Treated 2004 • Posted 2005 • Updated 2008 & 2015
Dr. Hillis is a surgeon. When diagnosed with prostate cancer, he did his homework and chose proton therapy. On September 19, 2005, The Florida Daily News did a feature story on his diagnosis and treatment at Loma Linda.
"I have a very close friend who was diagnosed with prostate cancer approximately two years ago. He had heard of Loma Linda and proton treatment from a friend, so he chose to go to Loma Linda as well. He told me about his decision and the reasons he had chosen proton treatment. At the time, I had no idea that I would ever be diagnosed with prostate cancer. I had always been very healthy (still am) and there was absolutely no history of prostate cancer in my family. So I listened to my friend and it sounded like he had made a wise decision, but I did no personal research on the subject. After all, I was healthy with no clue I would have the same choice to make in the very near future.
It happened very quickly. In July 2004, I had a routine PSA test, which was returned as 4.9. My urologist said he didn't think I had prostate cancer, but he felt a biopsy was indicated. The DRE was negative and even after the biopsy he felt that the biopsy would come back negative since he didn't see anything with the ultrasound during the biopsy. When I called back a week later, the nurse said the biopsy had been positive - a Gleason of 6.
As most of us are when we hear that horrible word, I was numb and in shock. I'm too healthy to have prostate cancer and no one else in my family has ever had it. When I came back to reality, I asked my urologist what treatment he would have if he were the patient. Surprise! He said he would have surgery. He didn't recommend any other treatment so I told him I would think about it.
I remembered my friends glowing praise of Loma Linda and his treatment. So I went home and got on the Internet and, as a surgeon would do, researched all of my options. I was quite impressed with the medical research regarding proton treatment. After completing my personal research, the decision was a 'no-brainer' for me . . . proton treatment. I called LLUMC and started the process. After sending my medical records, Loma Linda called back saying I was a candidate and an appointment was made. My wife started calling the various housing choices, and since we had an older dog that we wanted to accompany us, we made reservations at Centrepoint.
We were soon on the road and arrived at Loma Linda on Oct 13. They made a final determination that I was a good candidate and my pod was made. Treatments started one week later, and I was back home in Niceville Florida on the 21st of December.
I have some residual symptoms associated with benign hyperplastic prostatitis (which I had prior to treatment) and some decrease in endurance, but no other significant post treatment problems. I have had two exams since completion of treatment: DRE's negative and PSA falling. As I said in the newspaper article, Loma Linda was a spiritual awakening event as well as a physical treatment. We enjoyed our time there, traveling around southern California and making lots of friends. Since returning, I have had many inquires from others regarding proton treatment and Loma Linda, and I know of at least one other person who has followed my advice and received treatment at Loma Linda. I continue to recommend Loma Linda to people, as I feel proton is the best treatment and Loma Linda is the best place to receive that treatment."
You can email Dr. Hillis at HillisMD@cox.net
Update: April 2008
I continue to live a blessed life. I have absolutely NO complications or side effects from the proton radiation that I received. My DREs are negative and my most recent PSA is now at 0.33. It has continuously decreased approximately 0.50 every six months since leaving Loma Linda. I remain very active, however, I have had knee and shoulder surgery due to overactivity. So I have now become a walker (about 3 miles each day) instead of a runner-jogger. Life is good and my experience at Loma Linda was not only curative without any complications but also life changing from a spiritual standpoint. The development and application of Proton Radiation at Loma Linda has been a blessing from GOD to His children.
Update: May 2015
I am doing great. My PSA has hovered around 0.1 for the last 5 years. I am now almost 11 years post-treatment. I have NO side effects and I am in excellent health. I walk about 4 miles each day and do two days of weight training each week. I still have people calling with questions and requests for advice on prostate cancer treatment. I tell each and everyone that proton therapy is the current gold standard for prostate cancer (as well as several other types of cancer).