“This successful treatment did more than rid me of cancer, it allows me to continue to enjoy the heck out of life and living.”
-Richard Hoe – Prostate Cancer Survivor
As I write this during the third week of March, I realize by the time this newsletter is distributed, the circumstances we are all living under may have changed again. During the past week, we have seen our lives impacted first by the loss of luxuries such as sports and entertainment cancellations, then further restrictions on nice-to- haves such as bars, restaurants and gym access and now to necessities like schools and groceries and the confounding scarcity of toilet paper.
My emotions have evolved as all of ours have from frustration and incredulity, to capitulation, and, finally to commitment to try to blunt the impact of COVID-19, not only on our way of life but other’s actual lives who may have underlying health issues. An emotion that I have frequently is one of appreciation —an appreciation for all of those things that have temporarily been taken away. I realize how fortunate we all are to live in a world and society that is so interdependent on the services of one another.
I have an appreciation for all of the luxuries and nice-to-haves that we so often take for granted. Finally, an appreciation for the people most close to me including family, friends and the folks at
the Oklahoma Proton Center. The staff at the Oklahoma Proton Center have been taking care of patients for over 10 years. The average tenure for our staff is 7.5 years, which ranks as one of the most experienced proton staffs in the world. They have been taking care of patients who are sick, weak and compromised for a long time and with a positive attitude and commitment. So, I remain assured that this current crisis will be overcome. Our lives will get back to normal, and the staff at OPC will remain diligent to mitigate any potential virus contamination so that they can stay on watch and in a position to continue to help patients stricken with cancer. It’s a special place with special people and important to the community we are all a part of, and I am thankful
to be a part of it.
Sincerely, Tom Welch
THE REASON I SHARE…
In late 2010, after being diagnosed with cancer of the prostate, I began researching my options.
With so many treatments available, my first step was to speak with men who had been treated for prostate cancer in various ways. I spoke with men who had received radioactive seeds (brachytherapy), prostate removal, and traditional radiation.
Virtually all of these men shared stories of the long-lasting side effects of their treatment choices.
I turned to articles, websites, and books still looking for answers. After about two months of extensive study and thought, in early 2011, I made one of the best decisions of my life. Proton therapy.
Living in Tulsa, and not knowing for sure how I’d feel during treatment, I rented an apartment near the Center and a book store, (I really like bookstores) for two-plus months. Although I had been told I would experience few, if any side effects during treatment, I was surprised at how close to normal my life remained. I fell into a routine that worked for both my personal and professional life. I spent the weekends with my family and Monday mornings at my office back in Tulsa. I would then travel to the Center for my first treatment of each week at 2 PM. I did client work at the Barnes & Noble café nearby and stayed in touch with my office by email and cellphone. On Fridays, the Center gave me early- morning appointments. Early-morning appointments meant that I could get back to Tulsa for lunch with clients and spend some time in the office. (As to the office, I’m a financial advisor and writer; in 2011, I had three staff employees). My treatment never slowed me down from my life outside of my diagnosis. Yes, I was displaced in terms of location, but the staff worked with my schedule to ensure my appointment times worked best for my situation.
My PSA readings have been dandy since my treatment (I had a great test result just this week). I have had zero side effects, other than being a bit tired the last week of treatment and the next few weeks after I returned home.
I am still a financial advisor and writer, although I merged my investment practice into Capital Asset Management, Inc., an OKC-based firm five years ago. And, at age 80, I still play drums weekly at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. I’m a lifelong jazz fiend.
I owe my happy life to Oklahoma Proton Center and to proton therapy. The people there are terrific; I have only wonderful things to say about them.
Tragically, two younger half-brothers died from prostate cancer since my treatment. I didn’t know either had prostate cancer until long after their diagnoses. Unfortunately, many of us are sensitive about sharing information about cancer until it’s too late. I was recently able to help a younger sister who did share timely information, and she said it made a profound difference in her recovery and outlook. This is the reason I share my story and encourage others to share theirs as well.
I’m always hesitant to brag about “beating” cancer, but can say with near certainty, proton therapy saved my life. This successful treatment did more than rid me of cancer, it allows me to continue to enjoy the heck out of life and living. Without the burden of long- term side effects, I’m still working in the investment world part-time, playing drums here and there, and am working at finishing my third book.
“The thing I like most about my work at OPC is that we all share the same vision and mission for our patients”
Originally hired to care for international pediatric patients and their families, Diana Schaeffer joined our nursing staff in 2012. Diana earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from West Texas State University before she went on to earn a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Oklahoma and a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Frontier University, Diana served
as Chief of Nursing for the Oklahoma State Department of Health for over 10 years. Prior to her time with the OSDH, Diana worked as a medical consultant in the Middle East. When asked what led her to her current profession, Diana gives the credit to her sister-in-law; although she claims it’s a long story!
Upon joining the team at OPC, Diana became the only Advanced Practice RN in the state of Oklahoma in the field of radiation oncology. When asked what she enjoys most about her work, she didn’t hesitate with a response, “… we all share the same vision and mission for our patients,” she states, proudly. Diana has one son and one stepdaughter. Her husband is a pharmacist. “Family is important”, says Diana, “especially my two granddaughters, whom I relish spoiling and returning to their parents!” When she’s not caring for patients or spending time with family, you’ll often find Diana cruising around on her Harley-Davidson. While she’s driven miles and miles across the US on her bike, she hopes to visit Fiji and Tahiti someday.
PROTON PALS FOUNDATION UPDATE
“Our services will continue because cancer patients & their families need us now more than ever!” – Les Fout, PPF Director
On behalf of the board and staff at Proton Pals Foundation, we want to let you know that each of you, your families, and friends are in our thoughts during this great time of uncertainty in the life of our world. We have all been impacted by COVID-19.
Whether it’s our place of employment, favorite restaurant or place of worship, everything and everyone has been impacted. At Proton Pals Foundation, our focus is to provide access to proton therapy (co-pays, medical bills), basic needs, (housing, transportation and food), and survivorship programs. In addition, our team is currently securing personal protective equipment (PPE) for Oklahoma Proton Center.
First, we are rescheduling two events: Survivorship Night with the OKC Dodgers and the Barry Switzer Dinner at the Skirvin Hotel. Once we finalize those dates for later this year, we will let you know.
Secondly, we are here to help. If you or someone you know that is receiving or has received proton therapy needs help, please let
us know asap at [email protected]
Finally, we need you help now more than ever! IF AND ONLY IF you are on solid footing financially, we ask that you make an online
donation here: www.protonpalsfoundation.org/donate
If you have questions about our work or need financial assistance, please call Les Fout at 405.492.7707 or 865.742.1081 or email him at [email protected]
Again, you, your family, and friends are in our thoughts during this difficult time. We will all get though this together!
Proton Pals Foundation Board and Staff
CALL ALL COIN HOLDERS
Each person we have the privilege of treating is more than a patient, they’re family. Our challenge coins are a symbol of the bond we share.
We would love to hear an update on how you’re doing since graduating from OPC!
Grab your coin, snap a photo, and post them to our Facebook page along with the year you graduated and a quick update about your life. You just might be featured in the next edition
of our Newsletter!
WHO WE ARE
A LEGACY OF LEADERSHIP
Oklahoma Proton Center is one of only 32 proton centers in the country and one of only 5 in the Southwest. It opened as the 6th proton center in the country in 2009 and has been a leader in the field for over a decade. Over 3,000 patients have traveled from around the world, including 38 different states, to Oklahoma City for the state-of-the-art treatment at the center. The 60,000 square foot facility is at the corner of MacArthur and Memorial adjacent to the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute.