“My cancer journey was relatively smooth compared to the battles others endure, when denied the best available treatment by the very people they trust to ensure access to healthcare – their insurer. It shouldn’t be that way. For each man I have counseled concerning prostate cancer, my unequivocal recommendation is ‘proton therapy treatment.’”
As my wife and I were preparing to go on a cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, I was experiencing severe leg pain. Knowing there would be a lot of walking on the cruise excursions; I scheduled an appointment with our family practitioner to see if I could get some relief in order to fully enjoy our much-anticipated vacation.
After the cruise, the family practitioner called and asked me to come to his office as some of the blood work was a little suspicious. “Oh, no, this will not be good news,” I thought. My PSA levels had come back high, so he recommended I see a urologist for a consultation. Following the biopsy, the urologist promptly recommended surgery. I had prostate cancer.
Surgery was scheduled. When the urologist mentioned several possible side effects, explaining how each could be corrected, my thought leaving was, “He already has the next three surgeries lined up!” Skepticism mandated researching all options.
A friend of mine suggested reading a blog that his boss had written about proton therapy. In reading about the treatment, it seemed, I might be a good candidate. (I wasn’t too keen on going the surgical route, anyway.) A book titled, “You Can Beat Prostate Cancer and You Don’t Need Surgery to Do It” by Robert J. Marckini, gave a very good explanation of the prostate and the various treatments available. It helped me to understand that proton therapy was the way to go.
Contact was made with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to meet with the team at the proton center. As it turned out, the oncologist I met in Houston confirmed that proton therapy was the ideal treatment for my prostate cancer diagnosis. Home away from home became an apartment found through Houston area churches that minister to cancer patients at M.D. Anderson by renting apartments, at reduced rates, for the time needed. For the next nine weeks, Houston became home, in order to undergo proton therapy.
While receiving the 40 treatments, I never missed a beat. I got up each morning and walked for about an hour and a half. I never felt fatigued, nor did I experience any negative side effects.
While my health insurer immediately approved my proton therapy, I know that is not the case for many patients dealing with this scary diagnosis. I had retired from one employer, yet, was able to keep my insurance with United Healthcare, who approved coverage for my cancer treatment with no questions asked.
I am beginning my 10th year of cancer free living. My family physician does routine DRE and blood tests, to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned. My cancer journey was relatively smooth compared to the battles others endure, when denied the best available treatment by the very people they trust to ensure access to healthcare – their insurer. It shouldn’t be that way. For each man I have counseled concerning prostate cancer, my unequivocal recommendation is “proton therapy treatment.”