Midland County Patient Hunts for His Best Treatment Option to Fight Prostate Cancer

In July 2019, John Miller received four options from his urologist, including surgery.

"I didn't want to be cut open," explained Miller.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Like many others, it is a diagnosis he least expected. As an army veteran, and a hunting and fishing enthusiast, it is in Miller's DNA to hit his target. That was exactly what he had in mind when searching online for the best prostate cancer treatment option "“ Miller wanted to target his cancer as precisely and as aggressively as possible.

After reading about proton therapy treatment and how the advanced technology at McLaren allows targeted radiation delivery with precision, Miller made a phone call. That call led to his drive from Hope in Midland County to Flint in Genesee County, where he was able to sit down with Hesham Gayar, MD, Medical Director of the McLaren Proton Therapy Center, and Nicole Cygnar, RT(R)(T), the proton patient navigator. From this consultation, Dr. Gayar determined that Miller's prostate cancer would effectively be fought with protons.

"Proton therapy is an excellent choice for prostate cancer," explained Dr. Gayar. "It doesn't have the high risk of surgical complication from a prostatectomy, like the impotence and loss of urine control, and it has the same cure rate as surgery. It also delivers 70% less radiation to healthy organs than conventional radiation. Proton therapy simply provides better quality of life after treatment."

So, the 70-year old Vietnam veteran began his proton therapy treatments in mid-November.

"I've been to war. If I ever had to go to war again, I'd take them all with me," said Miller as he explained his experience with the staff at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center. "Anything I'd ask the patient navigator, she'd help me."

Miller even stayed at the Hospitality House at McLaren for a couple of weeks when he started his treatment. The Hospitality House is located right next door to the McLaren Proton Therapy Center and serves as a home-away-from-home for patients and their families who travel long distances for care. Miller said the service there was just as welcoming and comforting as the service he received during treatment.

As far as his proton therapy treatments, Miller said they were simple and painless.

"There was no pain. I just had to be still during treatment," he explained. "I was up and out of there in 20 to 30 minutes."

Compared to traditional radiation therapy treatments, which delivers radiation doses through the targeted tumor and exits on the other side of the patient's body, proton therapy offers a precise way to target and stop radiation treatment at the depth of the tumor. This means nearby healthy organs and tissue are spared unnecessary radiation. By avoiding these areas, research has shown that patients experience less side effects than they would if they had undergone traditional radiation treatments.

In Miller's case, he said he did not have side effects that held him back from his every day, normal activities. He had his one-month checkup in February and says things are looking good.

John Miller, prostate cancer patient, rang the victory bell after he finished his last proton therapy treatment in February.

"I've already told people, if anything ever happens to you, go down there and check them out," he explained. "There's a lot of research on [proton therapy]. I've heard nothing but good things about it on the internet and from the people I talk to."

For more information about the McLaren Proton Therapy Center, visit mclaren.org/protontherapy. Speak to the proton patient navigator today to find out if proton therapy is the right treatment for you by calling (855) MY-PROTON (855-697-7686).