When the Victory Bell rings at Provision Center for Proton Therapy, everyone knows it. Three loud rings resonated through the lobby at Provision Center for Proton Therapy on Feb. 24. They kept sounding over the applause of the gathered staff and well-wishers, announcing the good news: Rex Ward has completed his treatment. He is one of the first patients to complete proton therapy at the new facility, completing four weeks of 20 treatments for prostate cancer.
Rex was in high spirits, shaking hands and cracking jokes, grinning from ear to ear, his wife, Deanna, by his side. Rex said upbeat music is always playing during treatments at Provision, but Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” was the soundtrack today. “I do feel that way about these people,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of medical experiences, but I’ve never had one like this.”
When Rex was first diagnosed with prostate cancer, his urologist gave him a lot of options, but proton therapy wasn’t one of them. He knew about the treatment from family members who had gone through the program at Loma Linda, Calif., the first proton therapy treatment facility in the country. He had almost settled on another treatment path when he saw a television commercial featuring Provision’s Proton Guys, volunteers who have gone through proton therapy and now serve as ambassadors for the program.
“We went online, and within a day or two we had an appointment here,” said Deanna.
“It’s a providential thing that this center opened right when I needed it,” said Rex. “God does wonderful things. I am thankful that God gives people the science to be able to do things like this.” Rex said the treatments have been painless, “like taking an X-ray.” “I feel great! No side effects, no pain. It’s a real blessing,” he said.
Marcio Fagundes, M.D., board certified radiation oncologist and medical director of Provision Center for Proton Therapy, had two patients complete treatment Feb. 24, Rex and one other. “Both feel wonderful,” he said. “It’s just a great accomplishment to provide the most advanced treatment available. It’s good to see the patients we’re seeing doing so well.”
Deanna said Dr. Fagundes has been a great support for her and Rex. “There was no question too trivial, no time that we could not call,” she said.
According to Dr. Fagundes, next steps for Rex include a screening and exam three months from now, followed by screenings every six months for the first five years, and every year after that.
For Rex and Deanna, they plan to stay in touch with the team at Provision. “The whole staff here is like family,” said Rex. “It’s an experience that I won’t forget.”