CDC guidelines for visiting doctor during coronavirus pandemic

CDC announces guidelines for safely visiting your doctor during coronavirus pandemic

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced new guidelines to help you stay safe when visiting your doctor or getting a prescription filled. In this article, we’ll outline some of the most important takeaways to help you stay safe during healthcare-related trips. More specifically, we’ll also share how those tips can be applied for people who are dealing with cancer.

As local governments loosen coronavirus restrictions and more businesses re-open their doors, it’s important for people to continue practicing preventive actions in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. These new guidelines from the CDC are designed to help you make an informed decision on when it’s appropriate to venture out of your home, and how to protect yourself and others when you do decide to go out.

THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR HEALTHCARE-RELATED TRIPS

1. Consider telehealth/touchless options

The first key takeaway from the CDC guidelines on visiting your doctor is to find out whether your healthcare provider offers any telehealth options. Many doctor’s offices have telehealth programs that allow you to do a virtual video chat with a physician. It may also be possible to speak with your healthcare provider through secure communication lines using telephone or email.

If you need to pick up a prescription, check to see if your pharmacy offers touchless services like drive-thru, curbside pickup or mail-order delivery. You can also ask your doctor if it’s safe for them to prescribe a larger supply than normal, so you won’t need to refill the prescription as often.

For cancer patients in particular, we are strong advocates for moving forward with your care in a timely and safe manner. In some cases, this may be as simple as a phone call to your physician, who determines that a delay in treatment is appropriate. Others may need to avoid delays in cancer treatment. Provision CARES Proton Therapy offers both in-person and telehealth consultations to help cancer patients make an informed decision about the timeliness of their treatment.

To learn more about Provision’s telehealth program, please read our Telehealth Frequently Asked Questions.

2. Practice preventive actions

If you decide to visit your doctor in person, there a few simple things you can do while out in public to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. These include washing your hands often, social distancing, and covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover. We encourage you to review the CDC’s guidelines on face coverings to better understand when and how to wear them, as well as which groups of people should not wear them.

All Provision CARES Proton Therapy centers have implemented preventive safety measures to protect the health and safety of our patients, employees and visitors. When you come to Provision for an in-person consultation, treatment or follow-up, you can rest assured we are doing everything we can to keep you safe. This includes limiting the number of visitors allowed with each patient and pre-screening everyone who enters our facilities.

To learn more about our pandemic response, please read our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions.

3. Keep a few items handy

When visiting your doctor, the CDC guidelines suggest having the following items on hand:

  • Cloth face covering
  • Tissues (to help you avoid touching your face)
  • Hand sanitizer (should contain at least 60% alcohol)

For the safety of patients, employees and visitors, many doctor’s offices now require you to wear a face covering inside their facilities. This is true for all Provision CARES Proton Therapy centers. If you do not have your own face covering, we will be happy to provide one for you upon arrival. As an added precaution and to encourage frequent handwashing, we have also increased monitoring and refilling of soap and hand sanitizer dispensers throughout our centers.

TIPS FOR OTHER ESSENTIAL TRIPS

Aside from medical visits, there are plenty of other reasons to leave your home. Whether it’s running errands, dining out, or going to the park, the CDC has guidelines for just about every situation.

Most importantly, if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever, cough or shortness of break, the CDC recommends you stay home and avoid in-person contact with others. Try taking advantage of delivery services and online options for common errands like grocery shopping, take-out dining or banking.

Some of the CDC’s other guidelines are universal no matter what your reason for going out, including wearing a cloth face covering, social distancing, using hand sanitizer while out and about, and washing your hands when you get home.

For more specific guidelines for certain situations, please visit the links below:

Running Errands: This set of guidelines includes grocery shopping, deliveries and takeout, banking and getting gas.

Personal and Social Activities: These guidelines cover dining out, hosting a gathering, using a fitness center, going to a salon, visiting a library, and traveling overnight.

Using Transportation: This includes guidelines for the use of public transit, rideshare/taxis, and personal vehicles.

Visiting Parks and Recreational Facilities: This section has some helpful Do’s and Don’ts if you plan to visit national, state, or local parks, as well as beaches, pools, and playgrounds.

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As part of the Provision CARES Cancer Network, Provision CARES Proton Therapy has locations in Knoxville, Tenn. and Nashville, Tenn. If you or someone you know has cancer, we encourage you to call a treatment center near you. One of our Cancer Care Experts can speak to you about your specific diagnosis and help determine if proton therapy may be right for you.

 

Proton therapy cancer treatment significantly lowers the risk of second cancer compared to IMRT and 3DCRT

Proton Therapy significantly lowers your risk of second cancer

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X-ray (also called photon) therapy has long been known to cause the development of potentially deadly new cancers in patients who undergo radiation therapy to treat their cancer. However, research shows that patients who choose proton therapy for cancer treatment have a significantly lower risk of developing a second cancer later in life. In a  comprehensive study published last month in Cancer, the prestigious, peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, researchers at Stanford University found that patients who were treated with x-ray therapy developed more than three times as many new cancers as patients treated with proton therapy.1

ABOUT THE STUDY

The study was conducted by Stanford University physicians Michael Xiang, MD, PhD; Daniel T. Chang, MD; and Erqi L. Pollom, MD, MS. Their research team conducted a retrospective cohort study using the National Cancer Database (NDCB), the most comprehensive cancer registry in the United States.

The study included over 450,000 patients of all ages with a variety of cancers, such as:

  • Prostate
  • Head and neck
  • Breast
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Gynecologic
  • Lymphoma
  • Lung (non-small cell)
  • Bone/soft tissue
  • Brain/central nervous system

Patients included in the study were treated with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3DCRT), or proton therapy between 2004 and 2015. They were followed for a minimum of 2 years and an average of 5 years after receiving radiation therapy.

RESULTS HEAVILY FAVOR PROTON THERAPY

Compared to proton therapy, the incidence of second cancers was 3.5 times higher after IMRT and 3.6 times higher after 3DCRT, the two most common forms of x-ray radiation therapy. These differences were found to be highly significant. Proton therapy decreased the overall risk of developing a second cancer by over two-thirds (69%) compared to IMRT. In fact, proton therapy reduced the occurrence of second cancer for eight of the nine types of cancer most commonly treated with radiation therapy.

Compared to IMRT, proton therapy substantially reduced the risk of developing a second cancer for most disease sites, including:

  • 82% reduction among prostate cancer patients
  • 58% reduction among head and neck cancer patients
  • 38% reduction among breast cancer patients with at least five years of follow-up
  • 69% reduction among all cancer patients

“These findings show the extraordinary benefits of proton therapy when it comes to reducing the risk of second cancers, confirming the results of prior modeling studies,” says Mike Sommi, President of Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville. “The data powerfully bears out the theories regarding the benefits of proton therapy in terms of reducing the risk of second cancers.”

The dramatic reduction in risk of second cancers is likely due to to the fact that protons concentrate their radiation delivery within the cancer much better than x-rays. Patients treated with x-rays absorb 2-3 times more radiation in their bodies than patients treated with protons.4-6 The excess radiation from x-rays can severely damage and mutate healthy cells, resulting in serious toxicities, including causing a new cancer.

Proton therapy cancer treatment reduces your risk of developing a second cancer, compared to x-ray/IMRT.

STUDY CONFIRMS PRIOR RESEARCH

The Stanford study confirms the findings of a previously published study from Harvard using the other main American cancer registry, the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. The Harvard study found the second cancer rate to be 48% lower after proton therapy, compared to x-ray treatment. The average follow-up period in the Harvard study was 6 years after radiation therapy. 18

The Harvard study noted that while proton therapy reduced second cancers in all age groups, protons may be particularly beneficial for young patients, who have decades to accumulate radiation-induced cancers. In children, for example, x-ray therapy is estimated to increase second cancers by 600-1,000%.19-21

“As time passes and the follow-up period for these patients lengthens, the benefits of proton therapy will become even more pronounced,” Sommi agrees. “This is especially important for patients who expect to survive 10 years or more.”

OTHER BENEFITS OF PROTON THERAPY FOR CANCER TREATMENT

The results of this study highlight yet another clinically-proven benefit of proton therapy for cancer treatment. Because proton therapy precisely targets the tumor and avoids unnecessary radiation to nearby healthy tissue and organs, patients have a lower risk of short-term and long-term side effects.

Depending on cancer type, other benefits of proton therapy include:

Prostate Cancer

  • 25% lower risk of erectile dysfunction7
  • 35% less radiation to bladder8
  • 59% less radiation to rectum8

Head, Neck and Oral Cancer

  • 27% reduction in overall risk of needing a feeding tube for oropharyngeal cancer9
  • 45% reduction in overall risk of needing a feeding tube for nasopharyngeal cancer10
  • Dramatic reduction of negative impact on taste, nausea and painful changes to the mouth in salivary gland treatment11

Breast Cancer

  • 88% less radiation to the heart for left-sided breast cancer9,10
  • 44% reduction in clinically significant radiation doses to the lung10
  • 90% of partial breast irradiation cases result in good to excellent cosmetic outcomes at 5 years11

Brain and Spine Cancer

  • 31% increase in disease control for aggressive tumors at base of skull (chordomas) at 5 years12
  • 50% less likely to have secondary brain tumor from treatment13
  • 55% reduction in average dose to the hippocampi (memory function) in treatment of meningioma14

Esophageal

  • 26% reduction in lung toxicity compared with IMRT15
  • 21% reduction in the risk of severe, treatment-related lymphopenia, particularly in lower esophagus16
  • 3-4 day reduction in average hospital stay after surgery17

To learn about other cancers that can be treated with proton therapy, and to read about the benefits of proton therapy for those cancers, visit our Cancers We Treat page.


Sources & Studies

  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.
  2. Journy NM, Morton LM< Kleinerman RA, Bekelman JE, Berrington de Gonzalez A. Second primary cancers after intensity-modulated vs 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy for prostate cancer. JAMA Oncol. 2016;2:1368-1370.
  3. Diallo I, Haddy N, Adjadj E, et al. Frequency distribution of second solid cancer locations in relation to the irradiated volume among 115 patients treated for childhood cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2009;74:876-883.
  4. Eaton BR, MacDonald SM, Yock TI, Tarbell NJ. Secondary malignancy risk following proton radiation therapy. Front Oncol. 2015;5:261.
  5. Chargari C, Goodman KA, Diallo I, et al. Risk of second cancers in the era of modern radiation therapy: does the risk/benefit analysis overcome theoretical models? Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2016;35:277-288.
  6. Hoppe BS, Flampouri S, Su Z, et al. Consolidative involved-node proton therapy for stage IA-IIIB mediastinal Hodgkin lymphoma: preliminary dosimetric outcomes from a phase II study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012;83:260-267.
  7. Comparative toxicity and cost of Intensity-Modulated Radiotherapy, Proton Radiation, and Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy Among Younger Men With Prostate Cancer. Read More
  8. Dose–Volume Comparison of Proton Therapy and Intensity-Modulated Radiotherapy for Prostate Cancer. Read More
  9. Gastrostomy Tubes Decrease by Over 50% With Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy (IMPT) During the Treatment of Oropharyngeal Cancer Patients. Read More
  10. Proton therapy reduces treatment-related toxicities for patients with nasopharyngeal cancer: a case-match control study of IMPT and IMRT. Read More
  11. Proton beam radiation therapy results in significantly reduced toxicity compared with intensity-modulated radiation therapy for head and neck tumors that require ipsilateral radiation. Read More
  12. Effectiveness and Safety of Spot Scanning Proton Radiation Therapy for Chordomas and Chondrosarcomas of the Skull Base: First Long-Term Report. Read More
  13. A comparison of critical structure dose and toxicity risks in patients with low grade gliomas treated with IMRT versus proton radiation therapy. Read More
  14. Projected second tumor risk and dose to neurocognitive structures after proton versus photon radiotherapy for benign meningioma. Read More
  15. A Multi-Institutional Analysis of Trimodality Therapy for Esophageal Cancer in Elderly Patients. Read More
  16. Lymphocyte-sparing Effect of proton therapy in patients with esophageal cancer treated with definitive chemoradiation. Read More
  17. Multi-institutional analysis of radiation modality use and postoperative outcomes of neoadjuvant chemoradiation for esophageal cancer. Read More
  18. Chung CS, Yock TI, Nelson K, Xu Y, Keating NL, Tarbell NJ. Incidence of second malignancies among patients treated with proton versus photon radiation. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2013 Sep 1;87(1):46-52. doin: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2013.04.030. Pub 2013 Jun 15.
  19. Curtis RE, Freedman DM, Roe E, et al. eds. New malignancies among cancer survivors: SEER Cancer Registries, 1973-2000. NIH Publ. No. 05-5302. National Cancer Institute; 2006.
  20. Yock TI, Caruso PA. Risk of second cancers after photon and proton radiotherapy: a review of the data. Health Phys. 2012;103:577.
  21. Taylor C, Correa C, Duane FK, et al. Estimating the risks of breast cancer radiotherapy: evidence from modern radiation doses to the lungs and heart and from previous randomized trials. J Clin Oncol. 2017;35:1641-1649.

 

NAPT celebrates 30 years of supporting access to proton therapy

National Association for Proton Therapy celebrates 30 years supporting access to proton therapy

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The National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT) announced it will host its annual National Proton Conference through a virtual experience. The online event, which will take place on July 24, 2020, is a celebration of the organization’s 30-year anniversary of supporting access to proton therapy, one of the world’s most advanced cancer treatments.

NEW PLANS, SAME MISSION

The NAPT was planning to host the 2020 National Proton Conference in Nashville earlier this year, with keynote speaker Scott Hamilton, an Olympic Gold Medalist and U.S. and World Figure Skating Champion. However, the group was forced to shift their efforts to offer an interactive live virtual conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We knew in early March that it would not be safe for our attendees to travel and gather in person at our National Proton Conference,” says Jennifer Maggiore, NAPT Executive Director. “Just as it is vital for cancer care to continue in this pandemic, we felt it was important to support patients by ensuring education about advanced treatments continues for the proton therapy community.”

As part of its mission, NAPT supports increased awareness and access to proton therapy by providing education and bringing leaders in the field together. This is especially important now, with the travel concerns brought on by COVID-19, as many cancer patients who need proton therapy do not have access to it in their region.

In response to the global crisis, Maggiore says the NAPT quickly re-worked the logistics of its conference so the proton therapy community would not miss an opportunity to learn about the latest advancements in the field of Proton Beam Therapy (PBT). There has been significant research published recently supporting the benefits of PBT. The NAPT says the need to educate the community on that research in a timely manner validates their decision to move forward with a virtual conference.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE 2020 NAPT CONFERENCE

The original conference planned a special reception in Nashville to celebrate 30 years as the “Voice of the Proton Community.” Now, the online conference will feature a virtual Happy Hour with a nod to Nashville’s “Music City” fame.

“For the virtual conference, we are supporting the community of musicians who are unable to perform during the pandemic by hiring Nicole Zuraitas to provide live music at our virtual Happy Hour,” explains Maggiore. “We will toast to our 30-year anniversary at the end of the conference. This will be a great opportunity to engage with our proton therapy community in a safe environment.”

The conference will still include a speech from Hamilton, says Nancy Howard, 2020 Conference Chair and Vice President of Marketing at Provision CARES Proton Therapy. “We are honored that Scott Hamilton will kick off the conference with a welcome to conference attendees,” Howard remarks. “He is a cancer survivor and a true advocate for cancer patients and proton therapy.”

In addition to these festivities, the program agenda includes presentations from leaders and experts in proton therapy from Penn Medicine, Johns Hopkins Proton Center, Mayo Clinic and other leading cancer programs. These speakers will share their insight on relevant research and issues affecting cancer patients.

“During this pandemic, we have witnessed the decline in access to cancer care and major barriers for patients seeking preventative and curative treatment for cancer,” adds Maggiore. “It is more important than ever to strengthen our collaboration through shared knowledge to advocate and promote cancer care, research and access to the most advanced and innovative technologies available for cancer patients.”

MORE ABOUT NAPT

The NAPT began as the Proton Therapy Consortium in 1990. It is an independent nonprofit organization founded with the goal of educating and increasing awareness about the clinical benefits of proton therapy. Currently, its members include 37 of the nation’s leading cancer centers, some of which are comprehensive cancer centers as designated by the National Cancer Institute, as well as members of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

“NAPT evolved beyond my wildest dreams,” says Len Artz, one of the organization’s founding members. “It continues to make a profound difference in patients’ health and wellbeing. It stands on the shoulders of many proton community leaders over the years. It continues to grow as an organization and expand its outreach that makes me very proud.”

The NAPT states is mission is to work collaboratively to raise public awareness of the clinical benefits of proton therapy, ensure patients’ choice and access to affordable proton therapy, and encourage cooperative research and innovation to advance the appropriate and cost-effective utilization of proton therapy.

Provision CARES Proton Therapy is a member of the NAPT and shares a similar vision of making proton therapy a clinical reality. With locations in Knoxville and Nashville, Provision represents the only cancer centers offering proton therapy in the East and Middle Tennessee regions. As of June 2020, the centers have treated more than 4,000 patients with a wide range of cancer types.

exercise for seniors during coronavirus pandemic

Exercise for Seniors: 5 Tips to Help You Stay Active During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Exercise is an important part of healthy aging, but seniors are facing new challenges when it comes to staying active during the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing and “Safer-at-home” guidelines make it more difficult to stick to your typical exercise routine, like going to a gym or your community center. And the fact that you’re staying at home more often means there’s a good chance you’re moving less.

The National Council on Aging says daily movement can help improve many aspects of your overall health, including blood pressure, weight management, back pain and even your emotional health. So how much exercise should seniors get? The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend healthy older adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Older adults with chronic health conditions who may not be able to meet that guideline should still do their best to maintain regular physical activity.

Cancer diagnosis? Check out these articles with exercise tips for cancer patients:
Why Cancer Patients Shouldn’t Skip Exercise
How Exercise, Diet Boost Cancer Survival Rate

150 minutes of exercise might sound intimidating, maybe even overwhelming, especially given the obstacles posed by the pandemic. We hope the following tips will offer you some motivation and make it easier for seniors to stay active while at home.

  1. Sit Less

    Staying at home naturally means you’re not getting out as much. That means you’re probably not moving as much either.  A great way to stay active while at home is simply remembering to sit less.

    Turning off the television will give you one less reason to sit. Keep the TV off and work on those home projects you’ve been meaning to finish. Find some fun activities like gardening or just taking a walk around the block.

    When you do watch TV, take advantage of the commercial breaks and take a lap around the house. You can even use those 2-3 minutes to get some chores done like doing the laundry or emptying the dishwasher.

    If walking or standing is difficult for you, there are many exercises you can do while seated. Here’s an article from Silver Sneakers with four effective chair exercises. It even includes video demonstrations to help you do them.

  2. Make a “Move List”

    Planning out your daily exercises makes it much easier for seniors to stick to their goals. To make your “Move List,” ask yourself how you plan to get moving today. The list can include things like:

    • Get the mail
    • Take a walk
    • Yard work
    • Put on some music and dance

    Build those activities into your daily schedule. Will you take a 20-minute walk before breakfast to get the day going? Maybe you’ll get the mail after lunch.

    This video from the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) can help spark some ideas on how to get exercise with items you might already have around your house.

  3. Mix It Up

    Variety is very important to avoid your exercise routine becoming mundane. There are four types of exercise on which seniors should focus: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. The NIA offers some great ideas to work on each of these areas, along with important safety tips.

    Improving your health in each of these areas comes with many benefits:

    • Endurance: Makes things like climbing stairs or dancing easier
    • Strength: Makes lifting groceries or carrying grandchildren easier
    • Balance: Helps prevent falls and related injuries
    • Flexibility: Makes common tasks like getting dressed and driving easier
  4. Develop an exercise routine

    If you have fallen out of your exercise routine, getting back into the habit can be difficult even in normal times. The new challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic don’t make it any easier, but there are a few things you can do to get the ball rolling. As a first step, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends speaking with your doctor before increasing your activity level. They even offer some important questions seniors should ask to help tailor an exercise routine to their needs and abilities.

    Once you’re ready to begin, make a list of fitness goals. Goals can be short-term, like finding an exercise buddy or getting more comfortable walking shoes. You should also set some long-term goals like lowering your blood pressure or losing weight.

    A great way to start making progress toward your goals is to write out your exercise plan. This will help keep you accountable and give you a clear roadmap to maintaining an active lifestyle. Try this interactive Activity Planner from the Department of Health and Human Services to help you get going.

  5. Overcome Excuses

    At some point, you’re bound to have one of those days where you just don’t feel like exercising. Here are some of the most common excuses and ways you can overcome them.

    • I don’t have time. If you find yourself feeling too busy to get moving, make it part of your day. Scheduling your daily exercise means you are making time for it, helping to hold you accountable.
    • It’s boring. Try to find physical activities that you enjoy. It might be dancing, gardening, or taking a walk with your neighbor. Just be sure to practice safe social distancing when exercising with others.
    • It costs too much. You don’t necessarily need expensive equipment to stay active. If you’re strength training, use household items like water bottles or soup cans as weights. There are also plenty of free workout videos available online. Check out this playlist from the NCHPAD for ideas for home workouts, both seated and standing.
    • I’m too tired. Once you get moving, you may actually feel less tired. Physical activity can help reduce fatigue. Exercising can even help you feel less anxious and stressed.

Remaining active while staying home is very important. We hope these tips help you find an exercise routine that works for you. If you’d like more information about exercise for seniors, the NIA has some great ideas for staying motivated, as well as safety tips and tracking tools to help you stick to your routine.

Male cancer patient using telehealth

Telehealth can help cancer patients during coronavirus pandemic

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Trying to navigate your cancer care journey is challenging enough without the added stress of a global pandemic.  Normally, you would schedule an in-person consultation with a physician to discuss your treatment options. Understandably though, many cancer patients now have reservations about going out in public during the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, telehealth provides a safe way for someone with cancer to continue moving forward with their care in a timely manner.

Provision CARES Proton Therapy implemented an expanded telehealth program in March 2020. This has allowed us to continue helping cancer patients in a safe environment, while also limiting the number of people at our centers. Since March, our physicians have conducted many telehealth consultations and virtual follow-up appointments. Our telehealth program allows someone who has been recently diagnosed with cancer to remain at home and speak directly to a physician through a video connection about their diagnosis, treatment options and next steps.  Our Cancer Care Experts can help patients through this process.

CANCER CARE PROVIDERS TURN TO TECHNOLOGY

The coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of the healthcare industry. When the outbreak began to gain momentum in the United States, hospitals made operational changes to accommodate a potential influx of COVID-19 patients. Many general practitioners and specialists began to postpone well-visits and elective procedures. Specialty healthcare providers, including cancer treatment centers, also made adjustments to keep their patients, employees and visitors safe. Many of those providers, including Provision CARES Proton Therapy, turned to technology, broadening their ability to provide cancer care through the use of telehealth.

A recent survey indicated nearly half of all physicians are now communicating with patients through telemedicine, a stark rise from just two years ago. The survey, conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a physician search firm, in collaboration with The Physicians Foundation, sought to learn how COVID-19 is impacting physicians and how they are responding. It found that 48 percent of physicians are using telemedicine with patients. A similar study by The Physicians Foundation in 2018 had that number at just 18 percent.

The increase in telehealth usage was aided further after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced they would broaden access to Medicare telehealth services as part of the federal government’s emergency pandemic response.

CANCER & TELEHEALTH FROM A PHYSICIAN’S PERSPECTIVE

James Gray, MD, FACRO, Medical Director at Provision CARES Proton Therapy NashvilleSince the use of telehealth for medical appointments is becoming more common, we’re providing some firsthand insight into how it works and why it’s such a valuable tool for cancer patients. We asked the medical director of Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville, Dr. James Gray, a few questions about his experience with telehealth during the pandemic. Dr. Gray is a board-certified radiation oncologist who has spent 30 years studying cancer and helping patients navigate their cancer care journey.

What are your general thoughts on the use of telehealth for cancer care?

“I believe telehealth substantially contributes to our ability to communicate with patients.  While this applies across all areas of healthcare, it particularly applies to services which are restricted or to which there is limited access.  Proton therapy is a prime example of this.  I can interact with and advise patients who might not otherwise find it reasonable or even possible to travel to our center, or any other proton center.  Such patients may find that proton therapy has possible benefits for their circumstance and might make the trip worthwhile.”

What kind of feedback have you heard from cancer patients who’ve used telehealth?

“Generally good.  Telehealth allows us to help prevent a delay in the cancer patient’s process. As long as an in-person assessment is not necessary, then a telehealth consult allows me to counsel a patient quite well based on medical records and images forwarded to us in advance.  If equally feasible, an in-person visit is still superior for this communication, but a telehealth visit allows me to get the message across and answer the patient’s questions.”

What would you tell a patient who’s nervous about trying a telehealth appointment?

“I reassure the patient and family members that the telehealth visit can start the process of managing their cancer, but more interactions will follow in order to answer subsequent questions and direct further workup of their disease.  If the reason the patient feels nervous or uncomfortable is simply a technology concern, we can have our administrative staff reach out to them and their family to provide assistance.”

As a doctor, how has telehealth helped you during the coronavirus pandemic?

“It allows me to interact with more patients, and in a more timely manner, than I otherwise could due to visitation restrictions, or perhaps just logistics of travel for the patient.  I receive gratification from counseling patients through a rough time, always hoping to alleviate concerns and fears about issues they don’t understand and taking away some of the uncertainty of their next steps.”

Are there other ways cancer care providers are taking advantage of technology during the pandemic?

“Besides avoiding unnecessary contact between care providers and patients, physicians have suspended our in-person meetings called tumor boards or tumor conferences.  But there is a silver lining to this change because we have been forced to become better at virtual meetings, allowing us to exchange ideas and recommendations through audio/visual software.  Again, in-person meetings will likely always be preferable when reasonable, but the ability to attend the meeting virtually from your office or home has been given a big boost during this time.  Ultimately, comfort with this type of meeting attendance makes the meeting more accessible.  And the more we interact, the better we explore all options for our patients.”


To learn more about Dr. Gray and the other board-certified radiation oncologists at Provision CARES Proton Therapy, please visit Our Physicians page. If you are interested in learning more about proton therapy or scheduling a telehealth consultation, please call the Treatment Location closest to you and speak with one of our Cancer Care Experts.

coronavirus cancer care

Moving forward with your cancer care during the coronavirus pandemic

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Life during the coronavirus pandemic is far from normal. Whether it’s work, finances, family, personal health or countless other worries, most people have some added anxiety during these times. And for cancer patients, who are already experiencing a traumatic life change, the fear and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic can make matters even worse.

A cancer diagnosis in normal times comes with many questions. What is my prognosis? How do I treat my cancer? How is my quality of life going to be impacted? Now though, the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 sparks even more questions. It also casts doubt on whether it’s even safe to move forward with your cancer care at this time.

We know there is a lot of uncertainty right now, but one thing is certain: your cancer does not know about the coronavirus. Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed or are currently undergoing treatment, Provision CARES Proton Therapy is here to help you navigate your cancer journey amidst this global pandemic. In this article, we’ll discuss how the coronavirus is impacting cancer patients, and look at the next steps you can take to proceed with your cancer care; whether it’s meeting with a physician to talk about treatment options or following a prescribed treatment plan. We’ll also explain how we’ve adapted our own policies and procedures to make sure we can deliver timely cancer treatment in a safe environment.

What cancer patients should know about the coronavirus

According to the CDC, there are many types of human coronaviruses, some of which cause upper-respiratory tract illnesses. They were first identified in the 1960s, but COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a new (novel) type of coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.  As a result, there is not yet a vaccine or cure.

The CDC has identified groups of people who may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including those over the age of 65 and people who are immunocompromised. Cancer patients undergoing chemo or radiation treatment are often considered immunocompromised, meaning they are generally more susceptible to illness. Therefore, we understand people who have been recently diagnosed may be hesitant to begin cancer treatment. Likewise, for those patients already receiving treatment, you may feel a lot of fear and anxiety about going out in public.

It is recommended people in high-risk groups limit their travel, but there are some situations where a trip is essential. This can include medical appointments and our physicians can help you determine whether such trips are essential for you. The good news is there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself during those essential trips out of your home. Because COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person, these include social distancing (keeping space between yourself and others), avoiding crowds, and washing your hands often. We have taken steps to make sure you can continue following these precautions while visiting our proton therapy centers. The CDC also recommends wearing a cloth face covering. However, it’s important to understand a cloth face covering is not intended to protect the person wearing it, but rather prevent the spread of the virus in case the person wearing it is infected.

How to proceed with cancer care during the pandemic

Cancer care begins once you are diagnosed and continues as you meet with a physician, determine a treatment plan, then follow your treatment plan to completion. If you have recently been diagnosed, it’s important to remember that every cancer diagnosis is unique. In some cases, it may be appropriate to delay treatment until the risk of contracting COVID-19 has decreased. This can be determined before or after you begin treatment. On the other hand, some patients may need to proceed with cancer treatment right away. It is best to consult with a physician to help make this decision.

As a first step in your cancer care journey, we recommend calling Provision CARES Proton Therapy to speak with a Cancer Care Expert. They can help you determine whether a consultation with one of our physicians would be beneficial for you, and whether your consultation should be in-person or via telehealth.

During your consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with one of our board-certified Radiation Oncologists to talk about your cancer diagnosis, answer any questions you may have, and review your treatment options. At that time, you and your physician can decide whether it’s best to move forward with treatment or delay it.

We know many people who have recently been diagnosed with cancer are hesitant to leave their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we offer telehealth consultations that allow you to remain at home and speak directly to a physician using any smartphone, tablet or computer with video capability. This technology may seem intimidating at first, but our Cancer Care Experts can help guide you through our simple process step-by-step. To learn more about our telehealth program, please visit our Telehealth FAQ section.

Some patients may benefit more from an in-person consultation based on their cancer diagnosis. This will be determined by your physician. For those patients, as well as those already undergoing treatment, we encourage you to follow the CDC recommendations for essential travel. All of our centers are stand-alone buildings, not busy hospitals, and we are taking preventative measures to ensure we can deliver safe care to our patients.

What we’re doing to help

Whether you are at the beginning of your cancer care journey or already a patient undergoing proton therapy treatment, Provision CARES Proton Therapy is committed to your health and safety. Many cancer patients have expressed anxiety about being diagnosed with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we understand that cancer care goes on, so we’ve taken steps to make sure patients feel as comfortable and safe as possible while moving forward with their cancer care amidst the pandemic.

Our compliance and safety staff is monitoring the most up-to-date policies and recommendations from the Tennessee Department of Health and CDC.  In accordance with those recommendations, we have implemented many preventative measures so that we may continue treating new and existing patients at all of our centers. These include:

  • Screening all patients and visitors before they enter the building
  • Limiting patients to a maximum of one visitor
  • Increased monitoring of soap/hand sanitizer dispensers
  • Implementing work-from-home capability for many non-clinical employees in order to limit the number of people at our centers

Despite the fear and uncertainty during these times, it’s important to move forward with your cancer care, while still taking the proper precautions to keep yourself safe from COVID-19. If you are currently undergoing proton therapy at Provision, any questions you have about delaying or suspending your treatment should be discussed with your radiation oncologist.

For patients who have recently been diagnosed, sometimes proceeding with your cancer care is as simple as a discussion with your physician to determine whether it’s safe to wait things out. For others though, a delay in treatment might not be worth the risk. Ultimately, only you and your physician can make that decision. That’s why we encourage you to take the first step in moving forward with your cancer care during the coronavirus pandemic by calling one of our Cancer Care Experts to help answer your questions.

 

A message from Provision leadership regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus)

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In response to the presence of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Tennessee, effective Friday, March 13, Provision is taking the following preventative measures to protect the health of our patients, employees, and visitors:

  1. All patients are asked to bring no more than one visitor or caregiver with them to our center.
  2. Upon arrival at any of our centers, patients and visitors will be asked to complete a brief COVID-19 screening questionnaire.
  3. Visitors and/or caregivers that are experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have traveled to/from any area that has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 will be asked to leave the building.
  4. All non-essential gatherings have been discontinued for the foreseeable future, including chat sessions, patient luncheons, and facility tours.
  5. More comprehensive cleaning and disinfection procedures have been implemented at all of our facilities.
  6. All patients, visitors, and employees are being asked to wash their hands often, maintain physical distance of at least three feet from others, and follow good cough/sneeze etiquette.
  7. All employees are screened daily for symptoms associated with COVID-19 to determine whether they may continue providing care at the Center.
  8. All patients are screened daily for symptoms associated with COVID-19 and, depending on the outcome of the screening, may be asked to postpone their appointment until they have been tested for the virus.

If you have questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 FAQ section to learn more about the steps we are taking to ensure your cancer treatment does not get delayed.

Provision doctor diagnosed with cancer, chooses proton therapy for his own treatment

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This story starts the way a lot of cancer stories start. A visit to the doctor for an unrelated issue. A few tests. And then, while trying to solve one problem, the doctor discovers another – a red flag.

That discovery sparks a journey down a road far too many have traveled. First, more trips to the doctor. Then more tests. And then the waiting. Waiting with fear and uncertainty – hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. Until eventually, the wait is over and the news is in…

It’s cancer.

And from there, this story continues down a common path. Mulling over questions like “How bad is it?” and “How do I deal with this?” Determining the options and choosing a treatment. And of course, fighting the cancer.

There’s something uncommon about this story, though – the person making the journey. Because he’s literally been down this road hundreds of times before. He knows the roadmap better than most, because he’s guided people through it for decades.

The only difference this time? He’s no longer the guide. This is his journey.

FROM DOCTOR TO PATIENT

James Gray, MD, FACRO, Medical Director at Provision CARES Proton Therapy NashvilleDr. James Gray is a board-certified Radiation Oncologist and the Medical Director at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville. His career includes work with the National Naval Medical Center and the National Cancer Institute. He began practicing radiation oncology in Nashville in the mid-1990s, including membership in Tennessee Oncology, one of the largest privately-held physician groups in the country. He has established his reputation as a pioneer in the industry, performing many advanced procedures never-before-seen in the region.

Accomplishments and accolades, aside, it’s Dr. Gray’s passion and commitment to his patients that define him. He’s spent 30 years studying cancer and helping patients navigate the difficult path of fighting it.

“I get to work with patients in a time of dire need for them. They undergo a diagnosis of cancer, and this is terribly frightening for most people to accept and move forward,” says Dr. Gray. “Helping someone move through that. Counseling them. Making them understand their disease. That’s what brings joy to me – the actual effort of bringing this understanding to those patients and then bringing the best possible care to them. That drives me every day.”

Then, in 2019, he visited a physician to check out a minor health issue. During that visit, Dr. Gray underwent a PSA level screening. Much to his surprise, the levels came back slightly elevated – a possible indication of prostate cancer.

“I realized with that PSA level, I needed to pursue this, and I went to see another physician – an outstanding urologist – and he proceeded with a diagnostic work up. That led to some other lab tests, an examination and then a biopsy.”

Dr. Gray recalled the anxiety he felt during the days following the biopsy. “You’ve got to wait maybe 3 or 4 days to get the pathology results back. I got to live firsthand that trepidation – that worry of, ‘Oh gosh. I hope it’s not cancer.’”

Unfortunately, though, it was cancer. Prostate cancer.

“It put me in a unique position where I’ve actually counseled patients who’ve just gotten this news. I’ve counseled probably more patients in this setting than anybody else in the area. All of a sudden, I’m counseling myself. Now, I’m the patient.”

WEIGHING THE OPTIONS

After receiving the news of his cancer diagnosis, Dr. Gray says he had a 30-year head start on the typical patient. As an established Nashville oncologist, he already had a strong grasp on the answers to questions like, “What does this mean for my life?” and “Am I going to die from this?” However, it was still important for him to remain objective, gather information about the severity of his cancer, then step back and make a clear treatment decision.

The initial decision for most prostate cancer patients is to determine whether the cancer is actually worthy of treatment, or if it would be more appropriate to observe it through active surveillance. In Dr. Gray’s case, he felt the cancer was threatening enough to treat immediately.

The next big divide – the “fork in the road,” as Dr. Gray calls it – is to decide whether to remove the prostate surgically or treat the tumor with radiation therapy.

“For me, that was not a difficult decision,” he says. “Knowing what I know about the likelihood of getting rid of the disease and the likelihood of having any kind of consequences from the treatment itself, I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to have radiation.”

That led to his next decision – choosing a radiation therapy method. There are many options for prostate cancer patients, including traditional x-ray radiation, radioactive seed implants (brachytherapy) and proton therapy.

For Dr. Gray, this was another easy decision. “One of the key advantages of proton therapy is that we’re putting (radiation) into the tumor with as little unnecessary dose to other tissues as possible. That inherently reduces the possibility of side effects – fatigue, difficulty with urination or bowels in my circumstance. So statistically, I am convinced. I’ve seen the data. I know what I consider to be the best treatment for prostate cancer, in my particular setting, was a proton therapy treatment system.”

“And fortunately, I happen to work at a proton system.”

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

They say it’s important to have a good work-life balance in your career. In Dr. Gray’s case, those two worlds collided as soon as the radiation oncologist began his proton therapy treatment in Nashville.

“I could actually go to work every day and receive a treatment – close to six weeks of treatment – but I was just going to work. And for 20 or 30 minutes, I stepped into the patient role, had my treatment, then went back into the doctor role.”

Dr. Gray remembers the transition from doctor to patient being fairly easy, mainly because of the trust he had in the treatment itself, as well as the Provision CARES team performing the treatment.

“For a lot of patients, they have to slowly gain the trust in me as their physician. They have to gain the trust in the people that are going to do their treatment. They have to gain the trust in the technology,” notes Dr. Gray. “I didn’t have those misgivings. I knew that when I was being treated, very bright people were watching over the treatment and making sure it was done right. I know how competent, outstanding and professional those people are, so I didn’t have any qualms about that.”

In fact, Dr. Gray’s positive attitude during his treatment actually helped the other staff members deal with a situation in which their colleague, friend and mentor was battling cancer – and they happened to be the ones treating it.

“I’ve never been in that situation before where you’re treating someone that you know so closely,” remembers Justin Pigg, Radiation Therapy Manager at Provision Nashville. “But to Dr. Gray, he just wanted to be treated like any other patient. He wanted the patient experience.”

“He was really calm and really strong through it, and I think that helped everybody else be calm, as well,” says Valerie Bohannon, the proton center’s Patient Concierge.

That sense of calm among the team was critical, as just about everyone at Provision Nashville had some role in Dr. Gray’s treatment.

“It’s all the way from the top to the bottom,” Dr. Gray says. “Every member of this staff had something to do with making sure my treatment went well. They all wished me well. They all asked me how I was doing. They were genuinely concerned about this.”

And that concern – that culture of care – is what Provision is all about. Dr. Gray hears it from his patients all the time.

“They will tell me how impressed they are from the moment they walk in the door to the time they’re leaving the center. They felt like they’ve been enveloped in care. And I felt the exact same way. It was obvious to me that I was brought into that care – that love – that people wanted me to do well.”

WALKING IN THE PATIENT’S SHOES

Dr. Gray, a Nashville oncologist, completing his proton therapy treatment at Provision CARES NashvilleDr. Gray successfully completed proton therapy in January 2020, placing him in a rare category of radiation oncologists who’ve actually been through the very cancer treatment in which they specialize. He says the entire experience impacted the way he’ll approach his role as a doctor going forward.

“It was enlightening. Going through the treatment myself gave me quite a bit of a different perspective. It’s important for me to understand that my personal experience can be translated only some degree to my patients, but at least having a taste of it allowed me to understand a bit more how they see it – how they experience the whole treatment process.”

That “taste” of proton therapy, as he calls it, will now be another tool for a Nashville oncologist who is passionate about making this effective and successful treatment available to as many people as possible.

“Some people suggested I had to choose proton therapy because I work at a proton therapy center. No, not necessarily. I’m not going to compromise my own good health just to make a point in my professional career. I wanted to have the best outcome, and I genuinely believe my best outcome would be achieved through the use of proton therapy.”

And with 36 operating proton centers across the country, why did he choose to be treated at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville? He says that was another easy decision.

“Why would I leave here when I know I’ve got great people here to treat me. I can get world class treatment by world class people just downstairs from my office. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of that?”

2019 Year in Review at Provision CARES Proton Therapy

Year in Review: 2019 at Provision CARES Proton Therapy

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Major milestones. Community outreach. Inspirational moments.

Those are some of the recurring themes we noticed as we looked back on the highlights of 2019 at Provision CARES Proton Therapy. It was a year marked by plenty of “firsts,” as well as a concerted effort to be an innovative leader in cancer treatment, and a commitment to our mission of making proton therapy more accessible to patients around the world.

Here are some of Provision’s key moments from 2019.


DR. LAVEY JOINS PROVISION
Dr. Robert Lavey2019 started out with an exciting addition to our expert team of Board-Certified Radiation Oncologists, as Robert Lavey, MD, MPH joined Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville. Dr. Lavey has vast experience in treating all types of cancers and is an internationally recognized expert in pediatric malignancies.

He is also passionate about serving and educating the community to decrease the chance of developing cancer, improve care and ease the journey during and after treatment. To read more about Dr. Lavey’s career, family and other interests, visit this blog post from January.


KNOXVILLE CELEBRATES 5TH ANNIVERSARY
Our Knoxville center opened its doors to patients on January 20, 2014. Since then, we have treated nearly 3,000 patients from dozens of states and even a number of different countries. It’s taken just five years for the Knoxville campus to grow into a comprehensive cancer treatment location. In addition to the Proton Therapy Center, the campus is also home to services for oncology, surgery, immunotherapy, traditional radiation, clinical trials, health and fitness, physical therapy, imaging and more.


NATIONAL PROTON CONFERENCE
In March, Provision was proudly represented at the National Proton Conference in Miami. We strive to be experts in the industry so we can provide our patients with the highest level of treatment. This conference, hosted by the National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT), is an excellent opportunity to learn about a wide range of topics, including clinical and business operations, patient advocacy, research and advances in proton therapy technology.

Not only did a number of Provision team members attend this event, they also made valuable contributions. Our speakers served on a number of panels and spoke at sessions on topics such as patient experience and proton therapy education.


CHIEF MEDICAL PHYSICIST SPEAKS AT CIRMS
Niek Schreuder, Chief Medical Physicist at Provision, speaks at the 2019 CIRMS Annual Meeting.In April, Our VP and Chief Medical Physicist, Niek Schreuder, traveled to Maryland to join a group of leading industry experts at the Council on Ionizing Radiation Measurements & Standards (CIRMS). The 27th annual meeting of CIRMS focused on “Strengthening the Economy and Homeland Security with Radiation Measurements and Standards.” As a worldwide leader in his field, Mr. Schreuder had the opportunity to present a lecture on the Economics of Particle Therapy.


NASHVILLE TREATS 1ST PATIENT WITH PRONOVA SC360 SYSTEM
On April 29, Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville successfully treated the first patient on its ProNova SC360 proton therapy system. This milestone established a new standard of excellence with the world’s smallest 360-degree superconducting compact gantry for protons.

The ProNova SC360 Proton Therapy System, manufactured at Provision’s ProNova Solutions in Maryville, Tenn., includes state-of-the-art features like pencil beam scanning and advanced imaging with cone-beam computer tomography (CBCT) for adaptive treatment, all in a compact design.

The size, cost and capabilities of the SC360 make it the smallest, most economical and most operationally flexible unit in the pipeline today. “This is a no-compromise solution,” said Terry Douglass, Chairman of Provision Healthcare. “It delivers not only reduced cost and compelling economics, but greater clinical capabilities than other proton therapy system suppliers.”


COMMUNITY RALLIES AROUND TEEN FIGHTING BRAIN CANCER
Mason Strong graduates after completing proton therapy treatment at Provision CARESMay marked an important graduation at our Knoxville center. Mason, a high school student from Cleveland, Tenn., rang the victory bell after completing proton therapy treatment for a rare form of brain cancer. It was incredible to see the support from the Chattanooga and Cleveland communities throughout Mason’s journey. His story was featured in the Cleveland Banner, on News Channel 9 and other radio stations and media outlets in the area.

In a post on the “Team Mason Strong” Facebook page, his mother said, “It is such a blessing that Provision Proton Radiation Therapy is in Knoxville. So thankful we get to do treatment so close to home.” To read more about Mason’s story and see why Provision is proud to be on #TeamMasonStrong, visit this blog post from May.


PROSTATE CANCER  101 LAUNCHES
As part of our community outreach efforts, Provision launched a free community information session called “Prostate Cancer 101: Understanding the Journey, Diagnosis, Treatment and Survival.” Ben Wilkinson, MD, FACRO, the Medical Director and Radiation Oncologist at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville, delivered presentations throughout the year about the latest developments in prostate cancer.

Community members who attended had the opportunity to visit our Knoxville center and learn about the most advanced diagnostic tools and current trends in treatment, including multiparametric MRI, genomic classification, when to use active surveillance and how to preserve quality of life after a prostate diagnosis.


NASHVILLE CELEBRATES 100TH PATIENT GRADUATION
Shortly after opening its second treatment room, Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville celebrated its 100th patient graduation. Patients, ambassadors and staff gathered to watch James ring the victory bell. It was certainly a momentous occasion for our Nashville center!

Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville 100th graduationProvision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville 100th graduationProvision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville 100th graduation


FROM EMPLOYEE TO PATIENT: CASEY’S STORY
Casey rings the victory bell after completing cancer treatment at Provision CARES Proton Therapy KnoxvilleAs a Care Coordinator at our Knoxville center, Casey spends her day at work talking with patients and answering their questions. However, she now has the unique perspective of being on the other side of those calls, as well.

Late in 2018, she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in her life. After finishing her breast cancer treatment at Provision’s Knoxville Center earlier this year, Casey decided she wanted to share her story to help others navigate their cancer journey.

Being both a former patient and a Care Coordinator allowed Casey to write a blog series to help guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Her story was also featured on WBIR’s Buddy Check 10 earlier this year.  To read more about Casey’s story, visit these blog posts:

Surviving Breast Cancer (Part 1) – Learning she has cancer for a second time
Surviving Breast Cancer (Part 2) – Preparing for treatment
Surviving Breast Cancer (Part 3)  – Starting treatment
Surviving Breast Cancer (Part 4) – Ringing the bell


A MONTH OF ‘FIRSTS’ FOR NASHVILLE
With the 360-degree gantry up and running, things really began to pick up at our Nashville center this summer, making July a month of milestones for the center. They treated their first breast cancer patient on July 9, followed by the first treatments of esophageal, lung and central nervous system cancer.


Eddie Check 2019 helped hundreds of men take steps toward early detection of prostate cancerEDDIE CHECK BREAKS RECORD
Each year during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Provision partners with Nisus Corporation and Medic Regional Blood Center for Eddie Check, a two-day event offering free PSA screenings. In 2019, Eddie Check broke a record with 1,420 screenings. That’s more than 300 more than last year, and 140 more than the previous record!

In addition to the screenings, Medic received 845 blood donations over the two-day period, which is more than double their daily average. It was an amazing turn out and we’re proud to be a part of an effort in which more than 1,400 men took the potentially life-saving steps for early detection of prostate cancer.


PROVISION CARES PROTON THERAPY KANSAS CITY ANNOUNCED
In September, we announced another expansion to the Provision CARES Cancer Network with plans to develop a proton therapy center in Kansas City. Located in the Lenexa community, Provision CARES Proton Therapy Kansas City will serve patients in the surrounding region with advanced cancer care. Like Nashville, the Kansas City center will also use the ProNova SC360 Proton Therapy System to provide the most innovative treatment available.


ASTRO CONFERENCE
Our commitment to being leaders in the proton therapy field continued in September, as a group of Provision representatives traveled to Chicago for the 2019 American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Annual Meeting. By participating in conferences like this, Provision is able to keep up with rapidly evolving technologies and methodologies of radiation therapy. The ASTRO meeting is also a great opportunity for global collaboration as we work to make proton therapy more accessible around the world.


NASHVILLE CELEBRATES 1ST ANNIVERSARY
Staff members at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville celebrate the center's 1st anniversaryOctober marked one year since Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville  treated its very first patient. Employees from our Nashville center gathered to celebrate the 1st anniversary and give thanks for the team members, patients and families who helped make the first year a very fulfilling one. It was a journey founded on establishing new standards of excellence, curating Provision’s Culture of CARE and serving middle Tennesseans with the most advanced cancer care in the world.


AMBASSADORS REUNITE FOR HOMECOMING
One of the most exciting “firsts” of the year came in November, when dozens of Provision Ambassadors reunited at our first-ever Ambassador Homecoming. Provision graduates from eight different states joined us for a weekend that included a Homecoming Dinner Program, tours of our Knoxville center and ProNova Solutions, and plenty of free time to catch up with friends and staff members.

2019 Provision Ambassador Homecoming Dinner ProgramProvision Ambassadors stand by the victory bell at Provision CARES Proton TherapyProvision Ambassadors take a tour of Provision CARES Proton Therapy KnoxvilleProvision Ambassadors take a tour of ProNova Solutions


DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONE FOR PROVISION CARES PROTON THERAPY ORLANDO
A crucial delivery was made in November, as Provision CARES Proton Therapy Orlando announced the arrival of its cyclotron. One of the key components to the proton therapy system, the cyclotron generates the protons that are used to destroy cancer cells. Upon delivery, the Provision team began the rigging and installation of the cyclotron into the new proton therapy center building.

The cyclotron arrives at Provision CARES Proton Therapy OrlandoThe cyclotron is installed at Provision CARES Proton Therapy OrlandoThe cyclotron is installed at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Orlando

This was a milestone event as we work to expand the Provision CARES Cancer Network and bring the latest advancement in proton therapy systems to central Florida.


DR. GRAY DELIVERS KEYNOTE SPEECH AT LUNG FORCE EXPO
Dr. Gray speaks at the 2019 Lung Force Expo in NashvilleWe were honored to have the American Lung Association invite Dr. James Gray, Medical Director at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville, to be the keynote speaker at this year’s LUNG FORCE Expo.

This annual event takes place during Lung Cancer Awareness Month. It was a great opportunity for Provision to help spread awareness of the latest trends, resources and research about radiation therapy for lung cancer.


As we reflect on the past year and remember all of these key moments, Provision is very excited to think about what lies ahead in 2020.

• Milestone events such as Knoxville’s 5th anniversary, Nashville’s 100th graduation and Orlando’s cyclotron installation
• Inspiring moments like #TeamMasonStrong and Casey’s story
• Community outreach initiatives like Eddie Check and Prostate Cancer 101

We are confident these accomplishments, combined with our commitment to being innovative leaders in proton therapy and serving patients through our Culture of CARE, will help propel Provision into a brand new decade.

Casey rings the victory bell after completing cancer treatment at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville

Surviving Breast Cancer (Part 4)

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Casey’s Story: Ringing the Bell

Casey is a two-time breast cancer survivor who is sharing her experience during her proton therapy treatments at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville. Catch up on her story first by reading parts one, two and three of her blog series.


There is something about ringing that bell at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center.

After my final radiation therapy treatment, my friends, family and co-workers gathered around me  as I rang the bell three times, symbolizing an end to treatment and a new beginning to a cancer-free life.

Victory.  Celebration.  Gratefulness.

It takes time to actually realize that the most difficult journey in my life is really going to be over soon and it will be time to be well again.  I remember my brother Pete telling me at this exact time last year, “Winter never lasts forever and Spring never skips its turn.”  I thought about his words every single day.

Something very valuable I learned during my journey:  choose your providers very carefully.  Do your research in every way possible.  As a Care Coordinator, I would always tell a prospective patient that they owed it to themselves to learn about and evaluate several  treatment facilities before choosing where they would receive their care.  This thought process served me well during every step of my journey.

Without the care of Dr. Brig and his amazing staff at Brig Center for Cancer Care, my surgeon Dr. Danielle Duchini and the entire staff at Provision CARES Proton Therapy, I would not be where I am today.  I am well on my way to health and wellness and beating breast cancer.

I will be forever grateful to so many people and hope to pay it forward for as long as I can.


Provision CARES Proton Therapy would like to thank Casey for sharing her story. Please visit our website to learn more about the benefits of proton therapy for breast cancer and read other patient success stories.