Treated 2001 • Posted 2002 

"By then my PSA was 23 and prostate size up to 142 gm. We claim everything is bigger in Texas, but I felt this was a bit extreme."

My journey into prostate problems began in 1992. A neighbor was diagnosed with pc and told me he had a psa of 150!!!. After further discussions with the neighbor, I requested my internist run a psa on me. When it came back 6.8, I was sent post haste to the nearest urologist. The Uro was alarmed at the high psa, but the subsequent biopsy was clear. The uro thought the psa was probably due to an enlarged prostate, which weighed in at 92gm. Per the sonogram. Over the next nine years my psa jumped up and down, but biopsies every couple of years were all clear. Finally in March of 2001 the other shoe dropped and the biopsies indicated cancer in a small part of one sample, T1c and Gleason of 3+3. By then my psa was 23 and prostate size up to 142gm. (We claim everything is bigger in Texas, but I felt this was a bit extreme).

Since I was 74 at the time the Uro did not recommend surgery but rather to go on Lupron for the rest of my life. A little research convinced me that was not something I could tolerate. After I decided radiation would be my best option, the Uro sent me to "the best radiotherapist in Dallas". From that time on I felt that my guardian angle began to take over.

With an M.D. from Stanford, a PhD in medical physics from Berkley, and being the Chairman of Radiation Oncology of a major University teaching hospital, this kindly Doctor was a real find and someone in whom I had complete faith. During my consultation he mentioned proton radiation as a viable option, although he only had photon at his hospital. (I later learned that he came to Dallas in the late 1980's to set up a proton medical facility as a part of the Super Collider program, but was subsequently cancelled along with the SuperCollider).

After much thought, I called him back and posed the question "if you were in my shoes, what treatment would you choose?" His reply was "if on the West Coast I would go to Loma Linda." I said that's for me. He forwarded my file to Dr. Rossi and I was accepted in the proton program.

My wife and I drove out to Loma Linda to begin my treatment on September 13, 2001. We received the 9/11 news while driving to a planned stopover in Kingman, AZ. The highway from Hoover Dam to Kingman had been closed for security reasons. I must admit feeling a bit anxious while crossing the Colorado River below Hoover Dam on the morning of 9/12.

My subsequent time at Loma Linda echoes all of the fine experiences described by all other brothers; caring treatment, friendly staff and genuine concern for the patients well being. The personal association with fellow balloonists, frank and humorous Wednesday night meetings, and the great dinners all add to our fond memories. Nice diggings at Loma Linda Springs help round out the experience.

The trip also provided us with lots of family visiting with daughters in Mill Valley (S.F. Bay area) and Santa Barbara, wife's sister in Riverside, and 3 grand nieces and nephew nearby.

Since my 16 proton/28 photon schedule I have continued to receive Lupron each 3 months with September 2003 completing the recommended two post radiation years. Except for Lupron side effects, I have had no treatment side effects either during or since completion of radiation. My current psa is 0.12, heavily biased from the Lupron effects, I am sure.

Subsequent to returning to Texas my Uro retired and I began seeing a younger Uro from the same office. His reaction to my going to Loma Linda for treatment was "you made an excellent choice."

My advice to anyone considering radiation for p.c. is Go Proton. Physics is in your favor and the L.L. treatment is unsurpassed.

In closing, as an adjunct to Norm Elder’s imaginative and humorous balloon plaque, I would like to pass on my thoughts to fellow balloonists regarding the treatment protocol. I feel sure that after the first live pod experience, all can relate . . .


That fateful message,
I did not want to hear
You have prostate cancer,
In a place near your rear.

My search for a cure,
Contradictions abound.
Professionals no help,
Needed solution profound.

No cutting, no seed
No hormones no freeze
In my search for a cure
It’s PROTONS, if you please.

The regimen was strict,
Into that damn pod.
Then comes the balloon,
To me it seemed odd.

Unscheduled delays,
That water so filling.
Resulted in moments,
That could have been chilling.

The techs were most kind,
Treatments often protracted.
But deflate they all did,
Before the balloon was extracted.

Then the most crucial,
Exit that pod with care.
To protect private parts,
That all do hold dear.

But survive I did,
Though much up to chance.
No pee in the pod
No pee in the pants.

I had marveled so much,
Albuquerque’s balloons on high.
A most wondrous sight,
A yen to so fly.

Me up in a balloon,
A dream don’t you see?
But the fickle finger of fate,
Put the balloon up in me.

As the years wear on,
Mind slippage comes soon.
But through lifetime we’ll be,
Bonded, by that damn balloon.

Tom Norman (BOB) November 14, 2001

Thomas Norman - Richardson, Texas