In June 2016, Randy Smith from Navarre, Florida began noticing a very slight swollen lymph node that wouldn’t go away after several weeks. His doctor ran several tests and in late July 2016, Randy was diagnosed with Stage 3 throat cancer.
“It stopped me in my tracks. I questioned how I got this,” Randy said.
Many times when someone thinks of throat cancer, they picture a smoker. To the surprise of many, Randy was healthy, never smoked or used tobacco.
After his doctor recommended regular radiation to treat his cancer, Randy began to do his own research. “I had to figure out quickly the best treatment for me,” Randy recalls.
Randy discovered proton therapy was able to precisely target his tumor while sparing surrounding healthy tissue and organs such as his brain, mouth and eyes. Additionally, head and neck cancer patients undergoing proton therapy experience fewer side effects than patients undergoing traditional radiation.
With his parents living in San Antonio, Texas, Randy was highly encouraged to go to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for his treatment. Soon after, Randy received a total of 35 treatments at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center.
He recalls the wonderful care he received at the Proton Therapy Center from Dr. Gunn and his entire team. Marvis helped greatly with the insurance process and his nurse Josh went above and beyond to make the process as seamless as possible for him.
“I had a team of doctors and nurses working with me,” Randy said. “They prepared me for any possible complications by scheduling visits with a dentist, nutritionist and speech therapist.”
By providing comprehensive care, the Proton Therapy Center and its innovative technology helps patients improve their quality of life both during and after cancer treatment.
Having overcome adversity, Randy knows the importance of not taking life for granted. “I’m trying to balance work and life. I make more time for my family because you never know when your day is up,” Randy said.
Today, Randy is back to his active lifestyle. He and his wife, Honey, own and operate a Culver’s Restaurant in Navarre, Florida. After completing his treatment and a brief recovery period, Randy and his family opened their second Culver’s Restaurant in Destin, Florida. When he is not tending to his business, Randy enjoys going hunting and fishing.