Your Body?

The human body is a treasure trove of mysteries, one that still confounds doctors and scientists about the details of its working. It's not an overstatement to say that every part of your body is a miracle. Last month, we gave you five interesting facts about your body. Below are five more"again, most will surprise you.

proton bob arrow A human head remains conscious for about 15 to 20 seconds after it has been decapitated.
proton bob arrow It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown.
proton bob arrow Humans can go longer without food than sleep. Provided there is water, humans, on average, can survive a month to two months without food depending on their body fat and other factors. Sleep-deprived people, however, start experiencing radical personality and psychological changes after only a few sleepless days. The longest recorded time anyone has ever gone without sleep is 11 days, at the end of which the experimenter was awake, but stumbled over words, hallucinated and frequently forgot what he was doing.
proton bob arrow The most common blood type in the world is Type O. The rarest blood type, A-H or Bombay blood, due to the location of its discovery, has been found in less than a hundred people since it was discovered.
proton bob arrow Every human spent about half an hour after being conceived, as a single cell. Shortly afterward, the cells begin rapidly dividing and begin forming the components of a tiny embryo.

Next month, we'll end this series by posting the final five interesting facts about the human body.

Last Month's Brain Teaser: Surviving the Fire

Alexander is stranded on an island covered in forest.

One day, when the wind is blowing from the west, lightning strikes the west end of the island and sets fire to the forest. The fire is very violent, burning everything in its path, slowly moving from west to east, and without intervention the fire will burn the whole island, killing the man in the process.

There are cliffs around the island, so he cannot jump off.

How can Alexander survive the fire? "There are no buckets or any other means to put out the fire."

Answer: Alexander picks up a piece of wood and lights it from the fire on the west end of the island. He then quickly carries it near the east end of the island and starts a new fire. The wind will cause the fire to burn out the eastern end of the island and he can then shelter in the burned-out area.

Proton BOB Ross Howard

Ross Howard of New South Wales, Australia, was the first to submit the correct answer to last month's brain teaser. Ross is in his early 50s, runs a building company and enjoys working full time. He describes his favorite hobby as visiting his two grandchildren in Dayton, Ohio "the photo shows Ross with his grandson when his family was "visiting down under" recently". Ross and his wife, Angela, have four children.

Ross was treated with proton therapy at Loma Linda in 2005. "My health is good," Ross says. "My PSA remains well under 1." Ross has bought several of Bob's books to give out to friends and family.

Congratulations, Ross! Your signed book is on the way.

New Brain Teaser: Clever Woman

Joan was sleeping in her apartment when suddenly a robber broke into her house. He asked her to stay quiet and started looting the cash and jewelry. Suddenly the landline phone started ringing. The robber pointed his gun at Joan and ordered her to pick up the phone across the room and talk without giving away the situation.

She picked up the phone and it happened to be her husband. She spoke, "Is it an emergency darling? Please give me a call when your flight lands. For dinner, I am preparing your favorite meal that will help you relieve the stress." Then she hung up the phone.

Ten minutes later, the police arrived at the scene and caught the robber.

How did the police know about the robbery?

Answer next month: The first to send an e-mail to with the correct answer will receive a signed copy of Bob's book. No cheating by using the Internet!

The Haircut

A teenage boy had just passed his driving test and inquired of his father as to when they could discuss his use of the car.

His father said he'd make a deal with his son: "You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible, and get your hair cut. Then we'll talk about the car."

The boy thought about that for a moment, decided he'd settle for the offer, and they agreed on it. After about six weeks his father said, "Son, you've brought your grades up and I've observed that you have been studying your Bible, but I'm disappointed you haven't had your hair cut."

The boy said, "You know, Dad, I've been thinking about that, and I've noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair … and there's even strong evidence that Jesus had long hair."

You're going to love the Dad's reply:

"Son, did you also notice they all walked everywhere they went?"

Your Shoes Can Tell You Your Age!

This is mind boggling. Try this and see:

  1. Take your shoe size "only whole sizes"
  2. Multiply it by 5
  3. Add 50
  4. Multiply by 20
  5. Add 1013
  6. Subtract the year you were born

The first one or two digit"s" is your shoe size and the last 2 digits are your age.

Quote of the Month

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the
things we did not do that is inconsolable.

"Sidney J. Harris

You Can Help Set the Record Straight
on Protons

"Ignorance is always afraid of change." The opening quotation for this month's BOB Tales certainly relates to what is going on in the arena of treating prostate cancer with protons. Opposition is often masked by the claim that proton costs more, but hasn't been proven to be better than other treatments. This opposition is usually from practitioners of competing prostate cancer treatment modalities. Quoting from Shakespeare's Hamlet, "Methinks thou dost protest too much."

One member sent us a copy of a letter that was apparently mass-mailed by a medical practice from a state where a proton center recently opened. The letter was postured as an objective evaluation of proton therapy for prostate cancer. It was anything but. It reported that studies show proton is no better than other treatments for prostate cancer and that proton patients are "more likely to suffer gastrointestinal side effects than those treated with traditional radiotherapy." It went on to discredit proton therapy in other ways as well. We suspect they never bothered to read any of the many studies that show the benefits of proton therapy. Next month, as an example, we will report on a recent study that showed disease control for early and mid-stage prostate cancer patients at 99 percent at five years vs. 84 percent at five years for surgery.

The BOB is a group of 7,000 men who have chosen proton therapy for their prostate cancer. The most recent survey shows extremely high cure rates, high quality of life after treatment, and exceptional satisfaction with treatment outcome. One of our members wrote to us and said, "I chose proton therapy because it's the only treatment option with a fan club." One has to ask the question, "Are there other groups of men that have banded together to cheer about and promote surgery, IMRT, or seeds?" The answer is "no" … and for obvious reasons.

What can our members do to set the record straight? A lot. We encourage you to speak out in your communities about your treatment experience. Tell your friends and neighbors about proton therapy for prostate cancer. If you are comfortable speaking to groups, we encourage you to get a copy of our PowerPoint presentation and speak to men's groups in your communities. This presentation addresses the subject of prostate cancer prevention and detection; it summarizes the pros and cons of each major treatment option; and it covers proton therapy in some detail. The presentation comes with speakers' notes and can easily be tailored to fit your audience. To get a copy, contact Deb Hickey at

Finally, we encourage you to save this issue of BOB Tales and share it with friends who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and are evaluating their treatment options. That's a great way to introduce them to proton therapy.

Low PSAs to all,

Bob Marckini and Deb Hickey

You can download this month's BOB Tales in PDF format to your computer by "right-clicking" ("control-clicking" on Mac) and going to the "Save Target As… " option on the menu that pops up.

NO MEDICAL ADVICE: Material appearing here represents opinions offered by non-medically-trained laypersons. Comments shown here should NEVER be interpreted as specific medical advice and must be used only as background information when consulting with a qualified medical professional.