Treated 2007 • Posted 2007
We ran a Featured Member Story on Dr. Bernard Hindman in our BOB Tales newsletter, and with Dr. Hindman’s permission, we have posted it on our website as his testimonial. Dr. Hindman is a man of considerable intellect and accomplishment. His story and his rationale for choosing proton therapy should be of great value to recently diagnosed men.
My name is Bernie Hindman and I am a physician. I spent my early life in Florida, where I received a Bachelor of Science degree and Doctor of Medicine, both from the University of Miami. Shortly after graduation from medical school, I married a Florida State University nursing student, Carol Webb, and we have been happily married for 43 years. I am the father of four children, three daughters and a son, and am blessed with twelve grandchildren. My wife and I began our married life in San Francisco, where she was a nurse at Letterman General Hospital. I interned at the Southern Pacific Memorial Hospital, and following the completion of my internship year, I entered the United States Navy as a general medical officer.
After completing my service tour, I returned to the University of Miami, and completed a residency in radiology. My first position was in a suburb of Sacramento, California, where I did general diagnostic radiology. I received my board certification in December, 1970. I practiced in the Sacramento area until 1977, and then following a brief stay in south Florida, I took a Fellowship in pediatric radiology at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. After completion of the fellowship, I moved a short distance away to Orthopaedic Hospital, and was there for the next 14 years, the last three as Department Chairman. In 1992, I answered an add for a pediatric radiologist at Loma Linda, because I wanted to have a position where I could teach Radiology. I retired from active practice in 2004 at the rank of Associate Professor. My role at Loma Linda, because of my experience in orthopedic diseases was that of section head for musculoskeletal diseases. During the time that I was at Loma Linda, I became a Fellow of the American College of Radiology and a member of the International Skeletal Society. My career spanned a time of incredible change in Radiology with the advent of computed tomography and later magnetic resonance imaging.
Because of the proximity of south Florida to deep sea fishing, that became a lifetime love of mine, and I have enjoyed fishing in Baja California, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Costa Rica. Throughout my school years prior to college, I studied violin, and was a member of my junior and senior high school orchestras. I love to paint, and have dedicated myself to water colors in the last few years. I love to write, and have written a number of articles on musculoskeletal diseases, but the last year has been consumed with the writing of the Hindman-Webb family story.
When I was recruited by Loma Linda in 1992, I was aware of the many centers of excellence that were part of Loma Linda. I was introduced to a relatively new facility, the Proton Treatment Center, which would become one of its greatest achievements.
When I was finally diagnosed with prostate cancer following a long succession of rising PSA's and an earlier negative biopsy, I should have been well positioned to move to proton radiation for the treatment of my tumor. That was not the case. All treatment options initially passed through my urologists, and I had three; one from Loma Linda, one from Templeton, a town close to my retirement home, and a friend of 40 years and Godfather of our oldest child, who is Department Chairman of Urology at a large university medical center.
I could have talked to 100 urologists and the answer would have been the same; get the tumor out, and save radiation for another day. I was frightened of the side effects of surgery, most particularly urinary incontinence. Several people were most influential in my final decision to have proton radiation. A former fellow radiology resident and friend of 38 years, had had a trans-perineal radical prostatectomy a year earlier, and he said that if he had it to do over again, he would not have surgery.
A close friend and gastroenterologist in my retirement community favored proton therapy over other forms of radiation, because of the ability of protons to give up all their energy at the target, and thus sparing the rectum. My local urologist and I discussed the possibility of pelvic node involvement and the possibility of cutting through tumor at the junction of the prostate and membranous urethra. He thought that the likelihood of cutting across tumor, because of lower quadrant disease was 15-20%, and if that happened, pelvic radiation would be needed. At that instant, I made the decision to have proton radiation as the primary and only form of treatment - if I would be accepted.
On my first day of treatment I was frightened. I made the three 90 degree turns into the treatment area thinking, this is like Poe's The Cask of Amontillado; I am going to be chained to a treatment table, and never leave the department. Dr. Martell assured me that Loma Linda had never had a patient enter the treatment area and not come out. Then I saw the gantry peaking through tiny windows and a treatment nozzle located at a recessed area suggestive of the entrance of the Holland Tunnel. As I lay in the pod, my thoughts paraphrased the Wizard of Oz, "pay no attention to that monster behind the shield." Quickly my fear changed, first to awe, and then to curiosity and comfort.
Three things have most impressed me during my weeks as a patient. I am in awe of the scientific underpinning of the facility and staff. I am impressed by the staff responsible for the emotion and spiritual health of the patient. They have exemplified the Loma Linda mission statement, 'To Make Man Whole,' better than anything in my experience, including other treatment areas of Loma Linda University Medical Center. Finally, I have been impressed by the intensity, commitment, and intelligence my fellow patients and former patients have brought to the selection of this treatment option as most appropriate for them.
I think that prostate cancer has been a blessing. I have had a very treatable form of malignancy treated with state of the art technology. At the same time, I have learned lessons of advocacy and wholeness that will last for the rest of my life. I will continue to be available to anyone needing understanding and encouragement for proton therapy and life after prostate cancer.
May God bless all of you.
Bernard W. Hindman, M.D.