Their Treatments, Their Experiences

The HUPTI treatment experience is as unique as our patients. Read their stories to learn more.*

Al Kruschwitz

Albert Kruschwitz

Prostate Cancer Survivor, HUPTI graduation — July, 2012
Budget Analyst (Ret.)

When I first visited the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI), I was extremely impressed by the potential of proton therapy and by the professionalism and concern of each staff member. Everything was explained to my complete satisfaction.

During the treatment, there were no surprises. I was able to continue my day-to-day activities (golf, running, etc.) with no discomfort. Most importantly, the personal engagement and concern of the staff members was fantastic throughout the entire process. It was like having an extended family!

I completed the therapy in July 2012. My PSA has declined significantly and all signs point to a full recovery from prostate cancer. My sincere thanks to all the dedicated staff members and state-of-the-art Proton therapy at the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute!

Pamela Coley

Pamela Coley

Hemangioma on T3, HUPTI graduation — March, 2012
Stay-at-Home Mom

I had an unusual circumstance that led to Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute. I had some pain that began in the upper midsection of my back. It was very excruciating and hindered me from my work and everyday activities with my family. After many, many tests were run, it was discovered that I had a hemangioma on the T-3 spine. Normally, these types of benign vascular tumors are not bothersome, but for some reason, this one was causing me terrible pain. I was unable to move for several days at a time. I was missing a lot of work. I was taking a lot of pain meds, and I just needed something else to be done.

My regular doctor gave me a cortisone shot that did not help at all. I was given oral steroidal medications and nothing was helping with this pain. Finally, I was referred to Dr. Christopher Sinesi, who first told me about proton radiation therapy. After going over the procedure and discussing the possible risks, I decided that this was something I need to try. Nothing else had seemed to work at that point.

It’s been a year now and I feel like a new person. I’m told that the hemangioma is still there, but I’m not having any of the pain that I once had. There is some, but only if I do something extreme, which would never have been a thought prior to treatment. I thank God for the opportunity of coming to HUPTI. I feel as though it gave me my life back.

Harry Fotiou

Harry Fotiou

Prostate Cancer Survivor, HUPTI graduation — January, 2011
Cabinet Maker (Ret.)

Never having been ill before, I was extremely apprehensive about my diagnosis and treatment. However, the first time I entered the Proton Center, I was immediately put at ease. The doctors and staff were thorough in explaining the procedure in depth. They were absolutely right about not having any side effects and I was able to continue my life as usual and with no restrictions. The only evidence was the very slight tanning of each side of my hips.

Everyone at the center from the doctors, technicians, office and maintenance and everyone was pleasant and professional. They made each day of treatment go quickly. The environment at HUPTI is exceptional! The doctors, technicians and people in every department are all very caring.

John Lindberg

John Lindberg

Prostate Cancer Survivor, HUPTI graduation — May, 2012
Musician (Ret.)

In the late spring of 2011, after my annual physical, it was discovered that my PSA numbers had risen above the 4.0 level. As I was planning to retire from the Virginia Symphony in a year or two my personal care physician, Dr. Werner Martens, referred me to Urology of Virginia instead of playing the wait and see game.

I was assigned to Dr. James Young and a biopsy was taken. This test was negative but Dr. Young, being ever diligent, decided to take a second biopsy and this time cancer was found. I was scheduled for a CAT scan and MRI. With the results of the CAT scan in hand Dr. Young felt that my best course of treatment would be proton therapy. (I now feel that proton is the best option for every cancer patient.)

Medicare and supplemental insurance covered the cost of treatment. I started the 43-day treatment in March 2012. The first day was a dry run so I had an idea of what to expect in the treatment theater. From then on, it was like clockwork.

I must add a very important point. When you see a doctor expect to find a person of extremely high intelligence. At HUPTI everyone falls into that category. I was forever amazed at the depth of knowledge possessed by the technical staff, nurses and administration, not just in medicine, but in life. And yes, there was room for a sense of humor. Mine can be a bit abstract, but the technicians put up with me and even laughed on occasion. Because of this there was always a sense of security as I traveled down a road none of us really wish to travel.

I cannot possibly express my gratitude to the doctors and staff of HUPTI. From the very first day of treatment to the last there was total professionalism from everyone. But above and beyond that, there was a feeling of true concern and an atmosphere of “we are here to help.

Donald Sherard

Donald Sherard

Prostate Cancer Survivor

When I first found out that I had prostate cancer, my wife broke down and cried. She thought it was the end of the world. I told her everything was going to be ok. We asked my doctor about the best option for me and he recommended surgery. My wife wasn’t totally satisfied, so she began to research other options and discovered proton therapy. After speaking with the doctors at the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, we were both convinced that proton therapy was the right choice for me. I was amazed that I didn’t have any side effects during the process. My insurance covered the treatment. I didn’t have any out-of-pocket expenses. Proton therapy helped me maintain my active lifestyle and actually brought my wife and I closer together. It’s a great day to be alive!

Deborah Owens

Deborah Owens

Brain Tumor Survivor,
Mother of Three

When I first received the brain tumor diagnosis, it was such a scary thing to hear. The tumor was near my optic nerve, and with conventional radiation, there was a possibility of blindness. I am a busy mother of three girls. I wanted to be able to see my daughters grow up. I wanted to be able to witness all their milestones. I researched proton therapy and when I saw the experience and expertise of the physicians and staff at the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, I began to feel at ease. My husband didn’t have to take off work to drive me to my treatments. I could drive myself. The only side effect I experienced was minor fatigue. I was able to maintain my busy schedule as a mother. My family didn’t see any changes. Isn’t that amazing? Proton therapy gave me normalcy and saved my eyesight.

Charles Smith

Charles Smith

Prostate Cancer Survivor

My experience with HUPTI was one of confidence building in a very caring and comfortable environment during a scary time in my life. All persons were confident, energetic and friendly during and after treatment — they were really something. The staff was very supportive and informative throughout my treatment experience. I can definitely recommend HUPTI for the treatment of cancer. Proton therapy allowed me to continue with my daily activities.

David Lum

David Lum

Prostate Cancer Survivor, HUPTI graduation — April 11, 2011
Business Development (Ret.)

After five years of a slowly increasing PSA and a number of biopsies, I was notified on September 16, 2010 that cancerous cells were detected. I had read and conducted a lot of research on the Internet — just in case I was ever detected as positive. I immediately called HUPTI, met with Sarita [director of HUPTI public relations] and received information of the facility, as well as a guided tour. I was impressed with the facility and what it offered. I was pretty sure that this would be the treatment for me. Then I read Bob Marckini’s book, “You Can Beat Prostate Cancer,” which led me to my final decision.

My first treatment began on February 7, 2011. All of the people that treated me, beginning with Marybeth Sullivan-Dickey, Mike Freeman and assistants Aaron, Nikita and Crystal, were all very knowledgeable, professional, caring and friendly. Doctors Sinesi and Thornton were very impressive. Even though the facility was new and had just begun to treat patients, the doctors and staff had a lot of experience. I felt this was the A-Team attending to my care.

I went to work every day during my treatment with no side effects. I am so happy I met these great people at the HUPTI.

Carmen Guard

Carmen Guard

Prostate Cancer Survivor, HUPTI Graduation — August 18, 2011
Ship Superintendent

My main concerns for treating my prostate cancer were the side effects from the treatment. After my consultation with Dr. Sinesi and visiting HUPTI, there was never any doubt about my method of treatment. It was going to be proton therapy. However, there was an added benefit I had not fully realized until after my treatment started. The professionalism and state of the art technology were obvious, but I have never experienced more genuine compassion and caring for me as a person than I received at HUPTI. To this day, I have never had any side effects. When I return for checkups, I feel I am visiting friends.

Brannon Thomas

Brannon Thomas

Glioma Brain Cancer Survivor
Story submitted by his mother, Gail Thomas

I conducted research and found that proton therapy was the standard of care for pediatrics. After reading about this, I knew that proton therapy was what I wanted to do for my son. With only eight facilities in the country [at the time], I felt blessed to have a center in Hampton Roads. Once I met Dr. Thornton, it was a no brainer. The selling point was the amount of experience of the staff. I visited other top radiation oncology facilities and met with tons of neurologists, but Dr. Thornton was by far the most knowledgeable and the most compassionate. We think highly of the entire staff.

HUPTI is one of the finest facilities in the country. I watched this building being built and knew in my heart it was where my son would be treated. There is none better. HUPTI is the best. After two years of my son being treated, Dr. Thornton’s compassion for and dedication to my son remains.

Jenica Harrison

Jenica Harrison

Oral Cancer Survivor, HUPTI Graduation — April 24, 2013
Research Scientist

Being diagnosed with cancer is a frightening and life-changing event. After being diagnosed with a form of oral cancer called intermediate grade mucoepidermoid carcinoma, I was first faced with having surgery to remove the tumor from my hard palate. My next challenge was to choose whether to undergo intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) or proton radiation therapy. I did research on both radiation technologies. I consulted with a radiation oncologist that specialized in IMRT before visiting HUPTI. My visits were very different.

At the IMRT center, I felt like I was just another patient to them, not a unique individual. However, I felt welcomed and cared for from the moment I first stepped into HUPTI. Everyone at HUPTI goes the extra mile to make patients and their family and friends feel welcomed and at ease about the radiation process. After my initial consultation, I decided to move forward with proton therapy at HUPTI because of:

1. The fact that long term side effects are less likely with proton therapy
2. The expertise, thoroughness, and friendliness of my radiation oncologist at HUPTI
3. The sincere benevolence of all the staff members at HUPTI

I will be forever grateful to HUPTI.

Thomas Rankin

Thomas Rankin

Prostate Cancer Survivor, HUPTI graduation — March, 2013

I was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer in September 2012. My urologist immediately went on vacation and suggested that I research my options during his absence. After consulting with many medical professionals from around the country, I came to an early conclusion that proton radiation treatment, in combination with hormone treatment, would provide me with the best chance of curing the cancer, as well as the best chance of minimizing the side effects in the future. To make a long story short, my urologist wanted to remove my prostate, but I had already concluded, for many reasons that doing so would have been a mistake due to the aggressiveness of my cancer.

We in Virginia are extremely fortunate to have one of only a dozen or so proton radiation centers in the country. I was told by one person, a pioneer in proton radiation therapy, that the staff at HUPTI is “top shelf.” During my treatment the medical staff was always accessible and the radiation therapists were very professional. I concluded my treatments on March 12, 2013. Side effects have been minimal and my energy level is improving every day.

If you would like to learn more about the proton therapy experience at HUPTI, we’d be happy to connect you with one of our graduates who have volunteered to share their experiences and answer any of your questions.

*Treatment options and outcomes may vary on a case-by-case basis. Most patients experience few side effects from proton radiation. Minor side effects such as fatigue or localized hair loss or skin irritation may occur in some cases. More serious complications are possible, though rare, depending on tumor location and other factors. Many insurance providers cover proton therapy, and financial assistance may be available for those without insurance. Each patient’s experience of cancer and proton therapy treatment may be different. Talk with a doctor about whether proton therapy is right for your cancer.