Monday, May 12, 2008
Before showing you the pictures, Let me give you an update on my PSA levels. Just prior to the start of proton therapy on December 5, my PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) was 4.4. On the last day of treatment my PSA was 3.3, a significant reduction. Three months after the end of treatment, on May 2, I again had blood drawn. My PSA is now at 0.2 and I couldn't be happier. You can find more information about PSA at Cancer.gov
Back to the last day of treatment, February 1, 2008...
We gathered with friends after I had an early treatment (my 40th) for a celebratory dinner. From the left, Forrest, Paul, myself, and Paul (Gene didn't get in the picture). In late afternoon we left the party for my last treatment. Anita had determined to make some photos of the process, so she borrowed Linda's camera and brought it into the treatment room.
Yours truly posing with the "Yellow" gantry in which I received my last treatment. Of the three, the Yellow is devoted to prostate treatments, while the others ("Blue" and "Red") handle patients with a variety of conditions treatable by proton therapy. All of my treatments except this last were in the "Blue" gantry.
After I climb onto the bed, the saline solution is introduced and a preliminary alignment is done by laser LEDs using the targets marked on my hips. The bed will then be rotated 180 degrees and for the preliminary x-ray and treatment.
The device on the right is the x-ray machine. Prior to each treatment an x-ray is made and evaluated to be sure that the target (my cancerous prostate) is in the proper position to be zapped. The device on the left delivers the proton beam the the victim -- I mean, the subject -- on the platform. Notice the brass ring in the lower-left of the picture: this is a part of the focusing device used to ensure proper application of the treatment.
As we were leaving, Gary Barlow was interviewing a new radiation technician. We got a picture of them. Gary was very helpful, always doing what he could to make sure our treatment was on time and handled in good order. Gary has become a very good friend.
Kristi was my case worker. Kristi helped us get our records together, scheduled the various tests needed for evaluation, and organized our time at the center. Each week she would gather medical data for my appointment with Dr. Henderson.
After receiving my last treatment, we came back to Paul and Marilyn's house to show off my graduation certificate, and one of the proton beam diffusers that had been used for the two months.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Anita also came with, and took some pix of my last treatment. I'll post them in the near future. Right now, we're gonna get ready to leave for Tennessee early in the morning. Thanks to all who have been praying for us; we feel very blessed in this entire process.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Worst part of this past week has been a bad cold I picked up on Wednesday. It still lingers, but I'm feeling a bit better today. I guess I'll have to blame it on "the bug going around" and not the therapy; lots of folks at church were affected, and even one of the staff at the Institute. I hope to be "out and about" tomorrow or the next day. Fortunately treatment is not affected; I do have to hold still and not sneeze, however.
I haven't described what the treatment is like, so let me do that. Tomorrow I'm scheduled for a 7:40 AM. We'll get up shortly after six and try to get on the road by 6:40. It takes about 20-25 minutes to drive to the Institute. I will check in, drink my water, then chat with other patients until I'm called to the back. Once there, I change into a hospital gown and proceed into the treatment gantry. I get onto the platform, the radiation technicians align my body using targets drawn on my hips, and I am placed into the correct position for the treatment. Before they "shoot me" with the Proton beam, X-rays are made to ensure that the target -- the cancer in my prostate -- is aligned properly. Two weeks before my treatment regimen started, three gold seeds were implanted in my prostate, for use with the x-rays in determining the exact spot where the proton beam needs to deliver its dose.
After all this alignment, the actual radiation is anti-climatic. The technicians go out to the control room, the beam is started, and a few minutes later they're back. Mission accomplished, I get my appointment time for the next treatment, get back into street clothes, and am on my way out the door. Total time: as little as 30 minutes, but it can take longer if there happen to be any equipment or scheduling problems. I think I've mentioned before that the staff here is wonderful, and that these people, being treated for cancer, are the most "up-beat" cancer patients you'll see anywhere. This whole experience has been eye-opening for us, and I'm hopeful that more folks will be able to take advantage of Proton Therapy.
Friday, January 18, 2008
CSX had a problem last night with the crossing gates at Timuquana and spent all day today working on them. Slow orders for all trains made for some short-tempered motorists and a few delays, but we all got where we were going even if it took a bit longer. Sometimes it's good to be a railfan; we enjoy being stopped by trains.
Thursday evening we went out with our fellow Proton Patients for dinner. We really enjoy the friends we've made here. Met some folks yesterday who, like Anita and I, grew up in Wisconsin. Like us, they're looking forward to the Championship game Sunday between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Gnomes..er, Giants. If you're not too busy, and live nearby, I understand they need folks to shovel snow off of Lambeau field. FYI, no snow in Jacksonville.
One of the great things about Proton Therapy for prostate cancer is that it isn't debilitating. Those of us undergoing treatment are able to do all the things we were before (I still can't play the piano) and have been able, in most cases, to behave as though this whole thing is a vacation. Anita and I continue to thank God that He led us to the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I had an early treatment on Wednesday, so afterwards we decided to go over to the beach since the day was so nice. In addition to several fisherman with their lines in the surf, we watched this shrimper doing his thing off-shore. It was a beautiful day, and we really enjoyed wandering up and down the beach. Anita got a ton of sea shells.
Friday, January 04, 2008
New friends from Chattanooga, Paul and Patti, drove down on New Years Eve for Paul's three-day workup. We got together for dinner at the Stonewood Grille and got to know one another; had a grand evening. The next day we watched Tennessee beat Wisconsin before driving to the (temporary) home of Paul and Marilyn to join them and Gene and Linda for a wonderful traditional Southern lunch. A blessing of God, who works all things to the good of those who love Him, is the many Christian friends He brings into our lives.
Here in Jacksonville, the Institute staff organize a weekly "Restaurant Tour." To this point my treatment schedule have precluded our taking part, but last evening we joined the group at Bourbon Bayou, a New Orleans-style eating place at Jacksonville Landing. We enjoyed an evening of good food and fellowship with our fellow Proton Pilgrims. Thanks to Gerry and Katie for setting it up.
We've been enjoying, as best we can, our time here in Jacksonville. December weather has been wonderful, right up to the last days of the year. Yesterday was quite cool, with a cold wind blowing. I even got to use the old jacket I brought along. Today was nicer, and the radio promises mid-seventies once again by Sunday. Anita and I wish you all the best in the New Year. God Bless us, every one.