September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in the US: this week, find out how state-of-the-art proton therapy is helping men avoid debilitating side effects and lead a normal life after a prostate cancer diagnosis.
MAN WITH PROSTATE CANCER CHOOSES PROTON THERAPY
62-year-old Max Searcy of Marysville, Kansas chose to travel to Oklahoma City to receive proton therapy after seeing his father and brother struggle through prostate cancer treatment and its complications.
Max discovered he had prostate cancer during a routine checkup in 2015. Respectively two years and two decades earlier, his brother and father had battled the same cancer. He went to see his urologist to begin evaluating his options: “surgery, radiation, cryotherapy, active waiting. No mention about protons at the time,” Max said. Of course the first objective when facing a prostate cancer diagnosis is defeating the cancer, but men soon discover that many treatment forms come with significant side effects, such as urinary and bowel dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, loss of fertility and more. Max continued to research and wait, then he bumped into an acquaintance who had gone through proton therapy for prostate cancer. He eventually set up an appointment at the Oklahoma City proton center and began planning his treatment with his wife, as it required being away from family and work for almost 9 weeks. The couple stayed in Oklahoma during the week and traveled home to Kansas every weekend. Now nearly finished with treatment, Max has no regrets. “Life is fragile. I am looking forward to ringing the bell, and joining the brotherhood of alumni. I will forever be a proton advocate,” he said.
CANCER FREE AFTER REVOLUTIONARY TREATMENT
Steve Simon, a successful real estate developer from Louisiana, USA recently completed a course of proton therapy treatment after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
When Steve isn’t working, he’s traveling to romantic getaways with his wife of 45 years or hanging out with his kids and grandkids. Things were going along pretty well for him until about a year ago when an annual physical revealed he had prostate cancer. His first thought was to have his prostate removed but he decided that may be too harsh. “I’ve known several people that have had the surgery. It’s a difficult surgery. It leaves some unpleasant side effects. I decided I really didn’t want to do that,” he said. After researching his options for six months, he decided proton therapy would best fit his needs. For 44 days, Steve went to Willis Knighton 5 days a week for about an hour each time. As the procedure was painless, non-invasive, and had little to no side effects, Steve chose to share his story even though he’s a private person: “if it helps other people that’s why I’m here because I really believe that this is a very positive treatment and people need support.” Steve is now cancer-free, but he will continue monitoring for the next 5 years.
KNOWING THE SIGNS OF PROSTATE CANCER
Mike Bible, a 71-year-old veteran and former patient at ProCure in Oklahoma city, is encouraging men to know the risk factors and early signs of prostate cancer.
Mike was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013 during a physical for the Veterans Administration (VA). Given the potential risks and aggressive nature of his prostate cancer, his urologist recommended 3 treatment options: robotic surgery, brachytherapy seeds or proton therapy. “I decided on proton therapy because it was the least invasive and had minimal side effects,” said Mike. “I received proton therapy treatment for 2 months and it didn’t interfere in my day-to-day life. I could still play with my grandkids, go on walks with my wife and do everything I did before prostate cancer.” Since completing treatment 3 years ago, Mike has spoken about prostate cancer and proton therapy’s benefits to his church, his PTSD support group for veterans, at the Oklahoma Capitol and with many other individuals from across the state. “Until you are in the situation where you have prostate cancer, it is hard to anticipate the kind of treatment or care you will need,” he said. “My hope is to share my experience with others so they know the risks of prostate cancer, what to watch for and understand all of their treatment options.”