Gastrointestinal Cancer

Survivor Spotlight: David Bruyn

David Bruyn Finds Better Health and Optimism Following Endless Health Scares

David Bruyn has been through a lot. Following two strokes and brain surgery, he faced another challenge when a hemorrhagic brain stem stroke impacted his ability to swallow, leading to the installation of a feeding tube. Amidst this, a chance discovery was made during an emergency tube replacement—a lesion on his esophagus, marking the beginning of his battle with cancer. Now, almost five years with no evidence of disease, David is an esophageal cancer survivor.

david bruyn

Proton Therapy Commercial Leads to the Best Treatment Option

Due to his complex medical history, and the cancer being located at the junction of his esophagus and stomach, the surgeons did not recommend additional surgery, fearing that it would be too much for his body. His care team recommended a treatment plan comprising radiation and chemotherapy. When their physician recommended proton therapy, David’s wife remembered a commercial they had seen on TV years ago about the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. She had said if she was ever diagnosed with cancer, that was where she wanted to go. Well, unfortunately, they were confronted with a cancer diagnosis, but thanks to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, they had a great treatment option right near home.

When they reached out to the Institute, they had his medical records sent to be reviewed. A swift consultation and insurance approvals ensured a seamless transition into treatment. David felt confident with the fact that the proton beam is focused on the cancer with little collateral damage. He was grateful that insurance was not a barrier for him. Even if it had been, he said that to get the best treatment option for himself, they would have made it work.

David and his wife drove from their home in St. Augustine each day for 34 days for treatment in the summer of 2019. “Driving back and forth each day can be tiring, but when you’re talking about your life, it is worth it,” said David.

Throughout his proton therapy sessions, David experienced minimal discomfort, retaining his hair and enduring no lasting side effects. “(The Institute) team and proton therapy made it easy,” he said. “All I did was lie there on the table and the team and the machine did all the work,” David continued. 

When he started proton therapy treatment, he still had the feeding tube from his prior health issues. However, the precision of proton therapy not only targeted his cancer, but also facilitated the removal of his feeding tube, a testament to its efficacy in preserving quality of life. Thanks to the precision of proton therapy, treating esophageal cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers, many patients are able to avoid having feeding tubes placed.

“Look at Us” and a Promising Future 

At his proton graduation and chime-ringing, David and his wife danced to a song that they recorded with their band before his stroke. Their song, “Look at Us,” was the perfect way to symbolize how far they had come together and the life they would be able to continue to lead together.

David’s unwavering optimism echoes in his words. "What you should expect from proton therapy is success." His profound gratitude resonates as he declares, "I feel better than I have in years! Thank you, proton therapy!"


More News