When Jacques S. was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in 2014, he knew what he wanted, and he didn’t mind waiting for it. “I’m not a surgery type of person,” said Jacques, who lives in Franklin, Tennessee, a town just outside of Nashville. His brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 56 and had undergone a prostatectomy.
“He had surgery. I remember the pain he went through. He’s still suffering the effects at 64,” said Jacques.
Then Jacques met someone who had received proton therapy at the first treatment center in the U.S., located in Loma Linda, California, and began looking into that as an option. At his doctor’s office, the nurse practitioner offered a range of treatment alternatives, but proton therapy wasn’t on the list. His doctor mentioned it dismissively because, at the time, there was no proton therapy treatment center in Middle Tennessee. (Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville opened in October 2018, expanding proton therapy access to much of the southeast region.)
Nevertheless, Jacques did his own research and found Provision CARES Proton Therapy. He traveled to Knoxville to meet with one of Provision’s board-certified radiation oncologists and instantly made his decision.
“After the consult, I said, ‘I know what it’s going to be,’” he remembers.
However, his insurance company disagreed and denied him coverage for proton therapy. Jacques was 64, so he decided to wait for Medicare, taking hormone therapy in hopes of keeping the cancer at bay until then. Fortunately, his plan worked out. His PSA level went down, and he was able to wait until insurance kicked in and then begin treatment in Knoxville.
Even before his treatment, though, he was spreading the good word about proton therapy. Jacques says sharing his story resulted in two patients coming to Provision for cancer treatment on his recommendation, while another sought proton therapy treatment at a different center. When he finally was able to do the treatment himself, it lived up to all of his expectations.
He traveled alone from his home in Franklin each week for treatment. But at Provision, he said, as he gestured towards the lobby, “You’re not going to sit here by yourself.”
He says both fellow patients and the Provision CARES team have been so hospitable, which helped make the long stretches away from home a little easier.
“I am just amazed at the bedside manners,” Jacques said. “It’s from the minute I walk in, to the minute I walk out.”
His friends at home were there with him in spirit during treatment, too. They sent a Teddy bear, dubbed “Illie Willie,” along to keep him company. For each treatment, Jacques hung onto Illie instead of the rubber ring patients typically clutch while the protons do their work. During the day, he even hung out with another bear brought in for him by a Provision hospitality coordinator.
“There has been nothing but positive things coming here,” he said.