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Artie’s Experience, #1: Some Background on My Prostate Cancer and Proton Treatment

Artie, Guest Blogger

June 9, 2016

Seven years ago, my cancerous prostate was removed surgically, and once it was out of my body, my blood tests should have shown non-detectable levels of PSA (prostate-specific antigen, a detector of early prostate cancer), or should have at least stayed below the threshold of 0.2 ng/ml. Since then, my PSA moved from undetectable to 0.1 ng/ml. This past March, it reached 0.2 ng/ml, a level which was confirmed at a recheck two weeks later. This indicates that some cancer cells are still in my body, probably near the original site of the cancerous prostate. Fortunately, a full-body MRI and Bone Scan both showed no metastasis or spread of cancer, so now the plan is to do preventative proton radiation therapy of the prostate region, the most likely location for stray cancer cells still active.

My radiation oncologist is Dr. Scot Ackerman, the head of Ackerman Cancer Center, with offices in Jacksonville and here on Amelia Island. He trained at Columbia University in New York City. He was born in Brooklyn, so he’s got to be a good guy, right?! (I was born and raised in Brooklyn, so I may be biased.) Here is a link to a brief video of this outstanding clinic.

My proton therapy treatment plan involves an 8-week daily program (Monday through Friday) of radiation treatment targeting my prostate bed (where the prostate used to be). My wife Margy and I are very optimistic and positive about the treatment plan. The technology of proton therapy is excellent and very interesting. Basically, there are fewer side effects compared to the X-rays used in conventional radiation, and proton therapy generates a stronger dose at the specific target region while leaving nearby healthy tissues with low to no dose.

Also, Ackerman Cancer Center’s radiation therapists are excellent. The sessions take 20 minutes, although we have to drive about an hour each way for my 8:20 p.m. appointments. Margy and I will get to listen to a lot of audiobooks over the next two months!

My brother Ray always jokes about us older folks who spend too much time talking about our medical issues, and he has a one-minute rule: you can only talk about one ailment a day and for no more than a minute. I think I’m already at my limit, so I’ll stop now and thank you for reading this. Margy and I are in good shape mentally and physically, so we are comfortable taking care of this now, and nipping any potential cancer issues in the bud. In any case, we are entering this treatment plan without worry or fear, and you should not have any either. I’ll keep you posted.

 

All my best to all of you,

Artie

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