My name is Jim Tincher. I was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2019. You might say the way I found out about it was … well, an accident. I was standing outside one day – and the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital. I had a seizure and blacked out completely, falling on my face on the concrete. The medical staff who treated me in the ICU told me later they assumed I had gone through the windshield of a car. The injuries from the fall were that extensive. My eye was so severely damaged, they had to induce a coma to repair it and, more importantly, to run tests to determine the cause of the seizure.
After a lot of imaging and tests, we were given the news no one ever wants to hear: you have brain cancer. My wife immediately burst into tears. I was numb. Before the reality had fully set in, I was scheduled for brain surgery. The surgeons told us they would remove as much of the tumor as possible without risking – another word you never want to hear – paralysis.
WHY PROTON THERAPY WAS – YOU GUESSED IT – A NO-BRAINER
The type of brain cancer I have is called oligodendroglioma. There’s no cure for it, but it’s one of the most treatable brain cancers. I’m grateful for that because I intend to have as much quality of life as I can with the time I have left. I knew that the treatment I went with would play a significant role in that – so I started asking questions and educating myself.
When the first oncologist I met with recommended traditional radiation, I asked about proton therapy. He immediately discouraged it, but I felt strongly that I had to advocate for myself and my quality of life. Fortunately, I had a friend who worked at Oklahoma Proton Center, so I called, and she helped me get scheduled for an appointment. After I met the people there and learned more about the treatment, I knew it was the right place. We’re talking about my brain here – so there was no question I wanted to go with the option that would most precisely treat the tumor and not harm healthy tissue. After completing my six weeks of proton therapy, there was no doubt I had made the right choice.
FEAR BECAME INSPIRATION
Because there is still a part of the tumor left on my brain, I continue to go for scans every three months. But so far, so good. This diagnosis has changed my life in so many ways – including my career. When my symptoms first started appearing, I had to be transported by ambulance. In one of my greatest moments of fear and confusion, there was an EMT who really impacted me. He cared for me in a way that let me know I was in good hands. I can still see his face to this day. Right then, in that ambulance, I decided that I wanted to become an EMT. I wanted to make that kind of impact on someone’s life – and possibly even save one. I’m proud to say I will graduate as an EMT in January of 2021.
Look, I know what the statistics are, what the averages are. I know what science has to say about my odds. But I have every intention of trying to skew those statistics as much as I can. I have too much to live for. Thanks to proton therapy, I can continue to not only fight to survive but fight for a life worth living.