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I finished 44 proton radiation treatments last Friday, April 15. The treatments were for prostate cancer — the diagnosis was in November of last year.

“Proton” treatment differs from standard X-ray (gamma-ray) therapy in that the precise beam is delivered by a cyclotron spinning stuff at half the speed of light. Think of the beam as delivering a packet of energy to the affected area, with minimal damage to surrounding tissue. Also, the beam does not go through the target — it delivers the energy there and then stops. There are magnets, a pole and hydrogen gas; then, magically, protons.

The whole enchilada costs about $160 million, give or take. There are 10 operational machines in the United States. More are being built, including one or two at Mayo Clinics.

As to treatment, apertures and compensators are made for each patient, and the focus is aligned by lasers. I even have tattoos on each side, so the lasers can do their work. (No, the tattoos don’t say, “Buy Berkshire Hathaway” or “I love you, Maudie Sue!”)

I have no idea why there is a proton unit in Oklahoma City, especially given Oklahoma’s relatively small population. Soon, there will be two in Oklahoma City, which will, I think, make Oklahoma the only state that has two and Oklahoma City the only city … well, you get the idea.

There a number of options for prostate cancer. I studied them for more than two months, and — after nine weeks of living and being treated in Oklahoma City — I’m delighted with my choice. The treatment was, in a way, a great adventure, and I’m now the No. 1 fan of proton radiation therapy.

Have a great week and be optimistic.

For more blogs from Richard Hoe, click here.


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