Patient Spotlight: Dr. Arthur “Art” Rocker

Overcoming fear of cancer and treatment with proton therapy

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

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Dr. Curtis Bryant (left) says farewell and congratulates Art Rocker (right) following Art's last proton therapy treatment

Fear is a word Reverend Dr. Arthur “Art” Rocker is familiar with. With four close family members and numerous friends who have been diagnosed or passed away from cancer, when Rocker received his own diagnosis of prostate cancer, “fear” is the emotion that filled his body. Fear that his outcome would be similar to countless others in his life; fear that he would have to experience the same symptoms and side effects; fear of an uncertain future. However, as Rocker looks back on his life and experiences, fear can also be a positive emotion. The right amount, he believes, can be used as a springboard to propel you to do great things.

From a young age, Rocker has been a civil and human rights activist, leading others and standing up for those who need a helping hand. In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Rocker founded the organization Operation People For Peace, Inc. (OPFP) to provide a voice to the people along the Gulf Coast and to help them get back up on their feet. OPFP has since grown to provide advocacy and to serve underrepresented communities around the world.

Rocker was first introduced to proton therapy while on a business trip for OPFP speaking with men who he found out also had personal experiences with other treatments for prostate cancer, including robotic surgery and other conventional treatments. Every man he spoke with told Rocker of the negative side effects they experienced with their treatments. While none of the men had undergone proton therapy, one of them suggested Rocker look into it.

After researching his options, Rocker made his first treatment appointment at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. On his first day of treatment Rocker felt that familiar emotion of fear and canceled his appointment. He eventually scheduled another and on the day of treatment, he canceled again. A third time Rocker made the decision to move forward with proton therapy and this time it was for good. Rocker completed his treatment earlier in July and celebrated the milestone as every patient does by ringing Aud’s Chime, a large chime suspended in the main lobby. The fear he originally had had dissipated and has transformed into hope – hope for the future and strength to continue living his life to the fullest.

Throughout his treatment, Rocker continued to fly around the country serving others. He would hop on a plane, fly to a community in need and come back in time for his daily proton therapy treatment. The next day he would do it all over again. Rocker recalls that this would not have been possible had he experienced any of the side effects the men he previously spoke with had through other treatments.

“Proton therapy is an ideal cancer treatment for the businessman or woman. More than 20 different kinds of cancers are treated with proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and treatment is less radical and less invasive than other options. It allows you to go through your treatment without the side effects that disrupt your daily life,” said Rocker. “Many other people who are predisposed to cancer should know about the benefits of proton therapy and should be able to have access to the best treatment available.”

“While the nature of my work doesn’t allow me to talk about my problems as I’m focused on helping others, my life is a testimony to the power of proton therapy.” Post treatment, Rocker’s mission has remained the same – to ensure his children and others like them have the opportunity to grow up in good communities and a better world.

“Embrace the fear and keep it alive. Let it drive you to accomplish positive things. Have patience and be Christ-like and you’ll make it.”

About This Newsletter

The Precision Newsletter is an electronic-only publication that is distributed by email. Each issue is sent monthly to patients, alumni patients and friends of the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. As the official newsletter of the Institute, the content is compiled and prepared by our communications representative and approved by the editor Stuart Klein, executive director of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Special bulletin newsletters may occasionally be prepared when timely topics and new developments in proton therapy occur. If you would like to send a Letter to the Editor, please click here.


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