Treated 2016 · Posted 2022
"I hope those reading our story will find hope in knowing that proton therapy can deliver radiation directly to the tumor without damaging the healthy tissue around it. As a result, quality of life can be maintained. Merlen had NO incontinence, impotence, pain, or any other side effects like many do with traditional radiation treatment." —Marge Thom, Wife of BOB member Merlen Thom.
When my husband Merlen was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer back in late 2015, we were stunned. To make matters worse, his urologist suggested only abysmal treatment options – conventional radiation with all the debilitating side effects or “wait and see.” Wait and see what? If the cancer spreads and he dies?!
We felt that because Merlen was already in his late 70s, we were looking at a death sentence.
Fortunately, we didn’t settle for his urologist’s recommendations. Instead, we did our own research on treatment options. During that process, we found Bob Marckini's book on Amazon, “You Can Beat Prostate Cancer.” It was a game changer. We went from having so much fear to having hope.
I contacted the Brotherhood of the Balloon, Marckini’s prostate cancer support organization, and talked to Deb Hickey, his daughter who works alongside him. She was very accessible to us; we went back and forth several times. She answered our questions and sent us the information we needed to make an informed decision about Merlen’s treatment – including a long list of formerly treated prostate cancer proton therapy patients. Deb was also compassionate; we could tell she really cared.
Speaking with many former proton therapy patients cinched the deal for us. And then I honestly feel that God began to open doors for us.
We knew that some had to fight their medical insurance providers to get proton treatment out-of-state, and we figured we’d do whatever was necessary to get the best treatment for Merlen. But to our surprise, our insurer approved without any dispute!
Then we worried we’d have to wait weeks or months for a consult with Loma Linda University Cancer Center, our treatment center of choice, but we were able to book an appointment within days!
In February 2016, Merlen began his proton treatment. The atmosphere and our experience at Loma Linda were overwhelmingly positive. We spent most days hiking the nearby mountains, meeting new friends, and actually enjoying ourselves!
We attended patient-run potluck dinners, cooking classes, and other Loma Linda activities. Their “Make Man Whole” holistic healing approach was felt immediately and continued for the duration of our stay. I felt we had been adopted into a “family” of care providers plus the other patients in treatment!
More than six years later, we still feel graced by the experience in so many ways, we refer to it as “beauty from ashes.” What began as one of our darkest hours turned into something beautiful.
Merlen and I will celebrate 64 years of marriage this July. And at 85-years-old, he’s fishing, hiking, camping, gardening, and spending quality time with our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren … and me! I’m so thankful we’ve had these years to grow even more in love and appreciate our health and each other more than ever before.
Merlen and I also thoroughly enjoy reading the BOB Tales monthly newsletter which is sent to all members. It’s the only thing we read cover to cover (besides Costco monthly ads =). It’s full of new information on proton therapy, prostate cancer, and other general health information.
Bob Marckini and Deb Hickey have created a ministry with their “BOB” organization – they don’t work at it like a job – and the difference is that members (and their spouses!) aren’t treated as statistics, but as people who are given the opportunity, regardless of age, to maintain a high-quality life and have hope for the future.
When your husband has cancer, you have cancer; it’s not a disease that is suffered alone. I hope those reading our story will find hope in knowing that proton therapy can deliver radiation directly to the tumor without damaging the healthy tissue around it. As a result, quality of life can be maintained. Merlen had NO incontinence, impotence, pain, or any other side effects like many do with traditional radiation treatment.
Try not to be afraid! And if you do decide on proton treatment at Loma Linda, expect peace, joy, fellowship, and healing!