You could call it a volunteer caravan. If you lined them up bumper-to-bumper they would make quite an impressive parade. About 40 people, and their vehicles, volunteered to bring Robert Davis for his twice-daily proton therapy over a seven-week period. Davis credits his friends Dan and Lauri Dieterle with organizing the driving tree and arranging food deliveries, too. They used a free online service called LotsaHelpingHands.com
Davis, a resident of Jacksonville’s Southside, was treated last January for a melanoma in his sinus. Davis said that while his wife Sharon drove him to all of his doctor appointments and accompanied him for many of his treatments, his friends wanted to do something to lighten their burden. "I'm fortunate to have a great family and a lot of good friends, " said Davis.
He was very familiar with the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute well before his diagnosis, he said, through friends and because of his volunteer work with THE PLAYERS Championship, the professional golf tournament held in Ponte Vedra Beach annually. He was the tournament chairman in 2013 following many years of working his way up through the volunteer ranks. He remains involved with THE PLAYERS and recently took part in the 2018 Red Coat Ride Out, the group of former tournament chairs that delivers donations to charities throughout Northeast Florida.
One of the donations THE PLAYERS made this year was to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute: a $5,000 gift to the Adolescent and Young Adult Program and a 14-passenger shuttle bus to transport patients to and from treatment. Davis was there for the donation presentation. “It was a special experience for me,” he said. “I know I’ve been able to give back.”
He continued, “I’m impressed with the doctors there. The level of care, compassion – the doctors, the nurses, the staff, the people doing the treatments – I always felt they cared about me. They wanted me to get better. They understood what I was going through.”
Davis said he recently had his six-month, post-treatment checkup, and the scans showed no sign of disease. Proton therapy was targeted enough to avoid his optic nerve, sparing his vision, and his brainstem, sparing the vital connection to the spinal cord. During treatment, and in the weeks and months after, he did experience radiation side effects to the sensitive head and neck area such as soreness in the mouth, blisters on the face and in the throat, and a blocked tear duct, but these have improved, he said. “If you’re facing radiation and proton therapy is an option for you, explore it,” Davis said. “I feel that if I had traditional radiation, the aftereffects would have been much worse.”
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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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