Treated 2012 · Posted 2013

"It was as if we had had a vacation in Southern California and received the cure for my cancer at the same time."

My experience with proton therapy actually started 24 years ago when I took a job and moved about 100 miles away to Roanoke, Virginia. It was there that I met my friend, Jerry (a BOB member), who had been to Loma Linda University Medical Center for proton treatment for his prostate cancer. Jerry's diagnosis was similar to mine and to hear his story with the ease of treatment and the minor side effects remained in my mind until I began to have prostate trouble.

The trouble started in 2008 shortly after I retired. My PSA at that time was 6.8 and shortly thereafter, it increased to 8.3. It was then that I had prostatitis with a lot of pain and soreness which we found was from an infection. With antibiotics, that cleared up and I also had a biopsy which was negative.

Three years later, my PSA started to rise from the 2s to the 5s. That was a larger indication of trouble. I had a second biopsy which showed cancer in 2 out of 10 samples and only on one side of my prostate. With my history, I was not shocked or surprised and accepted the news without the "2x4 up the side of the head" reaction.

At that point, I already knew what I wanted to do and that was to go to LLUMC for the proton treatment. Guess what? My urologist did not give suggest proton as an option and said I was a "perfect candidate" for radical prostate surgery (of course - he is a surgeon). My Gleason was 6 and a T1a, so it was contained in my prostate, with no spread to adjacent areas.

It is important to mention that I feel I received a lot of blessings along the way, even though I had cancer. My first blessing was knowing Jerry. Another blessing was that on the day prior to my cancer diagnosis, my wife and I left our lawyer's office with a check from the sale of a small house we had recently sold. As a result, we had the means to travel to California for the two and a half months of treatments and we were able to rent an apartment. It was as if the Lord knew ahead of time that we would have a need for that money.

Everything for our trip fit together like a beautiful puzzle and the people at LLUMC treated us like family. Their support system was better than we could have imagined. We enjoyed our stay so much that we didn't want to leave when the time came. It was as if we had had a vacation in Southern California and received the cure for my cancer at the same time. I felt fine the entire time. There was fatigue; no soreness or pain; no problem with my appetite or stomach; in fact, I gained some weight that I had to shed when I got home.

My side effects were minor with some frequency and urgency of urination which passed six months later. Since returning home, I have had a little rectal irritation, but again, very minor and not a problem.

My four month check-up showed a PSA of 1.1 which is down from 3.6 prior to my proton treatment.

I am convinced more than ever that my decision to receive proton therapy and to go to Loma Linda University Medical Center was the right one. Now I tell others about this wonderful treatment. In fact, I plan to present to my local VFW about proton therapy and my experience (with use of the BOB PowerPoint presentation). We have a large seminar planned where we will invite men from all the churches and others in our locality. Additionally, a local church has asked me to come there to give my testimony of how God blessed me (us) to find this treatment and receive the cure through proton therapy. My blessing to all men with their prostate problems and my prayer is that they can find out about proton therapy.

Tom Ross