By protonbob - May 29, 2015

Dear Members:

Reflecting on the opening quotation, the proton community has come together and is cooperating like never before. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the third annual National Proton Conference in Washington D.C. A meeting of the Proton Consortium and the National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT) preceded the conference on March 30. The conference ran from March 31 through April 2, 2015 at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City.

As more proton centers open and new centers are planned, interest in this important annual event grows. This year there were more than 250 participants from around the world, including clinical and administrative representatives from all proton centers in the U.S. and some overseas, representatives of several institutions that are planning proton centers, individuals representing industries connected with proton therapy, and representatives from other interested organizations and agencies including the National Cancer Institute, private medical insurers, CancerCare, and Kids ‘n’ Cancer UK.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Wyatt Decker, Vice President, Mayo Clinic and CEO Mayo Clinic, Arizona. Mayo Clinic has made a major investment in proton therapy, building proton centers in Rochester, MN and Phoenix, AZ. Dr. Decker acknowledged the critical roles played by Loma Linda University Health and Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital in bringing proton therapy to the forefront. He said, “They saw the potential role of proton therapy when others were doubtful. They were the pioneers.”

Dr. Decker noted that Mayo Clinic takes its role in the medical community very seriously and always want to be a part of leading-edge medical technology. “We studied proton therapy for eight years. We followed the data,” he said, “and the time had come.” Mayo Clinic is investing $368 million in two proton centers, but they had a little help … a $100 million gift from one donor! “Proton has so much to offer, and all cancer patients should have access to proton therapy if it is their best option,” Dr. Decker said. He further stated, “This therapy is proven and should be paid for by third-party groups. The best interest of the patient is the only interest.”

In summary, the conference covered many topics including new perspectives on proton therapy and evidence development; a clinical overview of proton research; insurance coverage and reimbursement; optimizing the proton therapy process—tackling the challenges; advances in proton science and technology; refocusing the conversation—sending our message; and the future of proton technology—a global perspective.

I was asked to be part of a panel and spoke on the subject of how the Brotherhood of the Balloon builds alliances with the cancer community. My talk and all the others from the conference will be available on the NAPT website within the next two weeks.

I have attended all three conferences, and this one was, by far, the best yet. It was well organized, well attended, and participants were fully engaged. I’m encouraged that the future of proton therapy is bright, especially with the level of cooperation, and the quality of institutions and individuals who have banded together to support the proton movement and ensure proton therapy is available to those who can benefit from it.

Other matters: You will read in this month’s BOB Tales a story about how our brothers in Oklahoma scored another victory in their ongoing effort to level the playing field on proton reimbursement for prostate cancer in that state. We also have new information about developments in proton therapy and new centers coming.

We had hoped to go live with our new website by now, but we are behind schedule. Deb Hickey is working daily with developers and designers and we hope to launch the new website before the end of May.

As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions for future newsletters. Just send an email to

Bob Marckini


We have more than 7,500 members from all U.S. states and 39 countries. Members represent all operating proton centers in the U.S. as well as four proton centers in Europe and Asia.

In this Issue:

  • Oklahoma Senate approves proton therapy bill
  • Oregon negative on proton therapy coverage
  • Study shows proton superior to x-rays in treating breast cancer
  • SBRT (CyberKnife) for prostate cancer may result in more complications
  • Ashya King is cancer-free, according to parents
  • Miami Cancer Institute building proton center
  • Diagnosed at 45: “I was shocked!”
  • Communicating the proton experience to the cancer community and beyond
  • Can you take too much Vitamin D?
  • Too much sleep linked
    to stroke risk

Oklahoma Senate Approves Proton Therapy Bill!

Last month we reported that our friends in Oklahoma won an important battle when HB 515 was unanimously approved by the state House of Representatives by a vote of 97 to 0. This bill prohibits health insurance companies from requiring a higher level of evidence for proton therapy than for other forms of radiation therapy. BOB members were among other proton supporters in the galleries when the vote was taken.

Since that House victory, the Oklahoma State Senate voted 36 to 9 in favor of the bill. The next step is for the bill to be signed by the Governer. Hopefully this will happen within the next two weeks. The bill goes into effect in November, but hopefully, insurance companies will begin to cover proton therapy for prostate cancer in Oklahoma before then. 

Oregon Takes Unfavorable Stance on Proton Therapy

The Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) in the state of Oregon has posted a draft policy that recommends against coverage for proton therapy for treating adult malignant brain and spinal tumors, pediatric malignant tumors, bone, head, neck, esophagus, liver, lung, and prostate cancers as well as any other cancerous or non-cancerous conditions. The only area where HERC recommends coverage is for malignant ocular tumors.

Representing the proton community, the National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT) posted its objection to the draft proposal during the open comment period—which ended March 30, 2015—citing numerous studies showing the benefits and cost effectiveness of proton therapy for the tumor sites in question. Representatives of the proton community have requested meetings with HERC and Oregon State officials to discuss this issue.

There may be a role our membership can play in this process. Please stay tuned.

Study Shows Proton Superior to X-rays in Treating Breast Cancer

Nearly all of the medical community agrees that conventional photon (X-ray) radiation for breast cancer can be cardiotoxic―it can damage the heart, particularly when the cancer is in the left breast. A new, multidisciplinary study at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston followed 31 women who were treated with proton therapy for their breast cancer. Results were reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.


“Proton radiotherapy did not impact echo measures of LV (left ventricle) function or cause a rise in biomarkers of heart failure suggesting lack of significant acute subclinical cardiotoxicity, supporting the potential benefits of proton therapy compared to conventional radiotherapy.”

Multiple studies, focusing on different tumor sites, have come to similar conclusions. The unique properties of proton therapy to release most of the radiation at the tumor volume without damaging healthy surrounding tissue make it a superb treatment modality.

SBRT (CyberKnife) for Prostate Cancer May Result in More Complications

We are often contacted by newly diagnosed men who have narrowed their treatment choices down to two or three options. Often, one of these options is CyberKnife, a treatment that uses large doses of photon (X-ray) radiation over a period of five days. Very little long-term data has been published on CyberKnife.

We recently came across an article from Urology News, titled “SBRT (CyberKnife) for Prostate Cancer May Result in More Complications.” SBRT stands for Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy. The article reports on a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology which followed patients treated with either IMRT or CyberKnife. The CyberKnife-treated patients had significantly more genitourinary toxicity than the IMRT patients at six months and 24 months after treatment initiation. Other side effects experienced by the CyberKnife patients included higher levels of urethritis, urinary incontinence and urinary obstruction.

The advantages of CyberKnife are the lower cost of five treatments versus 35 or more for IMRT, and the convenience of having the treatment completed in less than a week.

This study, however, points out the fact that exposing healthy tissue to radiation can, and often does result in debilitating side effects. Since proton therapy deposits the least amount of radiation on healthy tissue, one would expect it should produce the fewest number of side effects.

Ashya King is Cancer-free, According to Parents

You may recall the story of Ashya King, the 5-year-old boy with brain cancer in the UK, whose parents were jailed for taking him out of the hospital and bringing him to the Czech Republic to be treated with proton therapy.

Today, several months later, Ashya’s parents have told the media their son’s cancer is in total remission. They also said that if they had left him in the hospital in the UK to be treated with standard radiotherapy, they don’t think he would be alive today.

This story has brought much attention to proton therapy in the UK where they are building three proton centers, with rumors that two more are in the planning stages. If this happens, the UK will have one proton center for every 12 million people. Today, the U.S. with 14 proton centers has one center for every 23 million people.

Read the latest story on Ashya King and watch a video. 

Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida Building New Proton Treatment Center

Construction of the facility began last summer and is scheduled for completion in 2016. The proton center is part of a $430 million project at the South Florida facility.

Pacific Northwest BOB Reunion and Golf Event, Newberg, Oregon

When: Thursday, June 11, 2015 | Golf first tee time: 10:00 a.m. | Dinner & Reunion: Doors open at 5:30 p.m. (Dinner at 6:30 p.m.) 

Where: Golf: Chehalem Glenn Golf Course, 4501 E. Fernwood Road, Newberg | Dinner & Reunion: Portland Adventist Medical Center, Education Center “A” 10123 S.E. Market St., Portland

Details: The golf event is not a tournament—it’s just for fun. The cost is $40/player; this includes 18 holes with a power cart. The event is open to all BOB members and their guests. The dinner/reunion will feature a program by Dr. Lynn Martell, D.Min, Director of Special Services at Loma Linda University Health. The full buffet, including two vegetarian entrees, salad, and dessert, is $17/person.

RSVP: Download, print, and fill out registration forms for the dinner and golf event (Payment for golf may be included with dinner payment). Mail your registration(s) with payment no later than June 1, 2015. Checks should be made out to: Gary D. Brown with “BOB Event” in the memo and mailed to: Gary D. Brown, 115 Nicholas Way, Newberg, OR 97132-2353. For more information, if
you need assistance with registration, or if you have questions, email Gary at or call 503-538-8885.

Recap: Proton Patient/BOB Member Reunion, Albuquerque, NM

About 25 people, including former proton patients, spouses, children, and Loma Linda University Health staff members, attended a proton patient and BOB member reunion on March 8th at the Sandia Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, NM. The event was hosted by BOB member, Don Blanton and his wife, Connie. Among LLUH faculty were Dr. J. Lynn Martell, D.Min, Director of Special Services, and Matt Miller, a Senior Development Officer.

Dr. Martell gave a presentation on LLUH’s Vision 2020 and shared some of the thrilling insights as to what is happening with this $1.2 billion dollar transformation of the campus. He indicated that over $175 million has already been committed toward the $360 million goal. He also gave an update on some of the current proton therapy clinical trials including pancreatic, esophageal, and breast cancer, which is in the second five-year phase.

Attendees enjoyed interacting with each other as well as speaking with newly diagnosed men who attended the event. Dr. Martell said, “These get-togethers are critically important to keep former patients connected with each other and their treatment facility; they also provide an excellent venue for recently diagnosed men to learn more about proton therapy as a potential treatment option.”

Diagnosed at 45: “I was shocked!”

For Charles Stohrer, receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer on February 9, 2014, was a rude, unpleasant surprise.

“I was shocked!” he recalls. “I didn’t have any symptoms, I was in great shape and all of a sudden, there was this test that said I had cancer.”

Stohrer didn’t know what to think. The 45-year-old senior design manager and athlete was in the prime of his life.

“What bothered me the most was that this happened at such a young age,” he remembers. “My uncle got prostate and testicular cancer, but he was much older than I. I sort of always expected I might get it, but not at 45.”

His urologist encouraged him to have surgery, so Stohrer scheduled the operation. Later that day, he sent out an email to several of his closest friends. “Pray for me,” he asked. “I have prostate cancer.”

All his friends were encouraging, but two of them were especially supportive. The first was Laura, Charles’ girlfriend. “She was very supportive,” Charles says. “She kept telling me we were going to get through this together.” Coincidentally, Laura’s father was diagnosed with prostate cancer two weeks later. Needless to say, the two men suddenly had a lot to talk about.

The second was a close friend of Stohrer’s from Santa Monica, CA. “His father had gone to Loma Linda University Cancer Center for proton therapy 14 years prior,” he recalls. “He sent me a link to their website and some of their videos.” Stohrer liked what he saw.

“I bought a plane ticket three days after that,” he says. “My surgery was scheduled for March 6, but I canceled it.”

Stohrer was able to work out every day during his treatment. The busy executive was also able to work remotely for his company in Michigan. He also enjoyed time with his girlfriend who flew to Southern California and spent 10 days with Charles during the sixth week of his 10-week treatment program.

Two days after his course of therapy ended, Stohrer turned 46. Four months later, his doctor ordered another PSA test. “We were hoping it might have dropped
30 to 50 percent,” he says. Since his initial PSA score had been 4.06, he would have been happy to receive a post-treatment reading in the neighborhood of 2.84 to 2.03.

“We beat it by a long shot,” Stohrer says, beaming. “When the score came back, it was 1.56.”

Read the full article.

BOB Comment:  Charles sent us an update last month. His latest PSA reading is 1.29. “It’s going the right way!” Charles said.

Communicating the Proton Experience to the Cancer Community and Beyond

Our members “pay it forward” in so many ways—from forwarding our monthly newsletter to friends and family to sending Bob Marckini’s book to a newly diagnosed friend; from writing “letters to the editor” supporting and promoting proton therapy to helping in the fight for insurance carriers to cover proton therapy; from using our PowerPoint presentation to educate a crowd to simply having a conversation about their treatment experience—our group is making huge strides to educate others about the benefits of proton therapy for prostate cancer.You are making a difference!

Member Books

Several of our members have written books chronicling their experience of proton treatment. Others mention their prostate cancer journey and proton therapy within their book. And one of our member’s significant other wrote a book and mentioned proton therapy in it. This is an extraordinary way our members are communicating their proton experience to the cancer community and beyond. All of the books are available on Amazon.

They’re Still Giving

You see the name Ron Hendricks in many of our newsletters. He is Director of Gift Planning for Trinity Western University and a devoted BOB member. He regularly copies us on his “News from Ron” mailings, which are helpful hints to the readers of his newsletters. Since we have found Ron’s suggestions to be timely and beneficial, we have begun to share them in our newsletters with his permission. We started in March in our Odds and Ends section with “Estate Planning Hints,” and posted another story with the same title in last month’s newsletter. We will continue to do so in future issues, including this one, and we also wanted to put Ron in a different sort of spotlight. 

We wrote about Ron and his wife, Karen, in our Giving Back section in 2013 when they decided to remember Loma Linda University Health in their estate plan. The couple journeyed more than 1,200 miles from their home in the northwestern corner of Washington State to Loma Linda University Cancer Center when Ron was diagnosed with prostate cancer. They weren’t sure what to expect, but liked what they found once they arrived. “Proton treatment changed my life,” Ron said. “I had never seen such compassion and care.”

Ron and Karen have also begun making a monthly gift to LLUH. Ron told us, “Karen and I truly believe that our monthly gift to LLUH is making a difference in people’s lives and, hopefully, our estate gift will help sustain the proton program that was so very significant in our lives.”

Funding the Future of Proton: Planned Gifts

Loma Linda is a very important part of our lives. We wanted to leave a legacy here that will make a difference by changing lives in the future. - Dr. Lynn Martell

How to Support Proton Research

Make a Future Gift:

Contact Todd Mekelburg at the Office of Planned Giving at Loma Linda University Health at 909-558-4553 or email

Donate to the Marckini Chair:

  • Send a check made out to “LLUCC Proton” to Loma Linda University Health, Office of Philanthropy, P.O. Box 2000, Loma Linda, CA 92354. Memo line: “Marckini Chair.”
  • Donate online or call Elvia DeHaro at 909-558-5010. 

Other Ways to Give:

Contact Matt Miller at the Office of Philanthropy at Loma Linda University Health at 909-558-3284 or email

Can You Take Too Much Vitamin D?

We have reported many health benefits from taking Vitamin D, including helping to prevent prostate cancer. But too much Vitamin D may also cause problems. Here’s an email we received from BOB member and physician Herb Klein:

I read the BOB Tales regularly with great interest. I was drawn to the story titled, “High Vitamin D Levels May Increase Cancer Survival Rates.” Vitamin D has been an interest of mine, and you may recall that I contributed something about it some years back. After some digging, I found the abstract of the paper mentioned.

Short of paying for the full paper, I could not infer the actual levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D that the different quartiles had. The lowest quartile may have been very low indeed.

The point that I want to make is that it is becoming increasingly apparent that with Vitamin D it is not always “the more the better.” Many studies regarding mortality and various diseases have disclosed a U- or J-shaped curve where outcomes are worse, not only at the low end but also at the high end.

What is an optimum level is still unresolved—probably somewhere in the 30-60 ng/ml range. Personally, I am striving for 40-50. This matter is discussed in the editorial from the same journal as the cited study.

150 Minutes a Week

According to Bottom Line Publications, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that adults need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, along with muscle-strengthening activities at least two times a week.

If that seems like a lot, it’s about the same amount of time you might spend watching a movie or vegging out in front of your TV in the evening.

Read more about physical activity and health in this CDC report.

Too Much Sleep Linked to Stroke Risk: Who Would Have Guessed?

According to a study published in the Journal Neurology last month, adults who sleep more than eight hours a night may face an increased risk of having a stroke. “Long sleepers,” as they are called, were 46 percent more likely to have a stroke than adults who got only six to eight hours of sleep each day. Researchers are not sure whether the long sleep is a cause or a consequence of declining brain health.

Series: Top 20 Most Common Health Questions

Last summer, we began a series on the top 20 most common health questions (and answers) from Business Insider Magazine. Here is another question from that list.

Are all wheat breads better for you than white bread?

Short answer: No. Not all wheat breads are created equal. Wheat breads that contain all parts of the grain kernel, including the nutrient-rich germ and fiber-dense bran, must be labeled “whole grain” or “whole wheat.” Some wheat breads are just white bread with a little bit of caramel coloring to make the bread appear healthier, according to Reader’s Digest.

Bob Marckini’s book, “You Can Beat Prostate Cancer And You Don’t Need Surgery To Do It,” is listed in the #3 position on a search for “prostate cancer” on (all departments) out of 43,690 search results at the time of this writing. Within the “books” department, the book is listed in the #3 position on a search for “prostate cancer” out of 30,001 search results

The book has 220 reader reviews on Amazon—more than any other book in the top 50!

Here is an excerpt from what one reader recently had to say:

Read this book before deciding what treatment is right for your prostate cancer.  By C. Loo

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, this is a must read. After reading the book along with all of the materials I had gathered about prostate cancer, I decided to undergo proton therapy at Loma Linda University Cancer Center. I found that everything stated in Bob’s book was right on the money. My time spent at LLUCC was exactly as described by Bob. Before making a decision on what road to take to treat your prostate cancer, read this book first—you’ll be glad that you invested the time and money to do so!

More Information / Where to Buy the Book:

Paperback: $19.00--·--Kindle: $9.99--·--NOOK Book: $9.99--·--Apple iBook:  $9.99

All proceeds from book sales help fund BOB efforts and support proton therapy research.

Ask about our bulk discount for paperback books:

If you found Bob’s book 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 “Create your own review” button. Don’t forget to rate the book from 1 to 5 stars!


Correction: Did You Know?

Last month in our “Did You Know?” series we reported: “If you get into the bottom of a well or a tall chimney and look up, you can see stars, even in the middle of the day.”

One of our members did some research on this and we learned this is not true. This claim has been made by some sources for many years, but astronomers tell us it is not true. Scientists report that the most likely explanation for the old legend is that stray bits of rubbish get caught in the updraft in a well or chimney and catch the sunlight as they emerge from the top. However, it is possible to see stars in the daytime with a good telescope, as long as it has been pre-focused and can be accurately pointed at a target.

Here are some more from this series:

  • For every extra kilogram carried on a space flight, 530 kg of fuel are needed at lift-off.
  • Everything weighs 1 percent less at the equator.
  • Soldiers do not march in step when going across bridges because they could set up a vibration that could be sufficient to knock the bridge down.
  • Due to earth’s gravity it is impossible for mountains to be higher than 15,000 meters.
  • Strawberries are the only fruits whose seeds grow on the outside.

New Beginnings

“You have cancer” are three of the most terrifying words a person can hear, and our culture does little to ease that fear.

Seven years ago, Bob Marckini met internationally renowned photographer, Bill Aron, while both were visiting Loma Linda. Bill was at the Loma Linda Cancer Center shooting photographs of cancer survivors for his upcoming book, “New Beginnings: The Triumphs of 120 Cancer Survivors.” The book is about people who have overcome the fear of hearing those three words. It focuses on survivors who have not let their cancer diagnosis prevent them from living their lives to the fullest; and, in many cases, the diagnosis served as an impetus to better their lives.

The book was completed this year and published last month. We had an opportunity to read an advance copy, and we fell in love with it. It is filled with inspiring stories and photographs of cancer survivors. It is a book for and by those who have endured one of the greatest hurdles of their lives. It features a collection of narratives and photographic portraits of men, women, children, and families of all ages and ethnicities. “New Beginnings” will inspire hope in its readers. It is the perfect gift for anyone diagnosed with cancer, or their family, loved ones, or friends. It is the gift of hope.

Coming from all walks of life, survivors include Sally Craigen, who never stopped enjoying life, even after her second cancer diagnosis three decades after her first; Rabbi William Cutter, already a survivor of three heart attacks by the time he faced prostate cancer; Sophia Colby, who, following her cancer diagnosis at 15 months old, has endured more in her 10 years than many people do in their entire lives; professional basketball player Coby Karl, who hasn’t let thyroid cancer stop him from pursuing his dreams; and over a hundred others.

You might even recognize some of the survivors highlighted including Bob Marckini, Loma Linda’s Ed Schultz, Dr. Lynn Martell, and Jennifer Gardner, and some BOB members including Dr. Howard Gimbel and Gary Culpepper.

The book is 272 pages with 160 full-color photographs. It is available on Amazon. You may also view a representative sample PDF.

Estate Planning Hints

As mentioned above, BOB Member Ron Hendricks is Director of Gift Planning for Trinity Western University. He regularly copies us on his “News from Ron” mailings, which are helpful hints to the readers of his newsletters. We have found Ron’s suggestions to be timely and beneficial. With his permission we will periodically be sharing some of his wisdom with our membership. Here is the third:

Question: Do I Need a Living Will or Advance Directive?

I recently spoke with several families that are approaching end-of-life decisions; there are several steps that should be taken to make sure you receive the right type and level of care. To assist you in these decisions, most states now permit either an advance directive or a living will. These documents are designed to assist your family and doctors in making the decisions that you prefer at that time.

Some states use an advance directive in which you would choose a combination of a durable power of attorney for healthcare and a living will. Other states have separate documents. It is very important that you use the appropriate document that is best for your state.

The Advance Directive

Your key adviser is the person who will make your medical decisions if you are incapacitated. This individual is frequently called the healthcare proxy. He or she is your agent and holds your power of attorney for healthcare. You will want to list the person, their address and phone number so he or she can be easily contacted. It is also quite common to select a second or third person to serve if the first person is unable or unwilling to serve.

Action Steps

After completing your living will or advance directive, you will sign and typically have witnesses for your original document. Prepare several copies of your advance directive. You will want to give a copy to your healthcare agent, your family, clergy, your doctors and other advisers who may be involved in assisting with your medical decisions.

Dirty Money? Yuck!

In a study last year, researchers at New York University tested dollar bills and found 3,000 kinds of bacteria, some of which can cause gastric ulcers, pneumonia, food poisoning, staph infections and acne. They also found fungi and plant pathogens, DNA from horses and dogs, and minute traces of anthrax and diphtheria.

Think about this before you lick your fingers to count out money at the grocery store.

Learn more.

Last Month’s Brain Teaser

Thirteen people came into a hotel with 12 rooms and each guest wanted his own room.
The bellboy solved this problem.

He asked the 13th guest to wait a little with the first guest in room number 1. So, in the first room there were two people. The bellboy took the third guest to room number 2, the fourth to number 3 … and the 12th guest to room number 11. Then he returned to room number 1 and took the 13th guest to room number 12, still vacant.

How can everybody have his own room?

Answer: They can’t—it’s impossible. Into the second room should have gone the 2nd guest, because the 13th guest was waiting in room number 1.​

Winner: This month was interesting. The first and second to write in with the correct answer were both repeat winners. Both offered up their prize to the next in line. So, we moved onto the third to write in with the correct answer. That was Richard (Dick) Machlan of Hillsboro, OR.

Dick received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from Walla Walla College (now University) in 1961. He received a Masters in Business Administration degree from the University of Portland in 1984.  He designed test equipment for a few years and then switched into Computer Science and wrote software, taught classes, and managed computer groups for the next 40+ years.  He retired in 2004 and started taking care of his grandchildren every day. 

Dick married Lillian in June, 1962. They have five children and 12 grandchildren.  By the way, don’t ask Dick about his grandkids or he will bend your ear for the next several hours talking about each of their exploits. 

Dick has been a huge support to the BOB over the years. He wrote a testimonial for our website and is listed on our LLUCC patient reference list. He has spoken with numerous newly diagnosed men and enjoys helping learn more about proton therapy. Dick has also personally obtained and distributed 35 copies of Bob’s book to relatives, friends, church, phone contacts, and others. He has also given two proton presentations at the beginning of church services.

In 2008, Dick’s PSA went from 5.08 to 9.6 in one year. The biopsy that followed found cancer, Gleason 7. “My journey paralleled Bob Marckini’s very closely,” Dick told us. Incidentally, Dick’s father graduated with a medical degree from Loma Linda University School of Medicine in 1947.

When Dick was reviewing treatment options, his urologist described various treatments to Dick and Lillian; however he did not mention proton therapy. When the doctor asked if they had any questions, Dick inquired, “You have not mentioned anything about proton therapy—why is that?” His doctor stated honestly that he knew very little about proton therapy. Dick continued with his own research and later gave his urologist one of Bob’s books.

Just before treatment (late 2008), Dick’s PSA had risen to 13.1. A year after treatment, his PSA was down to 2.3 and in 2015, it is 0.39. His side effects during treatment were “negligible” and there have been “no problems since.” Proton therapy is the second topic that can get Dick started talking for hours. He will tell anyone about the “radiation vacation” that he enjoyed when he went through treatment.

Dick is a busy guy. He spends his time organizing the greeters at church, serving on the church board, maintaining the hot lunch menu for the school where four of his grandkids attend, and scheduling volunteers for “testing duties” in the swimming pool in front of their rowhouse. His hobbies include genealogy research on many branches of the family; and compiling, editing, and distributing DVDs with 700-1000 family photos to approximately 50 family members every year.

When we announced to Dick that he was the April BOB Tales brain teaser winner, he was very appreciative. “I really appreciate what Bob Marckini has done, both in writing the book and starting and maintaining the BOB.”  He went on to say, “And I truly appreciate Deb’s help in taking over many of Bob’s responsibilities as of late. It really helps newly diagnosed men, as well as members, to have BOB resources available.”

If you have any questions for Dick, he welcomes emails ( and phone calls (Home: 503-693-4643, Cell: 503-713-7496).

Congratulations, Dick! Your signed copy of Bob’s book is on the way!

New Brain Teaser

What do the following words have in common?

friend, pastry, portable, remote, varnish

Answer next month: The first to send an email to with the correct answer will receive a signed copy of Bob’s book.

What is a Grandparent?
Taken from 8-year-old school papers …

  • “Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their own. They like other people’s.”
  • “Grandparents don’t have to do anything except be there when we come to see them. They are so old they shouldn’t play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to stores and give us money.”
  • “When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars. And they never say, ‘Hurry up.’”
  • “Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes.”
  • “They wear glasses and funny underwear.”
  • “They can take their teeth and gums out.”
  • “They have to answer questions like, ‘Why isn’t God married?’”
  • “When they read to us, they don’t skip. They don’t mind if we ask for the same story over again.”
  • “They know we should have a snack before bed time, and they say prayers with us and kiss us even when we’ve acted badly.”

And our favorite: 

  • “It’s funny when they bend over; you hear gas leaks, and they blame the dog.”

Quote of the Month: 

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”  ―Leo Buscaglia

Giving when it Counts—From Great Lessons in Life

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease.  Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.  The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save her.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Low PSAs to all,

Bob Marckini and Deb Hickey

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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.