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Conquest - Summer 2009

Receiving Treatment Closer to Home an Easy Choice

By David Berkowitz

Doug Rathe knows the importance of doing his homework. Over the course of 38 years as an engineer for Shell Oil, his inquisitive nature and research skills were put to the test every day.

When diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2008, Rathe used those attributes to decide what treatment course to follow. He studied information on
M. D. Anderson’s Internet site. He asked his doctors lots of questions. He discussed his options with friends.

Doug Rathe rings the bell, celebrating
the end of his radiation treatments.

In the end, he selected radiation therapy over surgery. And when given the choice of receiving therapy at M. D. Anderson’s Radiation Treatment Center in The Woodlands or at the institution’s main campus in the Texas Medical Center, it was an easy choice.

“Choosing a 20-mile roundtrip over a 40-mile roundtrip and not having to face that heavy Houston traffic made it an easy decision,” says the 65-year-old retiree who lives near Tomball, Texas, with his wife. “My experience at The Woodlands facility was excellent. I know I made the right choice.”

Rathe recently completed 38 treatments at The Woodlands RTC, one of six Houston-area satellite locations that deliver M. D. Anderson’s standard of care closer to where many patients live.

During his Monday-through-Friday treatment routine, Rathe’s inquisitive nature was evident. His radiation oncologist, Pamela Schlembach, M.D., and other care team members patiently answered his questions about the equipment and procedures being used to deliver his treatments.

Rathe was on a first-name basis with many of the staff members, including a nurse who is a NASCAR fan. A NASCAR enthusiast himself, Rathe and a group of 11 former Shell co-workers have a 15-year tradition of driving to the Talladega (Ala.) 500. This year’s race conflicted with his treatment schedule, but that didn’t stop him from finding a solution.

“I asked Dr. Schlembach if there was any way we could change the timing of my last treatment so I could attend the race with my friends, and she was able to adjust my schedule,” Rathe says.

“My friends met me at the center on that final day. I put on my No. 29 hat (representing driver Kevin Harvick of the Shell-Pennzoil racing team), rang the bell to signify a successful completion to my treatment, and said ‘I’m off to Talladega.’ Then everyone wished me good luck. It was pretty special.”

Patients may speak with their physicians about treatment at one of
M. D. Anderson’s satellite locations.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center