When Don Kearns landed in a urologists office with kidney stones the doctor also suggested a PSA test for prostate cancer since he’d never had one. “I said no way. I have no symptoms and there’s no family history of prostate cancer.”
“It hit me like a ton of bricks. I immediately started researching what that meant and thought, I’m a dead man. My brother had kidney cancer ten years ago. He’s okay but my father died of lung cancer at 55 and I was turning 55 so I was pretty nervous.”
Don started researching the best treatment options for prostate cancer and spoke to seven doctors.
“The majority recommended surgery. They said it was the best way to treat it at my young age. But I didn’t like the risk factors including damage to other organs, impotence and incontinence.”
All the surgeons assured Don those things wouldn’t happen but Don wasn’t convinced because he knew of men experiencing such side effects after prostate surgery.
Don was also frustrated with many of the doctors offices because they wouldn’t take his calls or call back when they said they would. One center scheduled surgery without his permission.
“I was having nightmares and in the back of my mind I kept thinking about CyberKnife. I’d heard about it, started researching, found The CyberKnife Center of Miami’s website and began reading. It explained exactly how CyberKnife works. I read all the studies, patient testimonials and watched the videos on the website. It was very helpful and seemed like a much better option.”
So Don called The CyberKnife Center of Miami.
“They talked me off the ledge and made me feel so comfortable.”
CyberKnife Miami recommended Don consult with board certified radiation oncologist, Dr. Mark Pomper to learn more about CyberKnife Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy, also known as SBRT and design his treatment plan.
“I showed Dr. Pomper a picture of my family and grandchildren and said, this is why I’m here. I want more time with them. Dr. Pomper laid out all the objective facts and was the most gracious doctor I talked to. I was convinced and moved forward with treatment at CyberKnife Miami and Dr. Pomper. For the first time I felt confident I was on the right track and slept well that night as did my family.”
Dr. Pomper says, “Don’s a good candidate for CyberKnife because his tumor was small and hadn’t spread.” He adds, “There’s a general thought among surgeons that surgery is better for men under age 60 because radiation’s long term effects may cause problems years later, like impotence and incontinence, but that’s not what research is proving. Surgery has long term effects too. CyberKnife has fewer side effects if any. Its pinpoint radiation beams hit only the tumor, dissolving it, so we can give a much higher dose with a lot fewer treatments, leaving healthy surrounding tissue unharmed.”
CyberKnife, considered a standard radiation treatment option for prostate cancer requires only 5 treatments over two weeks instead of 45 or more over several months with other types of radiation.
Don says, “I asked one surgeon what about doing CyberKnife SBRT and the doctor said what’s SBRT and I walked out of his office.”
CyberKnife is the most effective form of SBRT known as Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy. While some doctors don’t know about it, most do but may not recommend it because their medical center doesn’t have the technology. Plus it’s less lucrative because it requires much fewer treatments.
Some urologists may have a conflict of interest because they have ownership in a conventional radiation therapy center making more money recommending 45 treatments instead of five.
Don was also told by surgeons there’s not enough research on CyberKnife even though it was FDA approved in 2001, has treated hundreds of thousands of patients world wide, is covered by insurance and has a 97-percent success rate for prostate cancer.
Dr. Pomper says, “There’s nearly 20 years of scientific research proving it’s safe and effective. I bring my patients to The CyberKnife Center of Miami because often it’s the best treatment option for them.”
CyberKnife Miami is open to all patients world wide and CyberKnife trained radiation oncologists.
Don says, “From a customer service stand point, CyberKnife Miami is superior. Every time they said they’d do something they did it. If they said they’d call, send an e-mail, set up an appointment they did it. They were on time and walked you through every step. Their professionalism is impressive from the first call to the last follow up. What I never expected was their radiation therapist, Mario Tobon showing up for my MRI and CT Scan at imaging facilities not part of CyberKnife Miami. When you’re scared, don’t know what to expect and they come to hold your hand, it gives you and your family a lot of confidence and eases your fears. They treated me and the whole family compassionately and that meant the world to me.”
“The whole process was a piece of cake. I’d lay down on the CyberKnife table for each forty minute treatment, relax and listen to my special music play list. It’s fascinating how a machine which makes no noise is so powerful.”
“My side effects were minimal. After my fifth and final treatment, I had a little fatigue and urinary urgency that lasted maybe a day. Nothing bad enough to stop me from working or doing any thing. We’d walk out of CyberKnife Miami and go to lunch while surgery patients I knew of were dealing with pain, bleeding and learning how to urinate again.”
Dr. Pomper says, “Do yourself a favor, before you get any cancer treatment do your research, learn all your options, get a second opinion from a radiation oncologist and ask about CyberKnife therapy.”
Don agrees, “You’ve got to be your own patient advocate. The only person looking out for you, is you. The biggest take away from my experience is what goes on with American medicine today, it’s unreal.”
“Now I educate everyone I can about prostate cancer and CyberKnife. I’m amazed CyberKnife isn’t offered to everyone. After my first treatment I went to the gym and set my personal best bench press and endurance record and then hit the golf course.”
“Cancer changes you. You look at sunsets differently and you don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m a fighter with a positive attitude. I’m fighting for my life and I’m going to win.”