Treated 2001 · Posted 2002

"So, on my final day of treatment, I left LLUMC, drove 1,345 miles in 22 hours and arrived home on my 75th birthday with energy to spare!"

I believe God opened doors for me to go to Loma Linda University Medical Center, for Proton treatment of the prostate.

After retiring from the Air Force, I went to work for National Health Laboratories, I called on Doctors, Hospitals, Clinics etc. I retired from NHL in 1990. In 1998, Trish, a nurse came calling. She worked for one of the doctors I called on. Trish asked me, “Do you remember showing me some wedding pictures, that you took & I told you some day my 12 year-old daughter would get married & that I want you to take the pictures?” I said I remember, she said that day has arrived. So we set that up. I also asked her where she was working now? She said for The Urology Clinic Of North Texas. I said my daughter Cindy has worked in the medical field for one firm for 12 years. They have sold out to another firm & Cindy is not happy with the new firm. By chance would there happen to be an opening where you work? She brought Cindy an application, but there were no openings at the time. One week later a woman quit without notice and they called my daughter in & hired her.

October 1999 I had a physical, my PSA was 7.6, September 2000 my PSA was 9.7. My PSA was on the rise. My Dr. set me up with a Urologist for a biopsy. I asked if I could go to the one where my daughter works. I told him it was the Urology Clinic Of North Texas. My Dr said that's a good group of Urologists, but your HMO has a contract with a different Urologist.

October we did the biopsies (8) total. The Urologist called me in a few days & said “you have cancer.” He told me my left lobe had a 4 Gleason, and my right lobe had 7 Gleason. He scheduled me 8 days later for consultation to discuss my options.

A nurse where my daughter works told her of a doctor that she once worked for went to Loma Linda & took proton beam treatment for his prostate. She contacted him, then he called me and talked to me for one hour & 15 mi. It had been 4 yrs. since he had his treatment, he said he felt fine & no side affects, he said, “Forget the other options and go to LLUMC.” I thought if a Dr. would take that much time away from his busy schedule, that there must be something to this place called LLUMC.

On consultation day, my urologist ruled out surgery due to my age & other health reasons and he really leaned heavily on radiation treatments. I handed him the printouts from the Internet on Loma Linda & asked him if he knew about this type of treatment. He glanced at it & said “yes, but you don't want to go there - it is experimental.” I told him I wanted a few days to think about everything. He said ok, he would get me set up for my other tests, ct-scan, bone, pelvic, lung X-rays & lab work. I got the reports back on them - - all good. Cancer showed to be contained in the prostate.

I contacted LLUMC, to speak with someone about proton treatment for prostate cancer. They took my phone number. In a couple of hours, Sandy Plattner, Dr Yonemoto's, nurse called me. She told me to fax her all my test reports, check with my Insurance, & she would get back in touch with me.

I called my HMO, they said they would not cover it. I called AARP they said they would even with pre-existing conditions, I signed up with them effective 1st January, 2001.

Sandy called back, said every thing looked good. I told her about the insurance deal and she set me up for the 1st week in January 2001.

My HMO would not pay & they would not release me. AARP could not enter the picture until they did. Sandy had to change my appointment 3 times because they wouldn't release me. I called Medicare, they gave me a verbal release & sent a printed copy in 5 days. My new date at LLUMC was changed to February 1, 2001.

My wife was in poor health & hadn't planned on making the trip. My daughter Cindy came home with 2 round trip airline tickets to Ontario airport & back to DFW. I said there is only one of us going, she said I beg your pardon I am going too. I said you can't go, you have 2 teen age girls in school & a husband plus your Job to take care of. She replied, “Steve, the girls & I have talked it over, they are going to help mother out & my Boss is giving me a family leave so my job will be waiting for me when I get back.” I am usually not lost for words, but that time I was.

Last day Jan. 2001 I arrived in Loma Linda. 1st day Feb-01, consultation time, met with Sandy & Dr. Yonemoto, they are two of the nicest people you will ever meet, but you know everyone in the Hospital is that way - they really make you feel at home out there. We spent about an hour & 15 minutes with them & got the pod made & CT Scan taken care of. In a couple of days Sandy called us said I was set up for 38 treatments starting 28 February.

Cindy & I decided to fly home for 2 weeks and then drive back to LLUMC. I’m Glad we did, it was nice to have wheels out there. We went some place almost every day, Cindy sure was a big help to me out there. I really appreciate her.

I really enjoyed attending the Wednesday Support group meetings. There are always a couple of good laughs. Gerry Troy & his staff are really great. Both crews in Gantry 2 were great also, & lets not leave out the receptionist. They are all so nice.

A lot of good people in our church were praying for me (Grace Baptist Church). I still have a large stack of cards & letters they sent me while I was in CA. Jim Weaver was the leader of our National Prayer Group at our Church. My Pastor, Bro. Ronnie Williams called often to see how I was doing. One week before I finished my treatment, my wife had a mild stroke. My daughter flew back home to help out with her. My wife is doing pretty well now.

April 25th-2001, 6:00 AM, my 38th & final treatment. At 6:30 AM I was on Highway 10 headed for Texas. I had planned to spend the night in El Paso, but it was still daylight so I just continued on. So, on my final day of treatment, I left LLUMC, drove 1,345 miles in 22 hours and arrived home on my 75th birthday with energy to spare!

I showed the Videos & spoke about my treatment at our Church. Jim & Ethel Weaver attended that presentation, almost one year to the day Jim was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Jim just finished his treatment at LLUMC (July-2002). Jim has thanked me may times for helping him discover LLUMC. Jim said to me, little did I know when I was leading the National Prayer Group in our Church in your behalf, that I would be taking the same treatment a year later. He said “I think the Lord sent you ahead to blaze the trail for me.” I told Jim if we all did a 20/20 hindsight check, we all could see that God was in control.

I belong to the American Cancer Society & we meet the 1st Thursday of each month. I took Jim & Ethel to a couple of these meetings. Both men & women cancer survivors attend our meetings and after a general introduction, the women break off into a separate room. The men’s group is called MAN To MAN, you will hear about every kind of prostate cancer treatment at our meetings. After hearing what some of these men went through, & the side effects, Jim & I are so thankful we found out about the Proton treatment at LLUMC.

When I got back from Loma Linda, I changed Urologist. When I got rid of that HMO, I was able to choose the Doctors I want for a change. Dr. Moore is his name and he is one of the Doctors at The Urology clinic Of North Texas. He is also President Of Tarrant County Cancer Society and he attends our meetings on the 1st Thursday of each Month. He thinks the Proton Beam is a good treatment. He has sent all of my progress reports to Loma Linda UMC, the last one 8/12/02 PSA 0.1. That is the same as the last 2 also.

I showed the videos & talked to a senior group at a church in Burkburnett, Texas. One of the ladies there had a sister in Houston, & her Sunday school teacher was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He called me from Houston. He went to LLUMC for his treatment. Another man called me from Desert Center, CA. I understand he also went to LLUMC. I have no idea how he got my name & phone no. I go where I am needed & talk to anyone who wants to know about LLUMC.

I think God gives us Mountains & Valleys. The Mountains are the challenges we encounter getting to LLUMC. The green valley is LLUMC. And the s weet smelling flowers in the valley are the nice people at LLUMC. If he didn't put bumps in the road, we wouldn't appreciate the good things in life, we would just take everything for granted. Life would really be DULL wouldn't it.??

Jim Branson