Treated 2002 • Posted 2002
“Loma Linda's goal is "To Make Man Whole" in all respects. I felt emotional peace in their hands and that peace continues!!!”
My name is Jennings Raff; I am 71 years of age and completed my Proton radiation treatments at Loma Linda on October 1, 2002. My Gleason Score was 6, PSA 3.8 and is now .0!
My journey to Loma Linda began September 9, 2001 when I had my regular annual physical. Actually, it wasn't a doctor that decided that I should have a prostate biopsy but a young physician’s assistant for my doctor. His office is in Fair Oaks, California and it turned out that the physician’s assistant is a prostate cancer survivor himself - a radical prostatectomy survivor. He had been watching my PSA for several years and when the results came back 3.8, he was the one to recommend a biopsy. He also diagnosed BPH. I was referred to my urologist whose office is located in Carmichael, California. I had my consultation on October 16, 2001 and was scheduled for a biopsy on November 6th. The urologist called me on the 8th and passed on the happy news that my pathology report showed cancer.
Now it was time to begin the "pity party". My wife and I scheduled a short cruise for the week of November 25th and a weekend in Capitola February 23, 2002! We feared that it would probably be our last times together! During another consultation with my urologist on December 18, with my wife present, my options were defined. They were; 1. radical prostatectomy, 2. seed implants, 3. radiation or 4. "Watchful Waiting," but #'s 1 & 4 were not really believed to be options for me. Besides that, because of the BPH problem, I received my first Lupron shot and then was scheduled for a TURP on February 27, 2002. Proton radiation was NOT mentioned. I was scheduled for a consultation at a radiation oncology center. The doctor at that center shall remain anonymous but his first question was, "Do you have insurance?" When I answered "Secure Horizons" he was very happy to offer radiation treatments. He did not describe the various radiation techniques but an appointment was set to come back and begin radiation on March 27, 2002. Again, Proton radiation was not mentioned. I had my TURP and happily, the worst part was the catheter, but it was removed after 3 days.
About this time a very dear friend who is an Insurance Field Representative for the company I had been working for called me and asked if I had ever heard of Loma Linda. I said I had and knew that radiation treatments were offered there but I didn't need to travel to Southern California for two months, when I could walk back and forth for my radiation treatments right here at home! He told me that I should really consider Loma Linda and that he would obtain some information for me. He did, and that generated the research phase of my treatment - books, Internet, etc. In the meantime, I also changed my health insurance to Medicare and Tricare for Life, since I am retired military. Secure Horizons had also removed my urologist from their referral list and were not a good Loma Linda insurance option anyway.
I called the Proton Referral Office in March and was instructed to forward my charts, lab work, etc. to Loma Linda. My urologist’s staff did that for me. I soon received a letter from the Dept. of Radiation Medicine and a call from Sandy Plattner, Dr. Yonamoto's Case Manager. She told me that I had been scheduled for a consultation on July 29th and tentative treatment to begin August 5th! When I kept my appointment with the radiation oncologist he was happy to learn that I had changed my insurance and now I was eligible for conformal radiation or other procedures. He was disappointed when I told him what he could do with his radiation! I was going to Loma Linda for Proton radiation! His only comment was that I was probably wasting my time. I presume that it was precautionary, but I received a second Lupron shot on May 17th. My PSA was 1.9 when I had the test in preparation for Proton treatments.
My wife and I traveled to Loma Linda on June 1-3 to see the hospital, July 18-20 to look for housing, again for my consultation on July 28th. and then to begin treatment on August 5th. One of my big concerns had been about a place to spend my "Southern California Vacation" since I would be there alone, except for the first week of my treatment. After a twenty-minute visit to the housing office and a short interview with the wonderful ladies there, I had a cottage on Prospect Avenue, only two tenths of a mile from the front door of the hospital, and a garage for my truck. My wife and I had two days to explore Big Bear and Joshua Tree! Everything was going like clockwork - a clock that no man could design.
From that time on, beginning with my first treatment on August 5th until the last on October 1st my story is like all of the other happy customers at the Proton Treatment Center. Everything went beautifully. I've had no side effects - except those that had already been caused by the TURP and Lupron, and they continue. Dr. Yonamoto and Sandy, Gerry and his staff, BOB, Stella the dietician, Romi and all the people at Drayson Center, the cafeteria, library, reception and security, University Church and Campus Store, are all actually angels in disguise. My technicians at Gantry 3 - Teresa, Loren, and Ken, and Kathryn at the front desk were wonderful also!
Loma Linda's goal is "To Make Man Whole" in all respects. I felt emotional peace in their hands and that peace continues!!! In retrospect, those forty treatments really didn't take too long at all.
By the way; on a personal comfort note.....I don't remember anyone that complained or had a concern about handling the Lupron "hot flashes", however, my urologist prescribed the birth control prescription Depo Provera, and that worked for me before treatment (until it wore off) and is working for me now. Dr. Yonamoto recommended "Udderly Smooth Udder Cream" as a "pre-lubricant" prior to balloon sessions and that soothed me - at least psychologically!
I would be happy to be called upon if I could encourage others seeking proton treatment.
Jennings Raff - Citrus Heights, California