Four days after heart attack, Provision patient guts out cancer race

Posted by on Thursday, October 29th, 2015


When Tammy Coleman sets her mind to something, she is not to be deterred.

Coleman, who recently completed proton therapy for breast cancer, had signed up for the Komen Race for the Cure this past Saturday. Thus, when she was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday with what the doctor informed her was a heart attack, she gave him very specific instructions.

“I told the ER doctor that he needed to call MY doctors, and I needed to be out of there by Thursday,” says Coleman. “My thoughts were, ‘I got a race to run! I’ve got to get out of here!'”

Her doctor did arrive later that day, ran some tests and saw to it she was out of the hospital Thursday night. And three nurses from her cardiologist’s office were there with Coleman and her son, Rodney—all beaming as they strolled down the 5K course.

At the end of the race, Coleman found one of Provision‘s proton therapy cars in a nearby parking lot, posed for pictures and savored her victory.


It’s not been an easy road for her. Prior to her breast cancer diagnosis, Coleman had two heart attacks and a stroke, and she’s struggled with debilitating high blood pressure. With the breast cancer came a double mastectomy and complete hysterectomy—she tested positive for the BRCA gene, which indicates a high probability of both breast and ovarian cancer—followed by chemotherapy and then radiation, in her case, proton therapy. With her medical history, conventional radiation would have further heightened her risk of more damage to her heart as well as lungs. She emerged from the experience an enthusiastic advocate for breast cancer research and proton therapy. Read more about Coleman and her son’s experience at

Throughout the Race for the Cure course, “we went slow, laughed, talked and danced a little along the way. I felt great.We made it to the end of the race,” says Coleman. “We found the Proton Mobile, and that’s when it hit me. I had come to the end of the journey of my fight against breast cancer.”

Now, it’s time to rest up and take it easy, she says, as she recovers from a string of survivor events, cancer treatment and her recent trip to the hospital.

“I had been so busy trying to participate in every pink event that I was invited to and keep up with everything else life brings,” she says. “For some reason it’s been hard to say no. I am too hyper for my own good sometimes. Slowing down has not been my option. My body said different.”

She doesn’t plan on stopping her advocacy efforts in the future, just pacing herself. And for others facing the cancer battle, she has some advice.

“Cancer doesn’t always have to be the end. Embrace life for what it is. Live every day as if it’s your last day. I was given lumpy lemons and made pink lemonade!”

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Fall Provision Proton Post delivers news, healthy tips

Posted by on Tuesday, October 27th, 2015


The latest edition of Provision’s quarterly newsletter comes packed with news about our patients, treatment options and advice from Provision’s nutritionist on how to keep it healthy in the upcoming holiday season.

In honor of breast cancer month, we profile Mary Bagley, a Stage 3 breast cancer patient who was successfully treated at Provision—and through it all was able to carry on her busy lifestyle! And learn about a new group, the Proton Gals, formed to support women cancer survivors who have gone through or completed proton therapy We talk to Dr. Marcio Fagundes about the new hydrogel product that’s sparing prostate cancer patients the daily “balloon” encounter and protecting them from unwanted effects of radiation on sensitive organs. Get to know the smiling face and caring person of Kristin Coffield, Provision manager of patient services, and how she came to leave a career in five-star hospitality to care for cancer patients. Learn how Dr. Allen Meek came to start a farm but ended up helping start a proton cente. And read about all of the Kentucky patients who’ve became fans of, and advocates for, Provision Center for Proton Therapy.

Staying healthy is an important part of successful cancer treatment and cancer prevention, and in this issue we look toward the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are always a challenging time to keep up an exercise routine and keep away from extra calories. That can be especially true for patients who are away from home. In this issue, Nutritionist Casey Coffey, talks about multiple ways to address the unhealthy temptations of the holiday season—as well as how to combat the extra stress the season can deliver. Below are some more suggestions for ingredient substitutions as well as simple, delicious recipes (some you can even prepare at your ‘home away from home’!)

Happy reading!


Individual Protein Cheesecake

6oz Chobani plain 0% Greek Yogurt
1/2 Tbsp Jell-O sugar-free instant pudding mix – cheesecake

1/2 cup fiber bran cereal
4 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp unsalted almond butter
1/4 tsp stevia
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Add the cheesecake flavored pudding mix into the yogurt and stir until well combined. Set yogurt mixture aside. In a food processor or blender, grind the bran to a fine texture. In a small mixing bowl, add the ground bran with all dry ingredients, (stevia, cinnamon, and  nutmeg) and mix evenly. Then add the almond butter and water and stir until it becomes moist and sticky. If the batter is still crumbly, add additional water in 1 tsp increments until desired consistency is achieved. Pour the crust mixture into a small 4in circular pan. Pack the crust along the bottom and sides of the dish to create a pie shape. Pour the filling on top of the crust and smooth evenly along the top. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and enjoy cold.


Apple Pie Parfait

1 small fuji apple
6 oz Chobani 0% Honey Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup cooked chilled quinoa
2 Tbsp walnuts
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Cook quinoa to package instructions and refrigerate beforehand. Chop the apple into small chunks. Place apple chunks in a microwave safe bowl, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover with saran wrap and microwave for 1-1.5 minutes until apple becomes soft. Stir and set aside. In a glass jar, layer half of the yogurt along the bottom, followed by half of the quinoa, walnuts, and apple mixture. Repeat layers to create a parfait and store in the refrigerator or enjoy warm.

Keep reading to find more recipes, plus healthy ingredient substitutions!

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Not about dying but living—new film shows benefits of patient-centric care

Posted by on Friday, October 16th, 2015


Matteo bursts onto the screen, full of life, language and an infectious sense of humor—a personality that overshadows the tracheostomy tube emerging from his neck.

Matteo suffers from Ondine’s syndrome, also known as congenital central hypoventilation syndrome. The rare condition results from an absence of the autonomic impulse to breathe, requiring the individual to require respiratory support equipment during sleep. It can also result in long-term health concerns related to oxygen deprivation such as pulmonary hypertension and heart failure.

But for Matteo, although his long-term future is uncertain, his disease is simply the context of an otherwise normal, happy life. That’s because his family and healthcare providers form a team that not only attend to Matteo’s extensive medical needs but also his quality of life.

This practice of medicine is known as palliative care, and is the subject of a new documentary called “Little Stars: Accomplishing the Extraordinary in the Face of Serious Illness.” Along with Matteo, the film features children from around the world who, in the face of life threatening or life ending illness, have a team of healthcare providers as focused on life’s quality as its quantity.

Many people may be more familiar with palliative care in the context of helping manage the dying process, says Tamara Vern-Gross, radiation oncologist at Provision Center for Proton Therapy and a palliative care specialist. This week she hosted a special viewing of the movie for Provision staff and area health care providers.

“There is often a misconception that palliative care means ‘giving up’ or is strictly limited to end-of-life care,” she says. “In general, palliative is designed to find meaning and help families and patients learn how to live better when faced with a life-limiting or life-threatening illness—whether a patient may live weeks or months or years. It is about finding the cure but also to identify the other things that are important when dealing with a life-altering illness.”

Those needs range from sorting through a myriad of treatment options to financial concerns to family relationships to pain management and addressing a range of emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. And in the case of children, it becomes more complicated as parents try to navigate through the demands of school, work, sibling needs and their own grief.

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