Writing a “Year in Review” blog feels a little different in 2020. We typically think back fondly on the year that was; remembering the moments that made it so great. For most of us though, “great” might not be the first word that comes to mind when we think of 2020.
A global pandemic gripped the world and brought with it fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and unfortunately, tragedy. While we can’t ignore the reality of 2020, we can still choose to look beyond the surface of it. We can choose to find the positive, the admirable, and the inspirational.
Here are some of the highlights from 2020 at Provision CARES Proton Therapy. As you close out this tumultuous year, perhaps a reminder of the good that still came out of it will help lead you into 2021 with a sense of hope and optimism.
PROTON THERAPY BENEFITS CONFIRMED
In the proton therapy world, 2020 kicked off with some exciting news. A large study published by radiation oncologists from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania confirmed the benefits of protons over traditional x-ray radiation. Researchers looked at outcomes of more than 1,500 patients and found that proton therapy had similar cure rates to traditional radiation, but significantly reduced the risk of side effects.
Later in the year, research out of Stanford University revealed that proton therapy significantly lowers a patient’s risk of developing a second cancer later in life.1 The study included more than 450,000 patients with a variety of cancers, including prostate, breast, lung, and head & neck. Researchers found that patients who were treated with x-ray therapy developed more than three times as many new cancers as those treated with proton therapy.
Then, just in time for Lung Cancer Awareness Month, researchers at Penn Medicine presented the findings of a study that suggests proton therapy for lung cancer can reduce the risk of certain heart diseases. Most notably, only 1.1 percent of patients treated with proton therapy experienced a mini-stroke, compared to 8.2 percent of those treated with traditional radiation.
MILESTONES AT PROVISION CARES PROTON THERAPY
Our Year in Review 2020 wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some great accomplishments from both proton therapy centers.
In January, our Knoxville center achieved two major milestones just days apart. First, Provision Knoxville’s 3000th graduate rang the victory bell. A few days later, employees, patients, and ambassadors gathered together to celebrate six years of treating cancer patients with proton therapy in Knoxville.
Then in August, our Nashville center also reached a big milestone, as the 500th graduate rang the bell. By that time, our patient graduations were looking a little different thanks to COVID, but the spirit of celebration remained the same!
We also saw an unprecedented milestone occur in 2020, as Dr. James Gray, Medical Director and Radiation Oncologist at our Nashville center, shared publicly that he chose Provision CARES Proton Therapy to treat his own prostate cancer. In doing so, he became the first Provision physician to become a Provision patient.
CULTURE OF CARE EVIDENT IN 2020
In a year like no other, Provision’s Culture of Care took center stage. When the COVID pandemic began in March, our leadership team immediately implemented new safety measures and cleanliness procedures. We also adapted our clinical process to make telehealth consultations available for prospective patients.
Providing an unrivaled patient experience has always been Provision’s top priority, and each and every change we made in response to the pandemic helped serve that goal.
We were extremely excited to see our Culture of CARE earn national recognition in September. Press Ganey, a healthcare industry leader in measuring and improving the delivery of care, named Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville a 2020 “Guardian of Excellence Award” winner for exceptional Patient Experience in Outpatient Oncology.
“Receiving this award requires a dedicated and collaborative effort on behalf of the entire Care Team,” said Elizabeth Vanzo, Director of Patient Experience for Provision. “It all begins with our Culture of Care.”
STORIES OF HOPE AND GRATITUDE LIFT SPIRITS
Throughout the year, we witnessed moments of hope and gratitude that allowed us to see the good in our world. These moments helped many of us here at Provision keep our spirits up, so we could continue to serve our patients with care and enthusiasm.
Early in March, just before the pandemic began, some of our employees from Provision Nashville visited the Hope Lodge. This is an invaluable service provided by the American Cancer Society and we were honored to serve dinner to the cancer patients staying there.
As the pandemic lingered on into April, an unexpected visitor showed up outside our Nashville center – affectionately dubbed “The Rock Fairy” by our staff members. These small messages of thanks and encouragement meant so much to the entire Provision team.
A similar show of gratitude, albeit slightly grander in scale, came in the form of a Blue Angels flyover in May. It was an incredible sight to behold as the Navy pilots flew right over Provision Nashville for #OperationAmericaStrong, a collective salute to recognize healthcare workers, first responders, and all essential workers.
YEAR IN REVIEW 2020 SPOTLIGHT SHINES ON PROTON THERAPY
Whether it was here at home or across the country, proton therapy received a lot of recognition worthy of our Year in Review 2020. In February, Congressman Tim Burchett (TN 2nd District) visited Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville for a tour of our facility. It was a great opportunity for our nation’s leaders to learn more about treating cancer with protons, as well as see the positive impact Provision has on our communities.
At the same time, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the Proton Therapy Institute at Hampton University. Mr. Pence was certainly impressed with what he saw and had some very complimentary things to say about proton therapy technology.
Later in the year, the national spotlight shined on proton therapy once again when NFL head coach Ron Rivera announced he had been diagnosed with squamous cell cancer. His treatment plan included chemotherapy and proton therapy. Amazingly, Rivera continued to coach throughout his treatment – a tribute to both the doctors and healthcare workers treating him and the advanced technology of proton therapy.
As part of the Provision CARES Cancer Network, Provision CARES Proton Therapy has locations in Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn. If you or someone you know has cancer, we encourage you to call 1-833-6-PROTON. One of our Cancer Care Experts can speak to you about your specific diagnosis and help determine if proton therapy is right for you.
1. Xiang M, Chang DT, Pollom EL. Second cancer risk after primary cancer treatment with three-dimensional conformal, intensity-modulated, or proton beam radiation therapy. Cancer. 2020;0:1-9.