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By Artie

Guest Blogger on 10/12/2016

Artie’s experience, #22: Graduation day – Completing Proton Treatment

After nearly two months of daily proton radiation therapy to my prostate bed, my last treatment ended with a graduation ceremony. Above, Tierra (left) and Angela (right) presented me with a graduation certificate, and I received a challenge coin to recognize my accomplishment. Below are photos of each of these symbols of completion. 

Graduation certificate given to Ackerman Cancer Center patients on the day they complete radiation therapy cancer treatment. Challenge Coin given to Ackerman Cancer Center proton therapy patients when they complete cancer treatment.

As I’ve mentioned in my prior blogs, the entire staff at Ackerman Cancer Center is so supportive. They are like family. They are the ones who deserve the awards and recognition. All I did was lie down on the treatment table.

I admit that I won’t miss the hour drive from Fernandina Beach to Jacksonville every day, but I have no complaints. It was an easy adjustment in order to have the benefit of the proton therapy. Having my wife Margy with me each day, listening to audio books, the radio, and just chatting as we travelled, made the time pass easily.

What we will miss are the dear friends we came to know in the Jacksonville office. We actually looked forward to seeing our new friends in the waiting room, sharing conversation and perspectives, as mentioned in Blog #6, “Caring and Sharing,” and seeing them at the free Wednesday night dinners (see Blog #7). We’ll miss those friends, and have already been in touch with several by email. We also hope to see some of them again, away from the Center.

X Marks the Spots

I won’t miss the body tags that are used for precision alignment, as described in Blog #5. Actually, I hardly noticed them, and was quite surprised that most of them lasted through the entire 2-month period, despite showers and normal daily activity. However, it was fun to finally peel them off and not have to think about them anymore. 

Prostate cancer survivor Artie removes the tags used to line his radiation therapy site up for treatment each day.

Looking Ahead

Consistent with Ackerman Cancer Center’s thoughtfulness and planning, the “Celebration for Survival” packet I received with my certificate and coin at graduation included several other items of value.

Celebration for Survival packet given to Ackerman Cancer Center's post-treatment cancer patients

“The Road to Survivorship” booklet included a patient checklist to encourage discussion with staff during upcoming follow-up visits. The purpose of the brochure is to help highlight concerns and identify where to go for help. Any physical, emotional, and day-to-day issues post-treatment patients may have can be addressed, and the supportive staff can assist as needed. As the booklet states, “You are not alone.”

On the “Follow-up Care” flier, Oncology Nurse Practitioner Katrina Evans commits to providing the care, compassion, and excellence we have become accustomed to during treatments. It’s indeed comforting to know that as we move forward in our post-treatment journey, there are many clinical experts who will help us along the way if we need their guidance and assistance.

Paying It Forward

One of the items in the packet is information about the First Coast Cancer Foundation. This charitable organization helps provide patients with financial support while they are undergoing treatment. One year of recent donations to this organization provided $25,000 in gas cards for patients to travel to life-saving treatments, over $20,000 for public transportation vouchers, over 12,000 hours of electricity with utility bills covered, and over 40 nights of hotel accommodations for out-of-town patients. I was proud to donate to this important charity.

It is with a warm heart that I look forward to my next chapters of life.  Ackerman Cancer Center has provided me with optimism, confidence, and spirit as I look ahead to my future. I’ll continue to read the blogs and health updates on their informative website, I’ll attend periodic lunch-and-learn workshops, and, most importantly, I’ll be sure to stick to my scheduled follow-up appointments to monitor my post-treatment progress.

I’ll continue to submit a few more blogs to summarize my post-treatment experiences. I hope your own journey is as successful and productive as mine has been. I wish you well.


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