“In 2011, while at a charity golf tournament, I received a call from my doctor telling me I had prostate cancer. Those three simple words, ‘Pat, it’s cancer’ ignited a cycle of fear, uncertainty, doubt—What am I going to do next?”
The good news for Pat was that his cancer was in the early stages and still contained within his prostate. The unanswered question was where to go from there. Pat says his doctor encouraged him to investigate a number of different treatment options. “He said, ‘There’s really not just one answer that I can give you.’ Instead, he recommended several different physicians to talk to.”
Pat notes that sadly, he is not the only man that will have to face this challenge. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in American men. But there’s a new hope in the fight against prostate cancer—a next-generation treatment called proton therapy that’s now regionally available for cancer patients. Proton therapy, like traditional radio therapy, attacks tumors with powerful doses of radiation. But unlike traditional radio therapy, proton therapy allows doctors to precisely target tumors and avoid exposing healthy tissue to excess radiation.
Pat says he considered a wide range of treatment options, from radical prostatectomy to watchful waiting. Ultimately, he determined that proton therapy was the best choice for his active lifestyle.
During his nine-week therapy, he worked full-time from a virtual office close to the center where he received his radiation treatment. His colleagues set up a Web conference protocol. He’d meet with them every morning by webcam and conduct his regular one-on-one meetings as well.
“The radiation took a little bit out of me,” says Pat, “and I probably did not have the same energy level that I normally would have had. Nonetheless, I ran every morning and also found myself biking, swimming and lifting weights. In fact, during my course of treatment, I competed in the Fearless San Diego Triathlon a few hours from the medical center.
“Mentally, this cancer journey is a big deal—you come to grips with your own mortality, and what’s also important is that the people around you come to grips with that too. One of the things that has changed since I returned is my perspective on things—on what’s important, and giving back, and helping other patients who are going through this process.”
Pat’s advice to prospective patients is quite simple: know your PSA level and know your treatment options. While the treatment of prostate cancer should be tailored to each individual’s needs, patients should consult their oncologist to evaluate all of their options and decide the best treatment for their specific case. To find out more about Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and proton therapy, visit sccaprotontherapy.com