On June 19, 2015, Leon Warshaw was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer with a Gleason Score of 8. Facing an aggressive, fast-spreading cancer, Leon was determined to find the best treatment option available to him. He began researching treatment options and consulted several doctors, who knew little about proton therapy and all recommended the same thing: hormone therapy and radiation. Nervous about the side effects associated with standard treatments, he focused his research on proton therapy.
“What I read eased my anxiety somewhat, in that it seemed to offer the least amount of side effects but was equal in results to more traditional treatment methods,” said Leon.
It wasn’t long before Leon and his wife arranged a tour of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. They explored the facility, spoke with staff and had lunch with current patients, who were happy to share their experiences. The warm atmosphere and patient-centered care encouraged them to take the next step.
“There was an anxious waiting period to learn if I had been accepted for treatment,” said Leon. “When the call came, I felt as though I had just won the lottery.”
Six months later, Leon and his wife traveled from their home in Sarasota, Florida, to Jacksonville. With the help of the Patient Services team, they found a condo to rent in Jacksonville for the duration of his treatment. He has fond memories of attending events organized by the Institute for patients such as weekly luncheons and group outings, where he watched in awe as patients opened up, happy and smiling, seemingly forgetting for a moment that they were in a fight for their lives. These experiences helped Leon form a close bond with his fellow patients. They became, as he calls them, friends in the battle.
“I cannot stress enough how much these activities and weekly luncheon events meant to the mental and physical well-being of myself and all of the patients,” said Leon. “Other than the short treatments, it was like being on vacation.”
Leon, a retired retail executive and entrepreneur, is now a member of the Civilian Volunteer Police in Sarasota and recently received an award for lifesaving efforts.