“I Wasn’t Afraid of Dying from Prostate Cancer”

Life can throw some strange curves our way. For years, Jim Cox read the medical records of hundreds of men diagnosed with prostate cancer when he was with the Veteran’s Administration. “In the back of my mind, I always thought, ‘I’m going to get this one day,’” Jim remembers.

Reading those VA records made Jim diligent about getting regular PSA screenings—even after he retired and moved to Hillsboro, Texas.

“I had just gotten mine checked and it was within the normal limits, but I had some “old man” symptoms so I went to an urologist. He checked my PSA and confirmed it was normal, but my testosterone was low. After one round of hormone therapy he did all the tests again and my PSA had spiked from 2.8 to 10.”

A biopsy confirmed that Jim had prostate cancer.

“I wasn’t afraid of dying, I just didn’t want to wear a diaper for the rest of my life, so at first I considered a prostatectomy,” Jim says.

Unhappy with the way his first visit went with a surgeon in Waco, Jim remembered all the times he had passed the USMD Prostate Cancer facility when he lived in Arlington. He met with Dr. Keith Waguespack, a board certified urologist and surgeon about robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy.

“He very politely told me, ‘You’re overweight. I won’t operate on you at this weight because you have a 25 percent higher risk of incontinence based on your current weight.’ The first surgeon I met with in Waco hadn’t mentioned that. I told my wife, ‘I don’t know what type of treatment I’m going to have, but I’m going to have it here."

While he was dieting to drop the 30 pounds Dr. Waguespack instructed him to loose, Jim decided to learn more about his other treatment options. He visited Dr. Peter LaNasa, director of radiation oncology, and eventually decided to pursue radiation therapy.

“With 3-D image guided and tracking technology, radiation therapy has reached an unprecedented level,” Dr. La Nasa says. “We are able to pinpoint the exact location and shape of the cancer tumor and deliver a very high dose of radiation to destroy cancer cells, while limiting radiation to adjacent healthy tissue and organs, including the bladder and rectum.”

“It’s so high tech now,” Jim says. “I had three gold seeds implanted in me, followed by a CT scan and MRI.”

The CT and MRI scans were used to create a high-resolution, 3-D image of Jim’s anatomy—a map to guide the precise delivery of radiation. “They ask you to lie still, but if you move, the equipment tracks your movement,” Jim explains.

A robotic table continuously tracks and realigns the patient's body across six dimensions—ensuring even the slightest movement is properly accounted for during treatment.

Although Jim’s radiation therapy consisted of 40 sessions—one every weekday for eight weeks—he happily drove to and from Hillsboro for his 10-minute treatments.

“My radiation treatments were one of the most pleasurable experiences of my life,” he says.
“USMD demonstrates great service at its very best. Everyone is so warm and friendly. They know and call you by name, they take care of every detail.”

Jim was particularly impressed with the proactive and helpful attitude of everyone.

“One day I dropped off some insurance paperwork and asked, ‘Will you get someone to complete this and I’ll pick it up the next time I’m here,’” he recalls. “Three days later, I stopped back by and they said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about that, we’ve already filled it out and mailed it in for you.’ A few days later I get a check from the cancer insurance company. They take the extra step in everything they do and bend over backwards to provide friendly service.”

“The whole process has been a blessing. Not only did I find the prostate cancer early and get it treated, I’m not carrying a bag of dog food around my waist anymore. I dropped 60 pounds. My cardiologist and my family doctor are both giddy about my weight loss. I don’t take blood pressure medicine any more. My allergist is happy. If I can help one more person have that kind of experience, it will be good.”

Most important, after successfully completing radiation therapy and a year of follow-up care with Dr. LaNasa, Jim is officially cancer free. And he hasn’t experienced any side effects from his treatment.

“Unless something goes wrong, I won’t see Dr. LaNasa again—which is kind of sad. It’s kind of crazy, but I’m going to miss seeing everyone at USMD. It was a joy to go there because of all the people. They’re just wonderful.”

If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would like to know more about radiation therapy, please contact USMD Prostate Cancer Center online or call 1-888-PROSTATE

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