Terry Lavy, a retired University of Arkansas professor received an alarming phone call from his urologist in March 2008 letting him know he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“My first reaction was shock and disbelief,” Terry said. “I hadn’t been experiencing any symptoms and had no reason to believe anything was wrong.”
The 72-year-old Fayetteville resident sat down with his local urologist to discuss his treatment options. While researching his options, Terry heard from a friend who had just received proton therapy treatment at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center.
“I was anxious about having surgery, using a catheter and the side effects of the treatment options I had discussed with my doctor,” he said. “But, when my friend told me proton therapy is non-invasive, has virtually no side effects and works just as well as other radiation options with no hospitalization, I knew this was the route I wanted to go.”
Immediately, Terry called MD Anderson to inquire about proton therapy and scheduled an appointment. In July of 2008, Terry and his wife rented a RV at a nearby park just eight minutes from the Proton Therapy Center.
“I really enjoyed staying there,” he said. “Since we were close to the treatment facility, and I was able to wake up early every morning to fish in their pond and do things I enjoy before my appointment.”
Terry received proton radiation five days a week for a total of 38 treatments over a two-month period. After his last session, he rang the ceremonial gong symbolizing the end of his proton therapy treatment. Terry said he was most impressed with how easy his treatment was.
Terry’s physician, Seungtaek Choi, MD and assistant professor of Radiation Oncology noted that “proton therapy was an excellent treatment choice for Terry’s cancer because the reduced risk of side effects would allow him to continue his life and enjoy his past time of fishing and spending time with his grandchildren.” He also said that “Terry is doing well and hasn’t experienced adverse side effects.”
“I never felt any pain, weakness or other adverse physical effects from the treatment,” he said. “The lack of fatigue is evident because one cannot differentiate between those patients receiving their first treatment or their 38th. Some people received treatment while still working a full time job and others regularly played 18 holes of golf after each treatment. We all felt fine!”
Now, more than three years after he completed treatment, Terry is feeling great and shows no sign of disease. His PSA score before treatment was 5.1 and since treatment it has not been above 0.1.
Terry said he is grateful for the professionalism of the doctors and staff at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center and the camaraderie of the other patients receiving treatment, some of whom he still keeps in touch with. Terry’s wife, Bonnie, made friendships with several families of children being treated for brain tumors at the Proton Therapy Center.
Since receiving proton therapy, Terry has made it his duty to share his story and tell other prostate cancer patients about the option of proton treatment. Over the years, he has referred over 20 people for proton therapy treatment.
“I am so fortunate to have heard about proton therapy, so now I want to be sure to pass my knowledge and experience on to others,” he said. “I’m convinced proton radiation is the way to go.”