“The statistics blew me away; it was obviously a much safe option. The side effects are minimal, so I could continue recovering from chemotherapy while still receiving daily treatment. To me, it was my only option.”
-Crystal Cope: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer Survivor
Up to 10% of cancers are hereditary. The good news is that with modern testing, we can often detect gene mutations that increase an individual’s risk for cancer. Those at increased risk can alter screening regimens to ensure that if cancer occurs, it is detected as soon as possible. This might mean, for example, starting colonoscopies at a younger age or getting breast screenings twice a year instead of once.
At Oklahoma Proton Center, we believe it is important to partner with our patients and the community to provide the best resources not just for treatment but also for screening and detection. For this reason, we are excited to be opening a state-of-the-art cancer genetic testing program.
This program will be run by Oklahoma Proton Center under the guidance of Dr. Alan Hollingsworth, one of the pioneers of cancer genetic testing. As a surgical oncologist, Dr. Hollingsworth was the first physician in Oklahoma to regularly order genetic screening for his patients, starting in the 1990s. His groundbreaking research helped pave the way for innovations that allow us to test 36 genes for mutations tied to cancer risk.
The screen itself is a simple blood draw. The sample will be sent off to a lab, and the results will be back in 2-3 weeks. A clinical provider from Oklahoma Proton Center will then follow up and discuss the results with the individual being tested.
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you should consider contacting Oklahoma Proton Center to schedule a time for a genetic screen:
- Has a family member been diagnosed with cancer under the age of 50?
- Has a family member been diagnosed with a rare cancer?
- Has a family member been diagnosed with more than one cancer?
- Have 3 or more people on the same side of your family been diagnosed with cancer?
- Has anyone in your family been found to have a cancer gene mutation?
We look forward to partnering with doctors and patients in the community on this very important program. Please give us a call if you have questions or would like more information.
CRYSTAL COPE: TRUSTING YOUR INSTICTS
My name is Crystal Cope, I am 34 years old, and I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in August 2020.
I never thought something as minor and silly as itchy skin could be a symptom of cancer. That was the only symptom I had for a year. It was persistent itchy skin that doctors couldn’t find the source of. They prescribed allergy testing, food elimination diets, blood testing for specific disorders, and not to mention the dozens of bottles, tubes, and tubs of various ointments, creams, and lotions that never helped. It was mind-boggling. Still, cancer never crossed my mind.
Then, one day I noticed a lump on my neck and made another doctor’s appointment. That lump finally gave me the answer I’d been desperately seeking for my itchy skin, but now, I just wanted to unhear it and go back to worrying about which cream to use today. Instead, I was force-fed information about oncologist referrals and treatment plans. My Itchy skin had been a side effect of cancer all along.
My initial treatment plan didn’t include radiation- proton or traditional. I endured 5 months of chemotherapy, and then my scans came back with no evidence of cancer. I was done; I rang the bell. But then, my oncologist dropped a bomb- she highly recommended radiation to 3 areas of my body to lower the chances of cancer cells being left behind. She referred me to a radiation oncologist and set up an appointment.
I didn’t even show up to the consultation. I kept telling myself and my family, “my scans are clear; why would I put myself at high risk for secondary cancers by doing radiation”? After several calls from the concerned radiation department about my missed appointments, I finally agreed to go in for just a consultation. That’s where I met Dr. Prabhu. She was just wonderful, informative, yet comforting. I came to the appointment ready to defend my decision and expecting a debate. To my surprise, Dr. Prabhu agreed with my decision. Traditional radiation would leave me at a higher risk for lung and breast cancer. She recommended proton therapy to precisely pinpoint proton radiation only to the targeted area. The statistics blew me away; it was obviously a much safer option. The side effects are minimal, so I could continue recovering from chemotherapy while still receiving daily treatment. To me, it was my only option.
The staff at Oklahoma Proton Center treated me like family, and I was in loving, caring hands through the entire process. I completed my treatment during the COVID pandemic, so my family wasn’t allowed to accompany me. I never felt alone though, I really needed that.
By sharing my story, I hope it encourages others to listen to their bodies and trust their instincts. I have a family history of lung cancer and I’m a former smoker. Traditional radiation would have highly increased my secondary cancer risk, specifically lung cancer. Proton therapy was the much safer option. Listen to your doctors but let your instincts speak too.
Don’t be a hero. Don’t even try. Accept the help being offered and ask for help when you need it. This is important to me because I was trying to do it all. Work full time, be the best mom in the world, be a good wife, keep the house clean on top of cancer treatments and doctor’s appointments. It will only make you feel worse in more ways than one. Don’t be a hero.
Before being diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t think much about the future. I had hopes and dreams like most of us do but no real plans. I was just hoping for the best. Today, my husband and I are putting in the work and effort to make our lives great today and for tomorrow. It’s like proton therapy; I’m ensuring our happiness instead of just hoping for the best.
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: DEVIN INHOFE
Physician Relations Manager
“I love knowing that we offer the best therapy around… ”
Oklahoma Proton Center is excited to welcome Devin Inhofe to the team! As our Physician Relations Manager, Devin will be taking on
educating and marketing Oklahoma Proton Centers services to community physicians.
Devin was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma. She grew up in South Oklahoma City, graduated from Westmoore high school, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Devin met her husband, Bow, in college, and stayed close to home, remaining in South Oklahoma City.
Devin has 2 young boys, Brodie- 14 years old, and Bryce- 10 years old. Devin loves watching her boys play football, basketball, and travel baseball when she’s not busy working.
“We spend a lot of time doing sports with the boys and going to our home away from home, Lake Eufaula.”
Before joining us at the Center, Devin worked as the Director of Marketing for Community Hospital for 13 years. Oklahoma Proton Center was a wonderful opportunity for Devin to learn another side of healthcare and offer other therapy options to patients and their physicians.
When asked what she enjoys most about her new role with the Oklahoma Proton Center, Devin said,
“I love knowing that we offer the best and most state-of-the-art therapy around. I truly enjoy experiencing the staff’s dedication to the patients and their families. What we offer is making the
world and people’s lives better.”
With years of experience under her belt, Oklahoma Proton Center is excited to have Devin join us, and we look forward to all that she has to offer!
LATEST UPDATES FROM PPF
Always Positive Charity Auction & Dinner September 24, 2021 6PM-9PM – Skirvin Hilton
Featuring Guest Speaker Ashleigh Robinson MISS OKLAHOMA 2021
THINK LIKE A PROTON AND STAY POSITIVE
Join more than 250 community leaders, philanthropists, and cancer survivors to raise awareness and resources for Proton Pals Foundation, a 501(C)(3) public charity.
The evening will consist of a silent auction, reception, and opportunity to listen to guest speaker Ashleigh Robinson, Miss Oklahoma, 2021. A wonderful dinner will follow, in addition to a few stories about families Proton Pals has helped.
Individual tickets are just $100, or you or your company may sponsor a table for $1,250 (10 tickets). To learn more about the event or purchase tickets, please click HERE.
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 while assisting patients and their families with financial, psychological, and physical support that will enhance and improve their quality of life.
Proton Pals Foundation provides, at no charge, a wide range of support services for people affected by cancer and their loved ones. Programs are available to proton therapy patients with cancer and at any stage of the cancer journey.
Leading a non-profit organization has its list of challenges, but I never thought a global pandemic would be one of them. The mission of the Proton Pals Foundation will continue to be one of service and patient assistance. The Foundation was created to develop positive relationships that make a difference in the lives of proton therapy center patients while assisting them and their families with financial, psychological, and physical support that will enhance and improve their quality of life. This statement drives our Board of Directors to help create positive relationships and partnerships in the community that will help us provide financial and emotional assistance to those qualifying patients.
When the idea of creating a non-profit foundation to benefit proton therapy patients was first discussed in 2018, I was more than happy to be a part of the initial group that put the wheels in motion to help current and future patients. As a former patient at the Oklahoma Proton Center in 2010 (graduate #294), I know firsthand the intricate details associated with a cancer diagnosis. Cancer does not discriminate and has a lifelong impact on a family’s financial and emotional well-being. Some individuals diagnosed with cancer do not obtain treatment or go into debt because of the high cost of healthcare.
Proton Pals exists to make sure everyone has access to cancer treatment! The smile on patient’s faces when they are awarded a grant from Proton Pals to help them during their treatment is one of the greatest feelings in the world! The money we generate through our annual dinner and auction, as well as the Drive Out Cancer Golf Tournament, is used for treatment-related expenses to assist patients who might need financial help.
Walking into the building 10 years ago as a patient and now walking into the building to assist others has been extremely rewarding. I feel as though I have come full circle and now understand why it is so important to give back to others.
Despite the pandemic, cancer treatments have continued, and we are here to serve those patients who need our help. No one should go without groceries or go into debt because they have cancer. With your help, we will change lives. Please visit our website for more specific details on how we serve patients through one of our existing programs.
If you are a current patient hanging out in the lobby, please find me and say hello……I’d love to share a bottle of water with you as we talk about a wide variety of worldly topics. Who knows, I might even recruit you to help volunteer for one of our upcoming events, or you could be the one who generates the next great idea for a potential fundraiser.
Jeff A Murray, Executive Director
Proton Pals Foundation
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.
Want to get involved? We would love to have you join the club. Check out our Facebook group by clicking HERE
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 HJacobson@OKCProton.com 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.