Bill's Story: Cycling Through Prostate Cancer Treatment Prostate Cancer

Bill Barbour, a 63-year old New York resident, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May 2011. When his doctor recommended he start to consider treatment options for his prostate cancer, he immediately thought about the effects that the popular treatments for prostate cancer may have on his cycling.

Cycling plays a significant role in Bill's life. Always active, he wasn't ready to let treatment for prostate cancer slow down his life. He sought the advice from a fellow avid cyclist who had undergone treatment for prostate cancer, and his friend related that he wasn't able to ride for an extended period after his treatment.

Bill's thoughts turned to the negative impact that such a layoff from cycling would have on his physical conditioning. It takes top physical conditioning to ride the distances needed for his frequent group rides and for his daily commute to work. He wanted a treatment option for prostate cancer that would minimize any reduction of his cycling activity, so he began researching various treatments for prostate cancer to see if such a treatment existed.

Bill quickly learned about proton therapy for prostate cancer from the excellent book called You Can Beat Prostate Cancer by Robert Marckini. After reading it and doing some more research, he felt that proton therapy would be an effective treatment for his prostate cancer - and could be a treatment that would allow him to maintain his active lifestyle. 

And Bill was right.

"Proton treatment at Penn could not have worked out any better for me," Bill said.

Set on proton therapy, Bill came to Penn Medicine because it was one of the few cancer centers in the nation to offer proton therapy. Through Hosts for Hospitals, he found a gracious family that opened their home in Philadelphia for him during his eight weeks of proton therapy treatments.

Bill acquired a bike and was able to ride from his host's home to his proton therapy sessions at the Penn's Roberts Proton Therapy Center. Thanks to laptop computers and the internet, he was even able to bring his work with him, so he never missed a beat.

"Not only did proton therapy allow me to avoid a lengthy post-surgery layoff from cycling, I was able to regularly include cycling, something so important to me and my lifestyle, in my routine while undergoing my treatment," Bill said. "During each ride I realized how fortunate I was to have gone from the prospect of not being able to sit on a bike seat to having the best seat in the house.

"I rode the scenic Schuylkill River Trail, and I never tired of the great views of center city from the South Street Bridge. Every pedal stroke reminded me that we are truly living in the age of advanced medicine and how important it is for those facing a potentially lifestyle altering treatment decision to consider proton therapy for prostate cancer."

Today, Bill is cancer free and rides with the Abramson Cancer Center cycling team in the Philadelphia LIVESTRONG challenge.