How Proton Therapy Helped Three-Time Cancer Patient 'Keep Pushing'

Author: Leslie Toldo

When frequent urination started to interrupt his life, James Lintz made a trip to his urologist.

“The doctor gave me a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test,” James said. “My PSA had gone up and the doctor wanted to know if anyone had ever talked to me about prostate cancer.”

A biopsy revealed James had an aggressive form of prostate cancer. The oncologist presented an array of treatment options, including surgery to remove the prostate (prostatectomy) and radiation. Ultimately, it was up to James to decide which treatment path he wanted to take.

“I read about all of the options, and I didn’t like any of them,” James said. “It seemed like I was going to lose something no matter what I chose.”

Among the more challenging side effects that can come with both surgery and radiation are impotence and incontinence. Not sure which course to take, James talked with his family doctor, who brought up an option he had not heard of yet.

“My doctor suggested I go see Dr. Omar Gayar at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center in Flint,” James said. “He told me it was a precise treatment with less risk for side effects.” 

Dr. Gayar, one of five radiation oncologists at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center, part of the Karmanos Cancer Network, sat down with James and explained how it works.

“Protons deliver higher doses of radiation in a more targeted way than the X-rays used in traditional radiation treatments,” Dr. Gayar said. “Protons stop at the tumor, unlike X-rays, which exit the body, exposing healthy tissue and organs to unnecessary radiation. “

“Dr. Gayar explained everything about how proton works. At the end, when he was done, he handed me a brochure and told me I would be a good candidate. I told him to sign me up,” James said.

It was more than the technology that left an impression after that initial visit with Dr. Gayar.

“I thought Dr. Gayar was genuinely concerned. You can tell he cares about his patients. He was very confident in what he could do to help me,” James said.

After eight weeks of treatment, five days a week, James was convinced he made the right choice.

“I went to work every day after treatment,” James said. “I didn’t get sick or suffer discomfort.  The only after-effects I’ve had are the three little green tattoos I had to get before treatments started.”

James, a veteran, had survived different types of cancer twice previously.  Each battle was tough, but he believes his attitude is what helped him through.

“I took it head-on. Every time I had cancer, I took it head-on.  I didn’t give up,” James said. “You have to go forward. You’ve got to keep pushing.  I fought against what I didn’t want to do.”

To learn more about the McLaren Proton Therapy Center, and to find out if you are a candidate, visit