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Survivor Spotlight: Joseph Nixon

Ackerman Cancer Center

August 4, 2016

A retired jumbo jet captain, Mr. Joseph Nixon knows something about good crew work. He explains this while discussing the story of his tumor marker implants. The procedure was performed under a CT scanner, and one of the technicians suggested to Dr. Ackerman that they do one more scan to be sure everything was accurate. “Dr. Ackerman agreed with him on the spot and said, ‘That’s a great idea.’ Here at Ackerman Cancer Center, they work like a great team.”

In December 2012, three years before he became a patient at Ackerman Cancer Center, Joseph Nixon ended up in the hospital with a blockage in his intestines. He had exploratory surgery, which found a tumor the size of a golf ball in his colon. It was Stage III Colon Cancer, which had spread to two of his lymph nodes.

At first, Mr. Nixon opted for surveillance methods, including scans and blood work, but after a year, the cancer had spread to his left lung. He started chemotherapy to poor results. After chemotherapy, he had a new PET/CT scan; this one showed that the cancer had spread to his liver and his stomach.

Mr. Nixon and his wife have an adult daughter, and he wanted to continue to be there for both women in his life. He researched his case extensively, looking for the treatment option with the best outcomes for his cancer diagnosis. He learned about proton therapy, which led him to Ackerman Cancer Center in Jacksonville.

“My heart was in my throat because I knew I wanted proton therapy,” Mr. Nixon says. “I was very lucky. Dr. Perkins told me, ‘Yes, you are a candidate for the treatment. We will start with your liver, since this is the biggest and most dangerous tumor, and after that, we will evaluate.’”

In January 2016, Mr. Nixon began proton therapy treatment for his liver tumor. He received 10 treatments, and a week later, came in for a PET scan to evaluate how successful the proton radiation had been.

“At Ackerman Cancer Center, you do not have to wait for weeks to hear the results of a scan,” Mr. Nixon says. “You do not even have to wait overnight. Immediately after my PET scan, I went to the doctor’s office, and in a few minutes, Dr. Perkins and I were looking at my scans on his computer screen. On the left-hand side, I saw my old film with my liver cancer, and on the right, the new one.” His liver had no evidence of disease.

By his second visit to Ackerman Cancer Center, everyone knew Mr. Nixon by name. “The therapists who do the proton therapy are more than fantastic,” the retired air captain exclaims. “They are very, very professional and extremely precise, to ensure that the treatment goes as perfectly and smoothly as possible.”

He experienced this all again in his second course of treatment, this time for his lung nodules. Today, his lung has no recurrence of cancer.

“For me,” he explains, “Ackerman Cancer Center is not a medical facility. For me, it is a healing place. Everyone is there to help you. Every staff member is very nice—they know you are a patient and that you therefore deserve attention and care. They have exceeded my expectations, and they continue to do so.”

To learn more about testing and treatment options, contact Ackerman Cancer Center’s New Patient Coordinator.

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