Innovative Cancer Treatment in Knoxville, TN

Celebrating the Four-Year Anniversary of the Most Innovative Cancer Treatment in the World and Available in Knoxville, Tennessee!

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Many online blogs tell us the traditional 4th anniversary gift is flowers or fruit, but at Provision CARES Proton Therapy, we prefer cake! January 20th marks the 4th anniversary of operation for Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville (PCPTK) providing the most innovative cancer treatment in the world, proton therapy.

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Dowell Springs Campus

History of Dowell Springs

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The Lonas Family Legacy

“Many prayers were said over this land. That it would be used for something beneficial for our community and that it would be a blessing to all who visit…” Dowell Springs is a special place for many people in our community and visitors from near and far. Not only is the campus home to the Historic Lonas farmhouse, it is home to Provision CARES Proton Therapy. The beauty of the property and the magnificent views from the buildings bring a calm and healing atmosphere to all visit.  (more…)

Dale C. Prostate Cancer

Proton Stories: Why Dale Chose Proton Therapy

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Dale C. first heard about Provision CARES Proton Therapy through a TV commercial. Not knowing he had cancer, he tucked the words “proton therapy” in the back of his mind, hoping that he would never have to remember them. It was February 2015 when he learned he had prostate cancer. Dale had always been proactive when it came to his health. He said, “my mom always taught me to be proactive.” He went in for regular checkups, yearly physicals, and was well aware of his PSA and gleason score. At his appointment in 2015, all test scores came back normal, but he insisted on a biopsy, just to be sure. Both the doctor and Clayton were shocked, his biopsy came back positive. Dale was diagnosed with low risk, non-aggressive prostate cancer and decided on active surveillance.

Two and a half years later, things started to change. His PSA remained normal but his biopsy showed the cancer had doubled in size. “It’s a miracle we found it,” said Dale. “I believe God placed the right doctors, urologists, and friends around me to help me make an informed treatment decision.” He researched prostate cancer and treatment options, from surgery to brachytherapy to protons, and there were two things that were very significant to his treatment decision process: Cure Rate and Quality of Life.

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Provision Culture of Safety

Provision’s Culture of Safety

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At Provision CARES Proton Therapy, we are dedicated to providing a safe workplace for our employees and a safe treatment environment for our patients. Just this month, our Provision CARES Cancer Center team in Knoxville received the official Accreditation Certificate issued by ASTRO (“Accreditation Certificate”). To receive this accreditation, the team was required to focus on five pillars of patient care. One of the five pillars of patient care is safety. The team demonstrated and committed to the highest standards of safety through daily processes and procedures. To read more about the Accreditation process and this achievement see our previous blog here. (more…)

New proton therapy cancer center to open across from Williamson Medical Center

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A cancer treatment center specializing in proton therapy, an increasingly popular treatment, is set to open in the summer of 2018.

Provision Healthcare, a clinical provider and developer of cancer treatments, will open a Provision CARES Cancer Center on Carothers Parkway, across from Williamson Medical Center, said Dr. Terry Douglass, Ph.D., the executive chair of Provision.

Proton therapy, said Douglass, is a form of advanced radiation technology that impairs the DNA of cancer cells and causes them to die.

Unlike traditional radiation methods, a machine called a cyclotron is used to pinpoint cancer cells, targeting diseased cells while minimizing damage to surrounding tissue.

“It’s like using a rifle compared to a shotgun,” Douglass said of the therapy.

“We developed a new technology that is a lower cost, that uses smaller and lighter technology,” Douglass said of the 200-ton machine which is used to treat cancer.

In traditional chemotherapy or radiation techniques, side effects are common. But with proton therapy, Douglass said side effects are less pronounced; he also said numerous data support the use of proton therapy, including better long-term outcomes for patients.

The treatment is becoming more common for illnesses like prostate cancer, but studies show mixed results, not conclusively supporting the treatment as better than traditional radiation.

Proton therapy centers are popping up across the country. According to the National Association of Proton Therapy, there are currently 26 proton therapy centers in operation with 11 under construction or in development.

The Franklin location will be the company’s second center in Tennessee. The original campus opened in January of 2014 in Knoxville. Planned expansions in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida, are in the works, said Douglass.

Of the decision to be based in Franklin, Douglass said the surrounding health care centers and climate of technological innovation made it a good choice, noting Tennessee Oncology and Vanderbilt as two top-notch cancer treatment centers.

Douglass said the spot on Carothers Parkway, in a central location with easy access to the interstate, would make it easy for patients from Tennessee, as well as Kentucky and Alabama, to reach the center.

“These patients are here from four to eight weeks. They get five treatments Monday through Friday, then they have the weekend off,” he said. “We were looking for a site that would be amenable to the patients.”

“Being near the Williamson County Medical Center was very important to us as well,” he continued. “Franklin has just become a hub of healthcare services.”

In addition to the center, the company will build 72,000 square feet of office space, which Douglass said will house medical companies including Tennessee Oncology and drug discovery and trials for the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center.

Mary Lou DuBois, the president of Provision Health Partners, said the location will open some time this summer, and will hire 75 to 80 employees to staff the center.

“We’re about developing a culture of care that is totally focused on the patient and walking through and with them as they’re on their journey,” she said of center’s mission.

In 2005, Provision Healthcare was founded by Douglass in Knoxville. The organization operates as a for-profit healthcare solutions company, while both the Knoxville and Franklin cancer centers are non-profits.

“New proton therapy cancer center to open across from Williamson Medical Center.” Brooke Wanser, Brentwood HomePage

It’s like NASA landed in Franklin: Proton-therapy center nears completion

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After nearly two years of construction, Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville is nearing completion of its $100 million cancer-treatment center — minus some areas of the roof.

That’s because crews still need to lower a 28-foot-diameter gantry — a structure about the size of an above-ground pool that rotates around a patient during therapy, allowing treatment from different angles —into place at the 45,000-square-foot facility.

PHOTO BY JOEL STINNETT

It will be the second center for Knoxville-based Provision CARES, which provides proton-radiation treatment for cancer patients. The Franklin campus will also include a 72,000-square-foot medical office building at the cost of $18 million. Both buildings are being funded by tax-exempt bonds issued by the Williamson County Industrial Development Board and are expected to be completed in the summer of 2018.

The gantry, however, is relatively light lifting over at the 11-acre site. In July, a 220-ton particle accelerator, almost the same weight as the Statue of Liberty, was delivered to the facility. Rod Manning, service and maintenance manager at Provision CARES subsidiary ProNova Solutions, said the massive piece of equipment, called a cyclotron, was lowered into place by a 440-ton crane, the largest in Tennessee.

“It’s like NASA landed in Franklin,” Manning said.

Proton therapy delivers a high dose of radiation through a beam and, according to Provision CARES Director of Medical Physics Marc Blakey, has fewer side effects than traditional X-ray radiation.

Blakey said he can plot exactly where cancer is in the body and attack it while sparing surrounding tissue.

“The beam enters and only goes as deep as the tumor. It doesn’t exit the body,” Blakey said. “This allows for a higher dose because we can avoid critical structures.”

The cyclotron acts as the engine in the process, producing beams of protons into one of three gantries enclosed with two-meter thick doors made of lead-reinforced concrete. Most treatments only last a few minutes; Blakey said the center could facilitate up to 90 patients a day.

The two-story building will also house work areas for Gilda’s Club of Tennessee and Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation. Hamilton is on the board at Provision CARES and will have an office at the center.

Tara Mullaney, vice president at Provision CARES, said the inside of the building is designed to feel like a hotel more than a medical facility. Each dressing room will be outfitted with TVs and will have their own themes. The waiting room will a kids play area and a large bell to be rung every time a patient completes the entirety of their treatment.

“Cancer patients are going through enough so we want to make them as comfortable as possible,” Mullaney said. “They are coming here every day so they get to know the staff and feel welcomed.”

Mullaney said that while proton treatment isn’t new — the first center opened in the 1990s — it’s still not widely known. She said that’s because the initial investment for equipment is so high and not all insurance plans cover the therapy, where treatment costs about $2,000 per visit.

The word, however, is spreading, Mullaney said. The Franklin facility will be the 26th proton-treatment center in the nation, up from 13 five years ago, and Provision CARES has plans to build three more centers, she said. Those will be in Orlando, New Orleans and China.

Mullaney said ProNova, a Provision subsidiary, is also designing ways to decrease the size of equipment, therefore making it less expensive to access proton treatment.

“We are always thinking of ways to get better,” Mullaney said. “Franklin costs considerably less than the center in Knoxville because of the reduction in size of equipment and smaller footprint.”

“It’s like NASA landed in Franklin:’ Proton-therapy center nears completion.” Joel Stinnett, Nashville Business Journal

Dr. Oz spotlights need for insurance coverage

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CLICK HERE to watch the segment.

Nearly five years ago, 32-year-old Lindsay Rumberger was diagnosed with epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, a long name for a rare cancer that had originated in her liver and metastasized to her lungs. She underwent chemotherapy, but when a tumor close to her spine showed signs of growth, radiation was part of the recommended course. Because conventional radiation treatment threatened to cause peripheral damage to this most sensitive part of the body, her doctors recommended proton therapy instead. However, the insurance provider disagreed, calling the treatment “experimental” and refused coverage. (more…)

Employee snapshot: Hospitality coordinator is a cancer survivor herself

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There’s a reason hospitality coordinator Sharon Bishop is a favorite with Provision patients: She’s walked in their shoes.

In 2006, Bishop was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

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Sharon has had a bi-lateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and conventional radiation—a treatment regimen that lasted five years. The chemotherapy caused cancer to develop in her uterus, requiring a radical hysterectomy. And the radiation left scars on her heart, requiring long-term follow-ups with specialists.

“Honestly, I’m never done,” Bishop says.

She was 42, with two teenage sons. And as she fought for her life, two sisters also were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Through it all, however, she maintained a positive spirit—joking with her sister about applying mascara to three remaining eyelashes so she could flirt with an officer should she get pulled over—and channeling her experience into a story of support she shared with others. Bishop has been involved with cancer support groups and had lots of one-on-one connection with cancer patients as a mastectomy fitter at Thompson Cancer Survival Center, the University of Tennessee Medical Center and Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center. She also serves on the steering committee for the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” initiative and is a member of the Young Survivors Coalition.

Bishop discovered Provision when her friend, Talbott Paynter, came to work here and encouraged her to apply. Her job lets her to get to know patients, offering a sympathetic ear and her own experience with cancer.

“When I started working here, I spent more time in the lobby than behind the desk,” she says.

Graduating patients get hugs from Bishop. Many confide in her their struggles and even medical issues they’re experiencing through the treatment. Patients often mention her when listing the things they appreciate about the Provision Center for Proton Therapy.

Her daily motivation comes from a picture on her bedroom dresser. It’s a black and white photo, snapped by her older son as she, hairless and weak, prays with her younger son in the midst of her battle with breast cancer. The image keeps her focused on why she comesto work here.

“Everyone that walks through that door, they matter to me,” she says. “I know what they’re going through.”

Provision’s 400th patient not just a number

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James Fulghum’s completion of prostate cancer treatment today was a celebration not only for him but for Provision Center for Proton Therapy as well—the graduation of its 400th patient.

A surprised grin crossed Fulghum’s face as he was presented him with a special certificate before he rang the graduation bell.

The event marks a “huge milestone” for Provision. The center opened last January and celebrated its 100th patient graduation just eight months ago. Since then, Provision Center for Proton Therapy has opened a third treatment room and seen its patient numbers increase significantly in 2015.

Fulghum, who came for treatment for aggressive prostate cancer from his home in Lebanon, Tenn., learned of proton therapy through his nephew. Founder and principal at civil engineering firm, Fulghum, MacIndoe & Associates, Billy Fulghum worked with Provision in its early days as the company made site design plans for the new treatment facility.

When his uncle was diagnosed with cancer, Billy Fulghum approached him about considering proton therapy as a treatment option.

“The first thing he said was, ‘I’m not going to the Bahamas to do some experimental thing,’” Billy Fulghum said.

But after perusing the Provision website and meeting with Dr. Marcio Fagundes and staff at Provision, James Fulghum was sold.

“(Dr. Fagundes has) been in this business for many years. He’s seen a lot of things,” Fulghum said. “He laid it out in simple terms that I could understand.”

At the end of eight weeks in Knoxville golfing, visiting the mountains, making friends with other patients—two of whom attended his graduation—and experiencing the hospitality and warmth of the Provision employees—from radiation therapists to hospitality coordinators to financial services manager Rhonda Turner—James Fulghum said he’s sad to go.

“I feel like when I walked through the front door this was heaven and these people were angels,” he said. “Even though I’m number 400, I’m not a number in this place.”

 

Provision employee’s invention makes headlines, benefits patients

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When radiaton therapist Zach Dutton got tired of cobbling together boxes and construction foam from Lowe’s to assist in making the cradle that holds patients immobile during their proton therapy treatments, he decided to solve the problem himself. With the help of his dad, Greg Dutton, he came up with the Z-box, an innovative frame that holds patients in place while their foam cradles are being poured and solidified around them.

The invention has garnered Dutton local headlines in the Knoxville News Sentinel and Loudon County News-Herald (the Duttons are from Lenoir City) as well as a byline in the Spring issue of the medical journal Radiation Therapist. First prototyping the box in plywood, the father-and-son team then crafted a plastic version of the Z-box that patients now regularly use.

The adjustable frame accommodates patients of varying flexibility—they must hold their arms above their heads during the process—and makes it possible for one technician to carry out the process. Prior to the Z-box, at least two people were needed to help hold the patient in place. As a result, what was once a one-and-a-half to two hour process in making the patient cradles, has been whittled down to 30-45 minutes.

While the device works well for proton therapy patients, it also could be used for conventional radiation therapy in cases where the patient needs to be kept still during treatment.

What motivated Dutton to take on the project? “I’ve always thought we could make things better,” he says.