Allan's Story: Fighting Lung Cancer with Protons Lung Cancer

Allan Shuman

Allan Shuman lives life as an adventure. He runs marathons, climbs mountains and travels the world — all upended when he developed a lung cancer tumor the size of a grapefruit — almost overnight. 

"My life ground to a halt," says Allan.

Allan’s initial treatment included chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to remove two-thirds of his right lung. 

“The treatment was brutal, but I thought I was cancer-free and home-free,” he says.

No Such Luck

Just six months after treatment, the lung cancer metastasized into Allan’s lymph nodes. Again, he needed surgery. But this time, the cancer had buried itself so deeply inside Allan’s body that it could not be removed safely.

"My surgeon delivered the message no patient wants to hear — that there was nothing more they could do for me,” says Allan.

Embrace the Struggle. Keep Fighting.

“I walked out of the doctor’s office knowing that I would fight until the end," says Allan. 

He also knew where the fight would take place: Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center. 

In the following video, Allan explains why he made that choice:

The Most Advanced Proton Therapy

At Penn, we had options for treating Allan's cancer. The team agreed that he was an excellent candidate for proton therapy, the most advanced external beam radiotherapy available. It delivers a higher treatment dose while significantly sparing healthy tissue. It's also a great option for people with recurring cancers.

"When I originally had chemo to shrink the lung tumor, it felt like a horse kicked me in the chest. But with proton therapy, the side effects were so minimal, I was able to bicycle to the hospital for treatment," Allan says.

The Roberts Proton Therapy Center at the Abramson Cancer Center is unique in its ability to incorporate breakthrough technology with interdisciplinary translational research.

James Metz, MD, Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology, explains the unique benefits of proton therapy: “Penn has discovered innovative ways to expand radiation treatment for patients previously treated with radiation, with far less collateral tissue damage.”

Three Years and a New Life Later

Every few months, Allan has imaging studies to check for a recurrence, but they have all come back clean. With this good news, Allan's life has been reinvigorated; his sense of adventure renewed.

"In the last year, I have served in the Israel army and visited Jordan and Thailand," he says. "None of it would've been possible without the cancer geniuses at Penn.”