Cancer is No Match for Wife's Persistence

Author: Leslie Toldo

When John Deitering’s annual prostate specific antigen (PSA) came back elevated, his long-time family doctor referred him to a urologist to get his prostate checked out.

“My wife told me I was not traveling for work until I got it checked. I was stubborn,” John said.

John’s wife was right to put her foot down.  A biopsy revealed John had not one, but two forms of prostate cancer, and one of them was aggressive.  While watchful waiting is often an option for prostate cancer patients because John had an aggressive form, his doctor wanted to do something about it before it spread. 

“Once you understand or realize you have something like that, you want it gone,” John said.

So, John made up his mind.  He was fully prepared to have a prostatectomy- to remove all or part of his prostate gland.

“When I went to see a surgeon, because of past health issues and surgeries, the surgeon wouldn’t do it.  He said I needed radiation,” John said.

John researched the various forms of radiation, hoping to learn about the benefits, risks, and side effects of each one.  His doctor referred him to Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint Radiation Oncologist Dr. Hesham Gayar.

“Dr. Gayar is an amazing man.  He made me feel really comfortable. We talked about clinical studies. My wife went to the appointment with me, and he didn’t just talk to me, he talked to us. That’s everything.  He broke it down into layman’s terms, we both walked out understanding the treatment,” John said. “After that conversation, it became obvious to me that proton therapy was the way to go.”

Proton therapy is a targeted form of radiation, that comes with less risk of damage to healthy tissue and organs than traditional photon radiation therapy.

“We can direct the protons to the tumor with greater precision, down to the exact size and shape of the target,” Dr. Gayar said. “After the radiation reaches the tumor, it stops, rather than exposing healthy tissue to radiation as it exits the body, the way conventional radiation with photon therapy does.”

John went in for treatment five days a week for six weeks with the team at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center.

“The care doesn’t get any better. They were a very dedicated group. They made me feel like I mattered. They had compassion for me,” John said. “There is no doubt in my mind, if I get cancer again, I know where I am going and how I am going to get treated.”

John’s side effects, including a little tenderness at the radiation site, were minimal.

“They were minor. I had a little ache in my hips from where the beam went in, but nothing that would stop me. No sickness, no illness,” John said. “The worst symptom I had was mild fatigue. I had to rest a lot. Beyond that, I worked from home during treatment. Had I known all this, I wouldn’t have even considered surgery in the first place.”

Today, John is a survivor, thanks in large part to the routine screenings he made sure he got at his family doctor every year.

“We know that when we can catch cancer at its early stage, the patient has the best odds of survival- which is always our goal,” said Dr. Gayar. “What proton therapy does is it allows us to provide excellent care while maintaining a good quality of life for our patients during and after treatment. “

“Cancer is still cancer, but the technology has come so far, cancer does not have to be the end,” John said. “Attitude is also a big part of this. You can focus on going forward or not.”

To learn more about proton therapy and to schedule a consultation to find out if you are a candidate, visit