Treated 2015 · Posted 2016
“In what seemed like no time at all, our “radiation vacation” was over. After some emotional farewells, we packed our things and headed home. I couldn’t get over how good I felt and how wonderful our experience in California had been both physically and emotionally ... We have been truly blessed and are very grateful to Bob Marckini for his inspiration and to the medical staff at LLUCC for what they did for us and continue to do every day for so many others."
In the summer of 2014, my PSA had risen to 4.5. I was a healthy, active retiree enjoying life in Tucson, AZ with my equally active wife, Joanna. I talked to my doctor and he recommended a biopsy by my urologist. The biopsy discovered early stage prostate cancer. My Gleason score was 6. Because the cancer was early stage and I was 75, the doctors suggested “watchful waiting.” But after discussing the situation with my Joanna, I decided to have treatment since I didn’t want her to be constantly thinking about whether or not it was going to get worse. Her father had passed away painfully with untreated prostate cancer.
Treatment Research and Decision
I talked to several men in my community who had suffered from prostate cancer. They had been treated with many of the available forms of treatment (surgery, radiation, HIFU, seeds, etc.). Fortunately two had received proton beam therapy at Loma Linda University Cancer Center, one in 2007 and the other in 2009. Both had been fully cured with NO SIDE EFFECTS. This information coupled with the fact that all of the others to whom I spoke had suffered significant quality of life issues after their respective treatments caused me to delve further into research. It was at this time that I read Bob Marckini’s book (recommended by one of the LLUCC patients). I was very impressed with the research Mr. Marckini had done and the proton treatment he experienced at LLUCC. I searched the Web for everything I could find about prostate cancer treatment, including proton beam radiation therapy. After extensive research, I decided that the least invasive treatment and best quality of life outcome would result from having proton beam therapy. At this point, my PSA had risen to 5.7.
Medical Insurance Issues
The next thing I did was to call my insurance agency. They refused to pay for proton beam therapy. I sought out other insurance companies and finally Cigna Health told me they would cover the costs of proton beam therapy at LLUCC. I switched insurance companies and in February 2015, Joanna and I packed up and headed to California from our Arizona home. We found a lovely apartment about 1.5 miles from the hospital and went for my initial examination. My PSA had risen to 7.4. Everyone was helpful and friendly and explained the entire process of the treatments. I was scheduled to begin treatment the following week and we settled into our apartment and explored the local area which was quite lovely. We went to the beautiful LLUCC Drayson Fitness Center and worked out and ate at several of the local restaurants. We also joined the Redlands Country Club, a nearby facility with a beautiful golf course and restaurant, with a guest membership that is available to LLUCC proton patients.
I began my treatments around 10 am. Treatments were simple and the staff was always helpful and informative. Joanna and I walked to the hospital every morning after breakfast and sat in the pleasant waiting room chatting with other proton patients until I was called for treatment. A quick change of clothes into a gown and then I got onto the table. The balloon was inserted, a 90 second beam of radiation, and I was finished. The whole process took under an hour.
Several times a week Joanna and I visited the Redlands CC and played a round of golf after my treatment. We went to a regularly scheduled Pot Luck dinner with fellow proton patients and their significant others hosted by volunteers Clyde and Sylvia Marsh (Clyde is a former proton patient and BOB member). Other evenings, the group went to a different area restaurant each week led by Dr. Lynn Martell and his assistant, Karla Montalvo. On the weekends, we explored the local area with day trips to Palm Springs, Redlands, and Temecula (great wine country). Every Sunday after church we went to the Redlands CC and had brunch in a beautiful dining room overlooking a golf course.
The days went by quickly. Every week I had a weigh-in and a progress visit with the doctor to whom I had been assigned. These were always short meetings because I had no ill effects and could hardly detect that anything was happening. The doctor assured me that I was doing fine and the treatments were working.
The Effects of Treatment on My Family
Two of our children lived on the East Coast. They were concerned about me and how I was doing as I was being treated for cancer. They visited on separate trips to see me. The staff allowed them to come into the treatment room. They showed them the equipment, explained everything they were doing, and allowed them to take pictures of me in my lovely gown. One of my children reassured the rest of the family that I was doing just fine. The picture below shows me awaiting treatment with the “prayer bear” our granddaughters sent to help me get well.
It Was Over
In what seemed like no time at all, our “radiation vacation” was over. After some emotional farewells, we packed our things and headed home. I couldn’t get over how good I felt and how wonderful our experience in California had been both physically and emotionally.
In the year and a half since my treatment, I have had no side effects. At the one year mark, my PSA dropped to 1.0. Joanna and I are continuing to enjoy life every day. We recently moved back to the East Coast to spend more time with our children (7), grandchildren (11), and great grandchildren (4).
We have been truly blessed and are very grateful to Bob Marckini for his inspiration and to the medical staff at LLUCC for what they did for us and continue to do every day for so many others.