Keeping a Promise: Creating a Network of Cancer Treatment Advocates

Fifteen years ago, Bob Marckini watched his older brother enter the hospital for prostate surgery a healthy, tall, and physically fit man, and emerge hours later a completely different person. He had tubes, drains and catheters seemingly everywhere and his face was gray.   “I was with him in the recovery room and what I saw there is still etched in my mind today,” recalled Marckini. “It was then I made a promise to myself that if I was ever diagnosed with prostate cancer, I would find less barbaric options.”

Three years later, Marckini was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His doctor offered limited options, so he turned to the internet to find treatment alternatives. “I was a senior officer in a Fortune 500 company and I approached the research the same way I would my job,” he said. “I always encouraged my people when looking at a new product to ask current and past customers if they were happy with the product and service.”

So Marckini reached out to prostate cancer survivors. “When I started talking to them, it really opened my eyes, because the surgery patients were giving me a very different story than the one I was hearing from my urologist,” said Marckini. “Their quality of life was compromised and a couple ev

en had to go back for follow-up surgery. It was through this vetting process that I stumbled upon information about Proton Therapy.”

Marckini interviewed about 50 prostate cancer survivors. Those who had undergone Proton Therapy shared similar stories. All of them had positive experiences with the treatment and no compromise to their quality of life. Armed with that information, Bob and his wife flew to Loma Linda University Medical Center for a consultation.

“We were blown away,” he said. “And I made my decision right there to get Proton Therapy treatment. But that’s how I found out. Not one of my doctors told me about protons.”

After successfully completing Proton Therapy treatment, Marckini, along with a group of prostate cancer patients, formed The Brotherhood of the Balloon (BOB). Today, the organization boasts more than 6,000 members from all 50 states and 33 countries.

“The purpose of the BOB is to be a resource not only for men diagnosed with prostate cancer, but for their families,” said Marckini. “Our mission is to promote Proton Therapy worldwide and provide people with answers during a time of stress, given to them from people who have been there.”

BOB offers a number of resources which includes a monthly newsletter, patient testimonials, frequently asked questions, a blog, and a presentation that members can share with others about prostate cancer, treatment options with a focus on Proton Therapy.

“I want people to be informed about Proton Therapy and not to have to go through what I did to find out about it,” said Marckini. “We hope the BOB can be a resource not only for people who just received their diagnosis, but also for those who have completed their treatment and want to share their experiences.”

Marckini adds, “One of the most frequently asked questions we get when a person is diagnosed with prostate cancer is, ‘Am I going to die?’ And I answer, ‘You’ll die someday. But it’s not going to be from prostate cancer.’”


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