Precision Insider: Volume 7

“This facility will incorporate the latest technology and techniques along with a compassionate care model to provide the best possible care for women, and men, in the screening and diagnosis of breast cancer. ”

-David Raubach, Chief Development Officer

In 2013, Sarah Darby, Ph.D., accompanied by a group of statisticians and physicians published a ground- breaking paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. These researchers followed a group of over two thousand women for multiple decades following radiation treatment for breast cancer. The purpose was to identify and quantify the risk of major heart complications resulting from radiation dose during treatment.

The results shocked the medical community. Not only were there more major heart complications, such as heart attacks and coronary artery disease, than anticipated, but the complications also started sooner after treatment than expected, and resulted from even lower doses of radiation than previously thought. The researchers discovered that there was almost no safe dose of radiation to the heart.

It became paramount to not only seek to reduce the radiation dose to the heart but to eliminate it altogether. Women were living longer after treatment, but the treatment itself was putting
them at great risk for serious side effects that could be fatal.

Breast cancer can be difficult to treat with radiation and especially with something as precise and complex as proton therapy. The anatomy in the region can be complicated, the area being radiated is often near the surface making a patient susceptible to severe skin irritation, and it can be difficult to consistently reproduce a patient’s positioning on the table on a day-to-day basis.

As a result, there were only a couple of proton centers in the country in the early 2010s that were focused on treating breast cancer. Oklahoma Proton Center was one of them. The team there knew, even before the Darby paper was published, that proton therapy was the best way to reduce or potentially eliminate toxic radiation doses to the heart.

Oklahoma Proton Center spent years perfecting the treatment planning and patient setup techniques needed to effectively be able to treat breast cancer patients with proton therapy. The techniques and processes developed at Oklahoma Proton Center are now in use at proton centers across the country.

Fast forward to today and the team at Oklahoma Proton Center is continuing its legacy as a pioneer in the field of breast cancer care. Allied Health Management, the managers of Oklahoma Proton Center, in conjunction with a group of surgeons, radiologists, primary care physicians, and OB/GYNs has broken ground on the Premier Breast Health Institute, a state-of-the-art breast cancer screening and diagnostics facility in south Oklahoma City.

This facility will incorporate the latest technology and techniques along with a compassionate care model to provide the best possible care for women, and men, in the screening and diagnosis of breast cancer. The facility will feature a 3D Mammogram with Contrast Enhancement, the first of its kind in the state along with digital ultrasound and breast MRI. The center will also staff a licensed genetic counselor on site and run a state-of-the-art high-
risk screening program overseen by Dr. Alan Hollingsworth, one of the leaders in breast cancer genetics and research.

The facility broke ground in May of 2022 and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2023. Proton Therapy will continue to become the standard of care for many women diagnosed with breast cancer and we at Oklahoma Proton Center are excited to continue push the field of breast cancer care forward with our partnership with the Premier Breast Health Institute of Oklahoma.


The Oklahoma Proton Center celebrated the graduation of its 4,000th patient. Mr. Eric Green was a 59-year-old prostate cancer patient who chose the Oklahoma Proton Center for treatment after considering several different options.

Mr. Green said he chose Oklahoma Proton Center because the potential for reduced side effects with proton therapy was important to him and because of the facility’s experience treating thousands of patients

Oklahoma Proton Center is one of a few proton centers in the country to reach the 4,000 patient milestone. The facility opened in 2009 as the 6th proton center in the country and remains one of just 5 centers in the southwest.

David Raubach, Chief Development Officer at the Center, acknowledged the significance of the milestone:

“The team at Oklahoma Proton Center is one of the most experienced in the country. The facility has been a pioneer in proton therapy for a decade and continues to lead the way in treating new disease sites and developing advanced treatment protocols. We are excited for where the future leads.”

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Eric Green

Fighting for the Best

Eric Green has a quiet, confident disposition. He is the kind of person you immediately feel drawn to when you meet him. Sharing stories of his upbringing in Baltimore, Maryland and advising on all the places to check out when visiting the area, Eric instantly puts you at ease. With three grown children out of the house, he lives a quiet life with his loving wife Jackey. But his quiet life was disrupted recently with three words: “You Have Cancer.”

Eric always maintained an active lifestyle. This started during a 20 year military career building “highways in the sky” for the United States Air Force. It continued into retirement with nearly daily golf or bowling outings. The wear and tear on his body eventually caught up to Eric and he was forced to have a double knee replacement surgery.

While undergoing routine tests before his surgery, Eric’s physician noticed his PSA level was gradually trending upwards. His previous PSA from the year before was slightly elevated as well. While he had prepared for knee surgery, he was not prepared to hear he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Eric’s response to his cancer diagnosis was much like his response to learning he needed double knee replacement surgery. He dove headfirst into researching treatment options and wanted to find the best solution for his active lifestyle. After ruling out surgery, Eric had to decide between traditional radiation and proton therapy.

Protons have a unique capability of being able to stop inside the cancerous tumor, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs. In turn, this can help lessen the side effects experienced. Less side effects meant returning to normal daily activities for Eric. The decision was made. Eric would begin his prostate cancer treatment at Oklahoma Proton Center.

Although all men are at risk for prostate cancer, Black men are at higher risk. They are about twice as likely to get and die from prostate cancer as white men. While not definitively known, genetics, low enrollment in clinical trials, and disparities in health care may all contribute to the higher numbers of Black men being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, Black men should start screening for prostate cancer at the age of 50, but a family history of prostate cancer could necessitate starting screening as early as 40. Eric had no family history of prostate cancer and maintained a healthy lifestyle, but was diagnosed at the age of 59 nonetheless.

Eric began his 40 proton therapy treatments in February 2022. While he was expecting to experience at least a few side effects, he said he generally felt well during treatment and was surprised by how seamless the process was.

Eric was the 4000th patient to be treated at Oklahoma Proton Center. The significance of being the 4000th patient was not lost on him. He knew this was a big milestone for the Center but wanted to stress that during his time here, he never felt like just a number. He was treated as a person. He was greeted daily when he
showed up for treatment by smiling faces who called him by name. His questions were always answered. His care team took the time to visit with him and make sure he was well looked after.

While all of these things may seem like small gestures, they made a great impact and reassured Eric that he had made the right decision going to Oklahoma Proton Center.


Concierge, Oklahoma Proton Center

“I have a passion for helping people and was drawn to this position at the Oklahoma Proton Center after watching my stepdad go through treatments for lymphoma.

If you’ve been to the Center recently, you’re no stranger to Elizabeth Harvey’s smiling face. As one of OPC’s newest team members, Liz joined us in May of 2022. With a natural ability to instantly make others feel cared for and at ease, she has
been an incredible addition to our patient services department.

Elizabeth was born in Little Rock, Arkansas but moved to Northern Virginia when she was 13. She earned her B.A. in Communications from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

In 2007 Elizabeth made the move to Oklahoma where she took time to stay home and raise her children. Her son Mitchell who is 18 just graduated from high school and her daughter Molly is 13. Elizabeth recently got engaged in February and is currently very busy combining households and getting ready to sell a house.

When not working Liz enjoys spending time with her kids (as much as they allow being teenagers!), going to watch live music, going to the lake, spending time in her flowerbed, and reading.”

“I have a passion for helping people and was drawn to this position at the Oklahoma Proton Center after watching my stepdad go through treatments for Lymphoma. I know his treatment team treated him kindly and it really meant a lot to my parents as they went through that journey.

I feed off the energy from others and I absolutely love being able to comfort others and celebrate with patients as they finish treatment and ring the bell. I get goosebumps every time!

I truly love working here and find it the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I have never met such kind people as those who work here and I truly look forward to interacting with everyone here and with the patients each day. It feels like an extended family!”

We are thrilled to have Liz on staff at Oklahoma Proton Center and know she will be an incredible asset to the team. Welcome, Elizabeth!



If you are 6 months out of treatment or a 5 or 10-year survivor, please keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation to the following events.

5 & 10 Year Survivor Night/OKC Dodgers Baseball Game: August 12th
1 Year Graduation Reception: August 18th


Proton Pals Foundation helps put on several events throughout the year. While many of these events are celebrations or graduations for cancer patients, many events are fundraising opportunities to raise money to help underwrite our programs and services.

We need individuals, businesses, civic groups, churches, and foundations to join us in fighting cancer while supporting survivors.

Please contact us at [email protected] to schedule a time to meet to discuss how we can work together to serve cancer patients and their families.


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.

“When someone has cancer, the whole family & everyone who loves them does.”

Nearly two million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States this year. Each one of these individuals is a daughter or a son, a father or a mother, a sister or a brother, a grandfather or a grandmother, a friend.

The diagnosis is shocking. It is scary. There is so much unknown. The journey could be long. It could be arduous. It will be physically and emotionally taxing. And all of this can impact not just the patient, but also their caregivers and support circle.

One study found that the distress experienced by spouses prior to and after surgery for cancer was comparable to that of the patients going through the surgery. In fact, prior to the patient’s discharge, the distress experienced by the spouse was actually higher than that of the patient.1

Other studies have shown that caregivers of chronically ill patients have an increased risk of illness2 and increased risk of negative psychiatric symptoms3.

The symptoms and impact of caregiving can manifest through a disrupted schedule, financial problems, lack of family and social support, loss of physical strength, and a drop in self-esteem among other areas.

Despite all these risks, partners are often less likely than clinical or informal caregivers to receive mental and social support and certainly less likely than the patients themselves.

For all these reasons, it is important for caregivers to be cognizant of their mental and physical state as their mood and outlook can actually impact the outcome for the patient.

At Oklahoma Proton Center we proactively work with spouses and other caregivers such as parents or children to help provide them with the support and resources they need. This support comes in multiple areas:

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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


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.

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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.

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