Ken Rainey decided he wanted to pursue proton therapy in lieu of conventional radiation for his throat cancer for one simple reason—or rather, a set of them. He wanted to keep his teeth.
Rainey, who lives about an hour from Tupelo, Miss., was diagnosed with throat cancer after what he assumed was seasonal allergies persisted until he began spitting up blood and an ear, nose and throat specialist discovered a tumor.
As he made the rounds of specialists, Rainey was shocked to learn that he would need 12 back teeth removed—“’That radiation will go through your jawbone and kill your teeth,’” Rainey said the oral surgeon told him. The doctor also recommended inserting a feeding tube prior to treatment, as it would render him unable to eat.
“That floored me,” Rainey said.
It also drove him online, searching for treatment options that would do less collateral damage. He discovered Provision, and set up a consult—against his doctor’s advice.
“His own position was that he thought it was still too new,” Rainey said.
But after learning about proton therapy, a Provision’s pencil beam scanning in particular, he was convinced the treatment would allow him to keep his teeth, avoid a feeding tube and cure his cancer.
The VA’s Veterans Choice Program let him travel to Knoxville for the treatment, and the VA even provided funds for his stay.
Rainey completed treatment successfully, and while he experienced some temporary side effects such as sore throat and loss of taste, he kept his teeth and the ability to swallow throughout treatment.
He credits Provision Center for Proton Therapy for helping him navigate through a challenging process of understanding his benefits and helping take steps to secure coverage for his treatment.
“I could’ve taken the other treatment, but from now on I would have had all those other things to deal with,” Rainey said. “I’m so thankful I found Provision.”