Treated 2000 · Posted 2002

“Two years later my PSA is 0.4, the size and texture of my prostate is normal, and the roughness is gone.”

Prior to being diagnosed with prostate cancer, my knowledge of the prostate was virtually nil. It took me awhile to even pronounce it correctly, prostate versus prostrate. The only thing I really knew about this gland, was that checking it was the least favorite part of my annual physical.

Obviously, that all changed when on St. Patrick's Day 2000, my urologist told my wife and I they found cancer cells in the biopsy.

This announcement began for me what I have called my "Journey of Faith." All things considered I would just as soon not have cancer. But because of the proton treatment, the tremendous staff and care at Loma Linda, and my Christian Faith, this journey has been an amazing experience for me.

Like so many other men I had no idea proton treatment was even available when I was diagnosed. In fact, a date for surgery had been set for early May. Prior to surgery we began to let family and friends know of my diagnosis. Because of my position as an elected official, County Commissioner, I went public in the local newspapers.

Then came a phone call, which changed the direction my journey was to take. Clint, the husband of a cousin, called from Southern California. He told me of a treatment a friend of his had received for prostate cancer. It was called proton treatment, and it was offered at Loma Linda University Medical Center. He wasn't trying to tell me what to do, but his friend said it was the best decision he had ever made, and he had had no medical side effects following treatment.

In hindsight, that phone call created a cross road in my journey. I now had an alternative course to travel, and I began to do some research.

It became very clear, very quickly that proton treatment was the way to go. I canceled surgery, and embarked on what was a 12-week battle with my insurance company. I believe I ended up being a major test case for Oregon, for on the third level of appeal, my insurance company reversed itself. I moved from that interesting and almost insidious word "investigational" to approval. I lived with Clint and Sharon while I took treatment in the fall of 2000.

Prior to treatment I had three indicators, which were of concern to my GP doctor. My prostate was enlarged for a man my age (54 at the time), a PSA of 4.1, and some roughness on one side of the prostate. Two years later my PSA is 0.4, the size and texture of my prostate is normal, and the roughness is gone. The only thing which remains the same, is the prostate check is still my least favorite part of the physical!!

In the last two years I probably have averaged someone every couple of weeks who contacts me about prostate cancer. It has been rewarding to have helped provide input for 8 other men who have gone to Loma Linda, including one of my brothers, since completing my treatment.

I am very grateful Clint took the time to call me, and I am honored to be able to, in turn, take time to help someone else on their journey to make the same decision. I just wish someone would find another way to check the darn thing.

Bill Hansell



life after proton treatment