“Be your own best advocate. When treatments are recommended, do your own research and be confident in the decisions you make. For me, that meant choosing proton therapy”.
-Madelynne Knight: Lymphoma Survivor
It’s no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact in many areas. Unfortunately, one area where we have seen disruption is cancer screening. The cancer mortality rate decreased by 27% from 1991 to 2016. One major reason for this was advancements in screening capabilities and the adoption of consistent screening protocols. When cancer is discovered early, we can often treat it more effectively.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a significant drop in cancer screening rates. Some providers have reported as much as a 90% drop in screening appointments for things like mammograms, PSA checks, and colonoscopies. We are now expecting to see a temporary rise in cancer mortality rate as some cancers, that would have been caught in earlier stages, will now be caught after they have become more aggressive or spread.
We strongly encourage those at higher risk, either because of age, lifestyle, or genetics to maintain their physician recommended screening schedule. We understand that this can be difficult right now, and those at higher risk of cancer can also be at higher risk of a more serious reaction to a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Oklahoma Proton Center has begun offering some cancer screening services and we are in the process of expanding our capabilities. Currently we offer physician recommended, state-of-the-art lung screening for patients at high risk of lung cancer. For other screening options, we partner with physician offices who have done an excellent job protecting patients from risk of exposure to COVID-19 while offering high quality and patient friendly screening procedures.
If you have questions about where, when, or how to schedule screening appointments, please reach out to us at Oklahoma Proton Center. We want to be a resource for you.
SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS:
MY JOURNEY TO A CANCER DIAGNOSIS
About two and half years ago, when I was 19 years old, I no longer felt like myself. I was exhausted all the time. I couldn’t hike with my friends without feeling weak. I couldn’t sit through a movie without falling asleep, and I seemed to constantly be getting sick.
Just one year into adult life and I felt the full force of what adults seem to constantly complain about! While I wasn’t expecting to lose the energy of my youth in the span of a year, I tried to put my symptoms aside and power through life. That’s what adults do, right?
However, when the exhaustion was then accompanied by uncontrollable itching, I started second guessing my self- diagnosis of “adulthood”. I had an annual check-up already scheduled and assumed I’d find some answers then. I was right! My ANA test came back positive and I was referred to a Rheumatologist. I had been getting though regardless, so when I was told it would be 10 months before I could be seen, I thought, nothing could get worse…right?
Six months after my blood test, and still a few months away from being able to visit a Rheumatologist, I became very sick during a family vacation. Every day I was running a high fever, I had severe neck pain, and I didn’t have the energy to stay in the sun and enjoy the beach like everyone else. I was living on ibuprofen and naps. It wasn’t until I started having severe periodic chest pain that Im started to panic.
My mom and I immediately went to the urgent care clinic for answers. I was exhausted, dehydrated, and in terrible pain, yet all of the tests they ran came back negative. I scheduled an appointment with my primary care doctor in hopes that any of this would make sense to someone.
As I explained my symptoms, she arranged for me to see a different Rheumatologist that very day. (Mom and I cried; we were finally getting somewhere.) After a series of tests and visits I was diagnosed with Lupus.
After further tests and more visits, I was eventually diagnosed with Rhupus, which is Lupus with overlapping features and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, it seemed I had the answer – Autoimmune disease was to blame for the disappearance of the health I’d known my entire life! I just needed to take the prescriptions the doctor gave me and I could get back to living.
Unfortunately, my battle for answers was far from over.
My inflammation levels continued to climb higher despite various drug regimens. In January of 2019, a year and half after the medical saga had started, I was prescribed Humira and finally started to feel better. Over the next few months things seemed to improve. Having missed out on my last family vacation, I was ecstatic for Spring Break. However, when it arrived, I felt another “flare up” coming on. I had the most excruciating chest pain that I had ever felt and the side of my neck felt tender and swollen. Steroids were my saving grace this time. I began accepting this cycle as my new normal. Life was a series of flare-ups, new meds, moderate relief. Over and over the cycle continued…..
TO READ THE REST OF MADDI’S INCREDIBLE
JOURNEY TO A DIAGNOSIS VISIT:
“…I love to encourage others, especially in seemingly harder seasons of life.”
If you’ve been to the Center recently, you’re no stranger to Tessa Linn’s smiling face. As one of OPC’s newest team members, Tessa joined us in October of 2019. With a natural ability to make others feel welcome and at ease, she has been the perfect addition to our patient services department.
Tessa earned her degree in Practical Theology from Christ for the Nations Bible Institute in Dallas, TX. She is also a Certified
Peer Support Specialist with Oklahoma
Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. As a former dispatcher for the Dallas Police Department and Associate Children’s Pastor, Tessa has been drawn to opportunities that allow her to serve others throughout her career.
In 2012 Tessa’s two greatest passions, her family and her desire to serve, came together as her next great opportunity. After returning to Oklahoma she began caring for her young nephews. She then experienced what she describes as the greatest joy of her life, caring for her new granddaughter from birth until she began preschool. “After caring for all the little ones in my family I began to search out a position where I could continue to help others and work in a positive environment.”
When asked what she likes most about her work at OPC, Tessa exclaims, “I love the environment! Patients and co-workers are both inspirational and kind to one another. I love to encourage others, especially in seemingly harder seasons of life!”
Tessa married her high school sweetheart 36 years ago and doesn’t hesitate to add that he is still the love of her life. They have 4 children and 4 grandchildren. Split between Texas and Oklahoma; 3 of their children and 2 of their grandchildren reside in Edmond, OK, while their oldest son and daughter-in- law reside in Ovilla, TX, with their 8-year-old granddaughter and 4-year-old grandson.
When Tessa is away from the Center, she loves spending time with her family and friends, being outside in nature, and visiting historical sites especially pertaining to the WW2 era. She also hopes to someday visit Israel.
PROTON PALS HELP PATIENTS THROUGH PANDEMIC
“John” was just 15 years old when he received his cancer diagnosis. He wanted to maintain his normal life and see his friends which meant his Mom had to drive him more than 2 hours every day for his proton therapy treatment. Proton Pals Foundation was honored to provide “John” and his family with a gas card so he could sleep in his own bed every night!
“Jane” is a single parent who often struggled to make ends meet before she was diagnosed with cancer. She expressed her concerns to the team at the Oklahoma Proton Center who told her about Proton Pals. “Jane” applied for a grant and soon learned Proton Pals would be awarding her a grant to help pay some of her medical expenses so she could receive proton therapy.
Basically, Proton Pals wants to make sure current and future patients have access to proton therapy, support while they’re in treatment, and provide survivorship programs to former patients. In addition to the many “Johns” and “Janes”, there are lots of people who have needed Proton Pals to underwrite hotel rooms. To continue to do that, Proton Pals needs help.
Proton Pals will host a golf tournament on Friday, September 11th at Rose Creek Golf Course not far from the proton center. It is $175 per player or $700 a team. Sponsorships are also available and begin at $250. There is a need for players, sponsors, and volunteers for both morning and afternoon rounds.
The Proton Pals Dinner and Auction will be held on Friday, November 6 at the Skirvin Hilton in downtown Oklahoma City. Tickets are $100 each. Table sponsorships begin at $1,250. Barry Switzer & others will speak at the event.
To learn more about these events, please go to:
There are dozens of other stories like “John” and “Jane” because of Proton Pals Foundation. As a startup 501(c)(3) public charity, Proton Pals doesn’t have reserves in the bank that they can rely on to help current or future patients. They are trying to connect with people who might be interested in learning more about their work.
If you would like to learn more about Proton Pals and learn how you might be able to help as a volunteer, donor, or through personal connections with an individual, business or foundation that could possibly support their work, please contact:
(405) 492-7707 Office
(865) 742-1081 Mobile
“Together, we will get through this pandemic and continue to help cancer patients!”
-Les Fout, Executive Director,
Proton Pals Foundation
CALLING ALL COIN HOLDERS!
WE WANT TO STAY CONNECTED
Send in your photos and give us an update on your life. You may just spot yourself in the next edition of our newsletter!
WHO WE ARE
A LEGACY OF LEADERSHIP
Oklahoma Proton Center is one of only 33 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 3,200 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.