“My family and I are continually grateful to tell this story and keep sharing it in the hope that others will be aware that this life-changing treatment option is right here in the great state of Oklahoma.”
-Jim Olson: Prostate Cancer Survivor
As graduate number fourteen, I have been connected to the Proton Center since it opened in 2009. Since completing treatment for prostate cancer that November, I’ve continued to be a part of the Center’s activities and have often met with recently diagnosed patients interested in visiting with survivors. Over the past decade, I’ve watched the Center undergo many changes, but one thing has remained the same. The relentless drive to provide an overall outstanding experience for every patient and family member that walks through the door.
Recently the Center has gone through a new kind of change, one that will generate more strength and flexibility and allow for more excellent service to both patients and the community.
The idea of transforming the way the Center conducts business began well over a year ago. The idea, however, came easier than the actual process. After months of hard work and determination from the leadership of Oklahoma Proton Center, we are proud to announce that Oklahoma Proton Center is now operating as a not-for-profit organization.
A not-for-profit organization is an institution that conducts its events to assist other individuals, groups, or causes rather than gaining profits for themselves. I was honored to be involved in this change by accepting the role of Chairperson of the Board for Oklahoma Proton Foundation. We have outstanding talent on the Oklahoma Proton Foundation Board and plan for the expansion of additional members in the months ahead.
We are fortunate to have incredible leadership in Tomorrow Welch, Christopher Brown, and David Raubach. They, myself, and many others worked tirelessly to achieve the goal of transitioning Oklahoma Proton Center to a not-for-profit organization to better serve those in need. We are overwhelmingly grateful to the outstanding staff at OPC for their continuous dedication to our patients and how they’ve embraced this vision to excel forward.
We look forward to this new chapter in the Center’s history and are proud to be involved in such impactful work. The future is bright as we continue our mission of building a legacy of survivors.
HIM OLSON: A DESIRE TO FIND A BETTER WAY
My name is Jim Olson, and I was treated for prostate cancer with proton therapy in 2019.
After learning about my prostate cancer diagnosis, I had some decisions to make. My younger brother, deceased for 20 years, had significantly reduced quality of life due to radiation treatment in the sites surrounding the cancer target. Seeing those deep ulcers that wouldn’t heal, the resulting colostomy bag, loss of mobility, and the impact it had on his young family created a desire in me to find a better way.
Years before the Oklahoma Proton Center was operating, an older and wiser friend flew from Oklahoma to San Diego, California, to receive proton therapy. This friend was treated with proton therapy for prostate cancer, and the treatment was a success even though the cost for treatment was significant. After finishing his treatments, my friend is still living and doing well in Oklahoma City today. Interestingly, the urologist who identified potential cancer strongly recommended traditional radiation but did not resist when we decided to use Oklahoma Proton Center. I knew proton therapy would directly target my cancer, and my quality of life through the treatment process and years following would be less impacted. My wife and I found out our insurance would likely cover the treatment through phone research. The result was that the costs were completely covered.
The preliminary tour through Oklahoma Proton Center solidified that I had made the right decision. My wife and I learned the inspirational story of how Oklahoma City became the sixth proton therapy treatment site in the nation. The Oklahoma staff has trained many of the other 36 sites and made us realize the best talent was 15 minutes from our front door in NW Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma Proton Center had an incredible customer service approach and treated us like family. Our research showed that much of the “Cancer Fight” is mental and is improved with positivity, joy, and keeping the immune system in top fighting condition. Thus, when we toured and learned of the tremendous team and colleague support from Oklahoma Proton Center, we knew this was the best approach for us. Attending the weekly luncheons, learning of the relationship with the local hotels, the restaurant meetups, and seeing the victory ceremonies and coins confirmed that this was not for marketing; this was for the wellbeing and health of the patients being treated because the staff truly cared.
During the treatment, I faithfully went to treatment at 8:15 each day and then went on to work—no loss of energy or ability to carry on as usual. Following the conclusion of treatment, life has continued much as before; however, my family and I have been more aware, more grateful, and mindful of how precious life is. My follow-up PSA checks and appropriate medication have consistently improved numbers, further confirming that I made the right decision.
I consider the staff at Oklahoma Proton Center my friends. I’ll often stop by to greet them, get a bottle of water, and chat. I was also able to arrange, set up, and lead a tour of VillagesOKC friends through the center. VillagesOKC is about informing, educating, and empowering mature adults – 50+. We work to have a “neighborhood” where the individual is encouraged to make the best and wise decisions for himself after collecting information from trusted friends (virtual neighbors) and trusted businesses. Being an advocate for your own health is something VillagesOKC really strives to achieve.
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.
My family and I are continually grateful to tell this story and keep sharing it in the hope that others will be aware that this life changing treatment option is right here in the great state of Oklahoma.
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: INTAKE TEAM EXPANSION
“I feel grateful and blessed to serve others ”
As OPC’s newest member of the Intake Team, Michelle Red spends her days navigating new patients through the process of gaining access to proton therapy. A role she now considers her calling.
Most of Michelle’s career has been spent in the corporate world. She spent several years at JP Morgan in the mutual fund’s department and working on the trading floor. After moving to Oklahoma in 2005, Michelle found opportunities in insurance and the oil and gas industries. However, a decade into her life here in Oklahoma, her priorities shifted drastically after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Michelle became involved with Project31, where she met OPC Patient Services Manager Vickie Weigel. After meeting Vickie, Michelle’s desire to work in the corporate world quickly became a desire to work with cancer patients. Vickie connected Michelle with the Center for an open spot on the team. Michelle applied but wasn’t hired due to a lack of experience in healthcare. That didn’t stop her! Determined to make her new dream a reality, she took a local entry-level medical position to gain the expertise needed. As fate would have it, an intake coordinator position became available again. Six years cancer-free and fulfilling her dream to work with cancer patients, Michelle is the perfect fit for the team!
When asked what she enjoys most about her role at OPC, Michelle says it’s the ability to be there for someone who needs it. As a survivor, Michelle can easily recall the emotions that arise after a diagnosis.
She understands firsthand; sometimes, the best thing she can do is just listen to their stories. Helping others feel seen and heard during such a vulnerable season is something she feels grateful and blessed to be able to do.
When Michelle isn’t working with patients, she enjoys crafting. She loves to paint, a passion she discovered through her breast cancer recovery. She’s done several craft shows and has items for sale in Medicine Park’s Aquarium gift shop. She has been married to her “amazing, WONDERFUL” husband for seven years. She is currently planning a trip to Maine to visit her son and celebrate his 21st birthday. A clear indicator that she is most definitely the cool mom! Michelle was raised in Columbus, Ohio, with seven brothers and one sister. Her father’s family is from Budapest, Hungary, a destination she knows she will visit in the future!
LATEST UPDATES FROM PPF
Drive Out Cancer Golf Tournament Golf Tournament June 4, 2021 8AM-6PM – Rose Creek
Always Positive Charity Auction & Dinner September 24, 2021 6PM-9PM – Skirvin Hilton
DRIVE OUT CANCER GOLF TOURNAMENT
Join us on Friday, June 4th to DRIVE OUT CANCER to raise awareness and resources for Proton Pals Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to patient access to proton therapy, along with the financial support families need during treatment!
Each player will receive a generous goody bag, complimentary range balls, meals, drinks, and snacks while enjoying a wonderful golf course! We can’t wait to see you there! To learn more or register, visit www.protonpalsfoundation.org or contact Jeff Murray at [email protected]
THINK LIKE A PROTON AND STAY POSITIVE
Mark your calendars, and join more than 250 community leaders, philanthropists, cancer patients, and survivors to raise awareness and resources for Proton Pals Foundation. Proton Pals is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) public charity with the mission to create and develop positive relationships that make a difference in the lives of proton therapy patients. The evening will consist of a silent auction, reception, and the opportunity to listen to an excellent guest speaker! A wonderful dinner will follow, in addition to a few stories about the families that Proton pals have been able to serve! If you would like to learn more about Proton Pals and see how you might help out as a volunteer, donor, or you may have connections of an individual, business, or foundation that could support their work, please contact Jeff Murray today!
VILLAGES OKC: LEARN, PLAN & SERVE WITH SPIRIT AND DIGNITY
WHAT IS VILLAGES OKC?
Villages are nonprofit, grassroots membership organizations that redefine aging by being a key resource to community members wishing to age in place. Villages are a social support network for their members that provide necessary services (such as transportation, technology assistance, running errands to the pharmacy and grocery store), community engagement activities, and other important resources crucial to aging interdependently. We are virtual neighbors enabling mature adults to come together to learn, plan and serve with spirit and dignity.”
While we may not live next door to one another, ours is a neighborhood that connects the good people of Greater Oklahoma City and trusted businesses to help each other with whatever we can, whenever we can. VillagesOKC offers friendships to fill the gaps where family, church, and existing friends leave off. Although we are modeled after the other 300+ “villages” across the nation, ours is a member-driven organization designed to meet members’ needs across the great- er metro – from Guthrie to Norman and Choctaw to El Reno.
Our featured planning opportunity is the exclusive Gathering Information For Transitions (GIFT) sessions. These are 90-minute, small group sessions held once a week over four weeks via Zoom or in-person at different locations around the Oklahoma City metro.
SERVICES VILLAGES OKC PROVIDES
Anyone 50+ is welcome to apply for membership to join the Village! Members pay a single annual fee to access services, resources, and social opportunities. Members request services by phone, email, or on the website, and a volunteer will respond.
Volunteers are matched with members based on skills and availability.
Social programs and other activities are announced to members by email and on the website,
Villages embrace bringing services to people rather than moving people to services. The first Village began more than a decade ago when a few aging friends and neighbors joined forces to create a way for them to “age at home” and remain independent as long as possible.
To learn more about VillagesOKC: Call or text: 405.990.6637 or Email: [email protected]
More than 1.8 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Unfortunately, only 1% will be treated with proton therapy for their fight. The underutilization of Proton Therapy is due to a lack of awareness for this powerful treatment of cancer.
Sponsored by Proton Centers throughout the United States, Proton Fight Club is a national awareness campaign for proton therapy; join patients and frontline fighters in their quest to fight cancer head-on with the most advanced radiation treatment in the world.
WHY WE SHARE
Sharing your cancer experience enables you to look at your circumstance in a new light. It allows you to become an observer rather than a victim, to use the challenge as a source of strength, and to inspire hope for future survivors. Read some courageous stories from our inspiring survivors by clicking below.
If you’d like to share your story, please reach out to Heather Jacobson at [email protected] and she will be in touch
will additional details.
Want to share but don’t feel like much of an author? No problem!
We will provide the tools, resources, and support you need to document your experience. Whether you want to share publicly or simply keep for personal reflection, we are here to help.