Volunteering right from the start
After he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Drew Cox didn’t wait to finish treatment before he knew he wanted to give back in some way—by being a weekly volunteer at the Proton Therapy Center. Drew “loves helping people, even if it’s with something simple.”
In February 2010 at the age of 48, Drew went to see his general physician for a routine check up, where it was discovered that he had an elevated PSA level of 5.2. His doctor recommended that he see a urologist, but Drew decided to wait a few weeks and get his PSA rechecked. This time it was 6.0.
With his doctor strongly urging him to have a biopsy taken, Drew made an appointment with a urologist. The results of his biopsy were positive for prostate cancer.
Drew’s urologist suggested surgery, but the potential side effects made it clear to him that surgery wasn’t the best treatment option for him.
I was shocked but not worried
“I was shocked by the diagnosis but not worried,” Drew said. “Because I knew exactly where I wanted to be treated—MD Anderson.”
Drew was aware of the treatment options for prostate cancer including proton therapy because his sister is an employee at MD Anderson. So just before Thanksgiving, Drew scheduled a consultation with Seungtaek Choi, M.D. and assistant professor in the department of Radiation Oncology. In January of 2011 Drew began his proton therapy treatments.
“Because of Drew’s young age and his active lifestyle, proton therapy was an excellent treatment option for him” said Dr. Choi. “Proton Therapy allowed Drew to continue living his life while receiving treatment and we appreciate his commitment as a volunteer to our center.”
“I had a blast at the Proton Center. Everyone there is great, and the team makes you feel like family,” Drew said of his experience.
Continuing to work during treatment
Drew never experienced any side effects from his treatment and continued his work as a real estate evaluator while undergoing proton therapy. But it wasn’t just the staff and the treatment process that had a lasting impact on Drew: “the best thing was the camaraderie among patients.”
Developing friendships along the way
Drew established deep friendships with other patients, so much so that he decided while still in treatment that he wanted to be a volunteer at the Proton Therapy Center so that he could help others. “I saw a need and wanted to fill it,” he said.
Making ProtonPals patient support group what it is today
In addition to volunteering at the Proton Therapy Center, Drew is on the board of ProtonPals, a support and outreach group for men undergoing proton therapy for prostate cancer, and he arranges Wednesday night dinners that are open to all proton therapy patients and their families. The dinners provide an outlet for patients to talk openly about their cancer journey with people in similar situations, and it’s a way for family members and spouses to come together and share their experiences as caregivers.
Drew started his treatment in January, so we asked him what his news year’s resolution was. His answer: “To work hard and play harder, to love and enjoy life. After all, what else are we here to do?”
Because of Drew’s young age and his active lifestyle, proton therapy was an excellent treatment option for him. Proton Therapy allowed Drew to continue living his life while receiving treatment and we appreciate his commitment as a volunteer to our Center.”
Dr. Seungtaek Choi
Associate Professor, Radiation Oncology