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