Nicholson all smiles since being cancer-free

Joe and Pat Nicholson say ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City restored Joe's health and introduced them to new friends.

Edmond’s Joe Nicholson and his wife Pat are grateful for the care he received at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City. They also made many friendships during his journey to becoming cancer-free.

“It’s just the greatest place I have been,” said Joe, 79.

Joe and his urologist watched as his prostate-specific antigen (PSA ) increased following a prostate examination three years ago. A biopsy revealed he was in the first stage prostate cancer, meaning it had not spread beyond the gland.

Joe educated himself about all the treatment options available and decided on proton therapy after consulting with two friends who had it.

ProCure gave him 44 rounds of treatment beginning in April 13, 2013. He would go every day with Saturdays and Sundays off.

“Proton therapy is a type of radiation that can more precisely target the tumor, sparing healthy organs from unnecessary radiation exposure and reducing the risk of short and long-term side effects,” said Dr. Gary Larson, ProCure radiation oncologist. “For prostate cancer, less radiation to surrounding tissues means a low risk of gastrointestinal damage, scarring of the bladder, and the development of radiation-induced cancers.”

Prostate cancer is more easily treated when caught early, Larson said. Education about early screening is vital for men when considering the best treatment options available for their case, he said.

Joe said if someone has cancer in their body they need to get rid of it regardless of their age. It does not make sense, Joe said, not to have prostate cancer treated after a certain age because some physicians say the cancer is a slow-moving process and something else will end their elderly patients’ lives before the cancer spreads.

The therapy process was comfortable and expedient, Joe said. Gold markers were placed on his prostate for a precise aiming of the proton beam, and the beam travels at one-third the speed of light, he added.

“What they do at the end of the process is you graduate. You get up there and make a speech if you want to make a speech,” Joe said.

Pat said her husband was one of six men of about the same age being treated during the same period. All of the wives supported each other and their husbands. The group became known as “the roundtable.” The group has stayed in touch.

“A month ago we came in for our one year (of being cancer free), and we all met at ProCure,” she said. “Every Wednesday they have a free lunch.”

She said the only sad part of her experience was seeing young children come in for proton therapy. Many of the children come from England where a charity furnishes the plane tickets and transportation for families.

“Many of these children have brain tumors or eye socket tumors. One little boy had skin cancer,” Pat said. “They’ve had their chemotherapy in London. Their hope is to get rid of this and ProCure is highly recommended.”

Joe said he would recommend ProCure to anybody in need of treatment.