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Proton Therapy Patient Says Thank You

Bill Barbour

Today is the one-year anniversary of my initial proton therapy consultation visit at Penn Medicine. This time last year I was nearing the Thanksgiving holiday with a guarded hopefulness. After being diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier in May, it was time to get moving on a treatment and I wanted to learn more about proton therapy at Penn Medicine.

I was guarded because there were some hurdles to clear. Wanting to have proton therapy and being a good candidate for the treatment are two different things. After my consultation I needed to undergo testing and evaluation to find out if I was a good fit for treatment. I would also need insurance approval.

To complicate everything, I did not live in Philadelphia. Being in New York, I was still 180 miles away, which made a daily commute out of the question. I would need to commute weekly but where was I to stay? Could I afford it? Would I be able to continue working to support my family back home?

The answers to those questions gradually and wonderfully unfolded between Thanksgiving and December holidays last year. I remember thinking that it would be understandable for me to be depressed during the holidays. However, it turned out to be my best holiday season ever as I anticipated starting my proton therapy in the New Year.

On this anniversary I find myself in Philadelphia again for volunteer work, and it has provided me with the time and perspective to consider all that I am thankful for.

I am thankful that I live in America, and that I am fortunate enough to have a job when so many aren’t working. But there is much more for me to be thankful for this time.

Last year I was thankful for the hope to have a chance to survive. This year I am thankful for my post-treatment outcome.

Today, I am disease-free, and my PSA is continuing its downward trend.

I have experienced very minimal effects of proton therapy– almost not worth mentioning. I am forever thankful to many people, without which, my survival could have not happened.

I dedicate this writing to those that helped me get to this anniversary and I owe each of them an un-repayable debt of gratitude. I hope to honor each one as I attempt to pay my debt forward through helping others that may find themselves in a similar position to mine a year ago.

I wish everyone their best Thanksgiving ever.

My special thanks to:

  • My wife and 4 terrific children for allowing me to travel to Philadelphia for 2 months
  • My personal physician for lighting the fire to move my tail (pun intended) and get treatment
  • My employer for allowing me the flexibility to travel to Philadelphia for my treatment
  • Bob Marckini for blazing a well-marked trail for other prostate cancer patients to follow
  • My radiation oncologist for his professional, personal care and medical know-how
  • My Host for Hospitals family – my second family - including their puppy
  • My proton therapists (Proton 2 and 4!) – you guys are the best of the best! Gold medal!
  • The nursing staff – you run an efficient operation, but always take time to deliver personal care
  • The reception staff – nothing happens without you – you are the first smiles of the day
  • My fellow Penn Medicine patients – we had a good time didn’t we? Well didn’t we?
  • The Penn Medicine volunteers – you guys do so much and mean so much to us

About This Blog

The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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