Treated 2003 • Posted 2016
"I discovered something interesting along my journey: A number of treatment programs 'hide behind' HIPAA regulations as a means to not provide the names and contact information of former patients who have received that treatment. On the other hand, Bob Marckini, and the former proton patients he referred me to - all BOB members - were open, outgoing, and effusive about their total treatment experience."
I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June, 2002. My US-based urologist gave me the "news" about three weeks before I was scheduled to depart the US as a Project Director, based in Singapore, on a global team administering a contract for a technology company. The urologist who made the diagnosis said I should have a thorough physical in Singapore so that when "surgery was scheduled upon my return on a home leave" I could be examined again to determine any changes in my diagnosis.
After settling in in Singapore, I called the US Embassy and was provided with the name of a physician practicing in Singapore, a US citizen, who went to medical school in the US. I remember the following specifically because of the timeline: I called the doctor's office. He answered the phone on a Saturday morning and, after explaining the purpose of the call, he scheduled me an exam the following Tuesday.
I had a comprehensive exam followed by a visit to the lab for the panel the doctor requested. On Thursday of the same week, I reviewed the lab results with the doctor and he referred me to a urologist in Singapore for an appointment that Saturday (That's right: Tuesday exam and lab draws, follow-up appointment on Thursday to review the exam and lab results AND an appointment with the top urologist in Singapore the following weekend. To paraphrase a line from a well known movie, "This ain't the US, Toto!!")
I found out about proton therapy and Loma Linda University Cancer Center because the doctor had retrieved information from his files and had gotten information from one of his former patients about LLUCC. This former patient, while an expat in Singapore, had been a previous patient. After his return to the US, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had sent the doctor info about LLUCC in the hope that the doctor could be instrumental in establishing a proton treatment center in Singapore.
The doctor provided me with the contact info for this former patient and I was on the phone with him the following Monday. This man was a BOB member and referred me to Bob Marckini. Bob immediately sent me the names of the some of the Proton BOB fraternity so that I could speak directly with former patients about their experiences and outcomes.
It only took about 4 calls to decide that a visit to LLUCC would be scheduled as a part of my next home leave.
In the Fall, 2002, and I visited LLUCC. By the end of the visit, I was convinced that proton therapy at LLUCC was the best - and only - option for me. I started treatment in mid-January, 2003, and completed treatment in late March.
I didn't return to Singapore immediately. SARS had spread to Singapore and was being managed as a public health matter. The firm intended that I return to Singapore, when it was safe to do so and, in the interim, I worked on specific projects or supported sales executives on customer calls. When my physician advised that I could return to Singapore, I booked my return flight.
It may be appropriate to note here that a number of my male colleagues at the firm who had undergone surgery for prostate cancer were envious of my use of proton beam treatment. One of them did, however, make a recommendation: Don't ride a bike before blood will be drawn or after a DRE because the PSA is likely to be elevated.
It is now 2016 and I am 71. I continue to be physically active. I do resistance training six days a week (alternating muscle groups) with a rest day; occasionally play pickle ball; walk as far as three to five miles three days a week; and, manage my diet and portion sizes. At the moment, I am training for a 5K race in the fall (I will not let the heat and occasional humidity of the late summer interfere with my time!).
I discovered something interesting along my journey: A number of treatment programs 'hide behind' HIPAA regulations as a means to not provide the names and contact information of former patients who have received that treatment. On the other hand, Bob Marckini, and the former proton patients he referred me to - all BOB members - were open, outgoing, and effusive about their total treatment experience.
I would also add that my tennis game improved since there were three other patients being treated at LLUCC while I was there. We were tennis players; and, had a standing agreement that we'd play as often as possible. We did that and, I can honestly say that our games improved and we came up with some very creative ways to explain a missed shot: "I hit on the wrong side of the strings!" "Last year, I would have gotten to that ball!" And, "I'm conservative in my politics, so I have a real problem going to my left".
If this recounting of my experience at LLUCC is helpful and you have any more questions, contact Deb Hickey who is authorized to provide you with my contact information.