No Detection of Cancer for Lapeer County Man Treated with Proton Therapy

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No Detection of Cancer for Lapeer County Man Treated with Proton Therapy after Lung Cancer Strikes Three Times in Six Years

Some people know the feeling of being diagnosed with cancer once, some twice, and others even three times. Within two decades, Stephen Bonesteel says he has received a cancer diagnosis seven times, three of those diagnoses were in his right lung.

Over that time span, cancer treatments continued to advance, and the McLaren Proton Therapy Center, part of the Karmanos Cancer Network, opened in Genesee County. The new proton center is about 20 miles away from Stephen’s home. His treatment options expanded and offered him the best opportunity for a better quality of life.

“The first time I was diagnosed with lung cancer was in 2014,” said Stephen. “I had a pulmonary lobectomy [surgical removal of a section of the lung], then radiation.”

Stephen says when he received the first lung cancer diagnosis, he quit smoking that day. Had his wife not called the ambulance one night when he was having chest pain, he would not have had the tests in the emergency room that alerted doctors to continue investigating what was happening in his lung.

In 2015, he received another diagnosis of cancer in his right lung, this time in the chest wall. He was treated with (stereotactic body radiation therapy) SBRT by Hesham Gayar, MD, radiation oncologist.

Toward the end of 2019, Stephen’s cancer returned to the upper right portion of his lung. This is when Dr. Gayar, who is also the medical director of the McLaren Proton Therapy Center in Flint, suggested proton therapy treatments.

“This was the third occurrence of lung cancer for Mr. Bonesteel,” explained Dr. Gayar. “He had already received surgery and radiation treatment twice to the right upper lobe, the bed of the initial cancer. The cancer still recurred in the same area. Due to proton therapy, reducing the radiation to the surrounding structures, I was able to give a curative dose safely and without side effects.”

Stephen began proton therapy treatments in February of 2020. After 30 rounds, he finished treatments in March.

“The treatment was extremely easy,” said Stephen. “I had no issues, whatsoever. I continued to do my everyday tasks, like yard work, without an issue. Proton therapy was not as damaging to the tissue around my lung as radiation was. I’m glad these treatments helped save my life.”

Months after completing treatment, Dr. Gayar says the outcome has been remarkable.

“We continue to monitor Mr. Bonesteel’s progress," said Dr. Gayar. "I am really happy with the results of the treatment. The latest PET/CT scan revealed complete response and resolution to the tumor."

Stephen has also battled three other kinds of cancer over the last two decades.

“In 2004, I had radiation for basal cell carcinoma on my nose, and I also had a radical prostatectomy [surgical removal of prostate gland and tissues] that same year,” explained Stephen.

He was also diagnosed and treated for basal cell carcinoma a second time in 2010, and in 2019, Stephen was diagnosed and treated for squamous cell carcinoma on his left arm.

Stephen describes himself as having more fortitude than most people. His attitude toward cancer is not of sorrow, but he has learned to keep his spirits lifted and continue living his life, often taking it one day at a time.

“Most people don’t know I’ve had cancer,” explained Stephen. “I don’t want to bow down to it.”

"Mr. Bonesteel is a special patient. He has always had a positive attitude and is a fighter. I am glad we were able to help him," said Dr. Gayar.

When it comes to smoking, Stephen had these words to say:

“Think about what smoking can do to the people around you,” said Stephen. “They suffer, probably more than you at times. It’s hard to quit, but you should quit smoking.”

For resources to help you quit smoking, visit, or call 1-844-LUNG SCREEN (1-844-586-4727).

If you are diagnosed with cancer and would like a second opinion, contact the McLaren Proton Therapy Center’s patient navigator to learn if proton therapy is right for you. Call (855) MY-PROTON (855-697-7686), or visit