Eighteen years ago, I relocated my family from Philadelphia to Jacksonville to serve as UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s first, and to date only, executive director. At the time, the Institute was a true startup. Project financing was in place, equipment selection was being finalized and construction was well underway...
In August, Mike Metzler and Gary Fiske, two adult patients, arranged for a young Canadian patient, AJ Smith, to travel into the sky in a firetruck bucket in celebration of completing his treatment. Mike got to know AJ while they were both receiving treatment and bonded over baseball.
When Debbie Elert was diagnosed with breast cancer on the left side, she knew maintaining her strength and getting back to her work as soon as possible was important.
Stuart Klein, Executive Director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, is retiring in November 2023. He has led the innovative cancer treatment facility since 2005, and managed a program that to date, has treated more than 11,000 cancer patients from around the world.
In September, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute launched The Blog Spot. The Blog Spot is a collection of articles that discuss various topics related to cancer diagnosis, Florida Proton, proton therapy, radiation therapy, cancer treatment, survivorship, cancer research and more.
Young Adult Brain Tumor Survivor Found Solace in His Music and Support from His Family During Treatment
Zane Baker was diagnosed with an oligodendroglioma at age 20. When he was hospitalized following a seizure, his first call was to his parents.
September was Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It is a month where organizations and individuals all over the world recognize young cancer patients and their families, as well as the individuals who rally behind them and support them during their cancer journey.
In August, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute recognizes its 17th anniversary. Since 2006, we have promised patient-centered care and an innovative approach to cancer treatment. We are pleased to announce the opening of our upgraded fifth treatment room.
The University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute has completed the installation of a dedicated nozzle in an original gantry, or treatment room, that delivers pencil beam scanning to our patients.
We often find patients form friend groups while being treated at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. They meet during luncheons at the Institute or while getting to know one another while waiting in the lobby.
The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is pleased to welcome two new nurse practitioners to the team who provide care to our patients during their survivorship period: Toni Ruffino and Kerri Jarrell.
Dan Stokes received prostate cancer treatment at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute six years ago. He continued his hobby of Land Speed Racing (LSR) following treatment. There was no way a cancer diagnosis and treatment were going to slow him down and stop him from racing his truck, which he lovingly refers to as “Mutt.”
Catch up on news and developments at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
- Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
- Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
- Lymphoma Awareness Month
- Top Doctors
Since our doors opened in 2006, our 150 dedicated staff members have brought hope of a cancer-free future to more than 10,000 patients from Florida, the U.S. and 34 countries. Our physicians are advancing cancer treatment with an innovative approach to treatment and clinical research.
Jasmine Miller, Child Life Specialist, knew from the age of eight that she wanted to find a career helping kids with cancer. Young Jasmine watched her dad struggle through a cancer diagnosis and treatment and thought that if her dad was suffering so much then how would someone her own age feel.
Melissa shares her breast cancer story as she believes so many more breast cancer patients could benefit from proton therapy.
In 2017, Melissa Breedlove, a 36-year-old scientist and mom, was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. She is thankful that during her initial radiation consultation in Gainesville, the physician was knowledgeable about proton therapy, and she recommended it as an option to explore.
Former Pediatric Patient Turned Nursing Student Reflects on Her Cancer Journey, Inspiration for Career
Lauren Foster made her first trip to the United States from her family’s home in Birmingham, England when she was 10 years old. It was a trip that would change her life. Lauren, her mother, father and sister made the journey together so that Lauren could receive proton therapy treatment for a rare tumor called rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of tumor that occurs in soft tissue.
Ajay Bendolph wants men to know prostate cancer could happen to them even if they don’t expect it. According to the National Cancer Institute, African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer and are twice as likely to die from the disease, compared to white men.
In April, the Climb for Cancer Foundation visited the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute for a tour and lunch. The tour included a presentation from Dr. Daniel Indelicato and a visit to a treatment room.
Catch up on news and developments at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
- Cancer Survivor Month Flash Mob
- Dr. Mailhot Recognized at 61st Annual PTCOG Conference
The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute remains a recognized world leader in the use of proton therapy for the treatment of pediatric cancers. It’s an area of great specialization, and we have a dedicated team of distinguished pediatric proton therapy experts who deliver the most advanced radiation therapy and state-of-the-art treatment protocols.
Dr. Indelicato accepted the Fellowship diploma in person at the Royal College, London, on March 24, 2023. The RCR, established in 1975 awards Honorary Fellowships to outstanding individuals who have made notable contributions to, or promoted the interests of, clinical radiology or clinical oncology. It is the highest honor that can be awarded to an individual who is not a Fellow of the College.
“It’s hard to have hope in the middle of a storm like the cancer diagnosis of your child. However, proton therapy was the key to Mollie’s survival. We got the best treatment available to her,” said parents Fiona and Declan Mulholland during a follow-up visit in Jacksonville more than four years after their daughter’s treatment for a rare tumor, rhabdomyosarcoma.
As the parent of an adult who was treated for cancer, Yvonne Wood has witnessed the often challenging therapies patients must face. With an understanding of how trying treatment can be, Mrs. Wood recently made a unique gift to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, which has funded the creation of a space for patients to find much-needed comfort and rest.
More than 20 STEM high school students, teachers and visitors recently attended a tour at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute to learn about the breadth of medical career opportunities. The Andrew Jackson High School and First Coast High School students included most grade levels, as well as several from a physics class, some from the medical magnet choice program, and others were early college program freshmen.
Catch up on news and developments at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
- Physicians and Physicists Receive Awards
- Eric Brooks, MD, MHS, on First Coast Living
- Author Ron Nelson's New Book
The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute earned the designation as a Center of Excellence for SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel. The award was presented by device maker Boston Scientific in recognition of the superior expertise and experience in placing the SpaceOAR Hydrogel.
Join us for a multidisciplinary panel discussion on the topic of Complex Cases in Breast Cancer. Breast cancer is often treated with multiple modalities, including surgery, radiation therapy and systemic therapy.
In 2017, a research team led by Nancy Mendenhall, M.D., medical director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, was awarded a five-year, $11.9 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to directly compare the potential benefits and harms of proton therapy to standard radiation therapy when treating prostate cancer.
It’s the award-winning app that was built just for our pediatric patients. ProtonU is interactive, educational and fun! Parents and caregivers can help their children become familiar with the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
A finger tap coaxes a gentle sound from the dimpled surface of a flying saucer-shaped instrument made of hand-hammered sheet metal. The vibration from the musical instrument, called the handpan, moves and resonates through The Players Lobby at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
The holiday season is a time for giving and receiving. We are so grateful for the generous outpouring of support from staff, community organizations and individuals.
Breast cancer treatment and research is a significant area of focus for us at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. For more than 10 years, our team of breast cancer specialists, including physicians, nurses, physicists, radiation therapists and dosimetrists, has cared for hundreds of people with breast cancer.
UF Health and UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Collaborate to Offer Patients World-Class Breast Cancer Care
For over a decade, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has treated patients with proton therapy for breast cancer.
A year ago, Elaine Carter was faced with a decision. A regular screening mammogram led to a diagnosis of breast cancer in her left breast.
When she was diagnosed with high-risk breast cancer in 2017, Maureen “Moe” LaTour had an advantage. She had nearly 40 years of experience as a nurse.
An on-the-go military spouse and mom, Allison Kijek is used to keeping her options open. So when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, she researched and got a second opinion.
For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October, the University of Florida Radiation Oncology Breast team launched a website and app to help individuals assess their risk of developing breast cancer.
UF Health and the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Attend Community Events to Educate the Public About Breast Cancer Awareness
During the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute actively participated in community events. Here are some of the highlights.
Patients and their loved ones tell us that having a supportive community has a profound effect on how they cope with their cancer diagnosis and treatment. We strive to have opportunities for patients to interact safely in the lobby before treatment and at facilitated group meetings.
Proton Therapy Helps Eddie Watts Stay Active
Eddie Watts is just on the other side of his prostate cancer treatment and is joyful to have found proton therapy. He is continuing the next leg of his journey through life where his friends will often find him on the golf course or in a heated pickle ball match.
Patient alum and ambassador Lee Moultrie III is on a mission to spread the word about prostate cancer and proton therapy. He was featured recently in an article in The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.
It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news that Ruby Henderson passed away. She was our first volunteer, starting a mere seven months after we treated our first patient.
Increasingly, our patients tell us they have been referred by their physician to have proton therapy. This is a good sign. It tells us that our colleagues in medicine see the evidence and the value of protons to treat many types of cancers effectively.
Proton therapy achieves high efficacy with a shorter course of treatment. Typically, proton therapy for prostate cancer is given over an eight-week period with 39 treatments. There is new evidence from the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute that a six-week, 28-treatment course of proton therapy is highly effective and achieves excellent prostate cancer patient outcomes.
You may have seen a man outfitted as Proton Man in the halls at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute this summer. Under the mask and cape: Abe DeLeon from Roswell, Georgia, who was being treated for prostate cancer.
In our first 15 years we have made medical history as the first to offer proton therapy in the state of Florida and all of the Southeastern United States. We have treated more than 10,000 patients and opened over 65 clinical trials.
Are you a UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Ambassador? If so, be sure to join us live online via Zoom for an Ambassador meeting on Tuesday, August 16 at 12 p.m.
Dr. Adam Holtzman Appointed Deputy Operations Editor of the International Journal of Particle Therapy
Adam L. Holtzman, MD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology, Jacksonville, was appointed Deputy Operations Editor of the International Journal of Particle Therapy (IJPT) on March 1, 2022.
Welcome Kasey Heilman, Director of Development The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has appointed Kasey Heilman as Director of Development. In her new role, Kasey will lead the development and implementation of fundraising programs to support and advance the priorities of the Institute. She works closely with donors, volunteers, patients, faculty and staff to advance philanthropic initiatives.
June is Cancer Survivor Month. According to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), more than 16.9 million people in the United States are cancer survivors who are living with, through, and beyond their disease.
A few of our past patients reflect on their survivorship and what is most important to them: Ben Smith, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s first patient treated with proton therapy in 2006, says that life is about celebration and adventure.
For Lee Moultrie III, 65, it’s all about recovery after his treatment. He looks forward to mowing the lawn or heading to the gym – any activity that keeps him active. One of the most important parts of his recovery is advocating for proton therapy and reaching people of color in their communities where he hopes to help those in need navigate the healthcare system.
In an interview on First Coast Living (WTLV/WJXX) in Jacksonville, Florida, Dr. Nancy Mendenhall, medical director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and Assistant Chair and Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Florida, shares how proton therapy is improving cancer patients’ long-term survival.
Measuring progress is in our nature. As cancer researchers, we have a passion to make treatments better for patients. As radiation oncologists, nurses, radiation therapists, medical physicists and dosimetrists, we have a passion to create the best treatment plan customized for each patient.
The moment she opened her UF Health patient portal in September 2021, Dacia Starratt said she knew it was cancer. The word carcinoma seemed to jump off the screen in the biopsy results report.
When prostate cancer returns after radical prostatectomy, proton therapy is an excellent treatment option
Surgery is a common treatment for localized prostate cancer that has not spread to other areas of the body, or metastasized.
On November 17, Dr. Nancy Mendenhall, COMPPARE Principal Investigator, and Charles Griggs, Minority Engagement Group Coordinator, participated in a special panel discussion entitled “From Principles to Practice: Building Partnerships for Trust and Equity in Health Research”
Thank you to those who participated in making the James M. Doss Foundation Challenge Grant a success. We superseded our goal and improvements are already underway for Phase I of our simulation suite renovation.
Happy Anniversary! We are overwhelmed by the response from the community, patients, alumni patients, and friends who have helped us mark this milestone of 15 years.
The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute recognized its 15th anniversary in an intimate ceremony on Oct. 13 in the lobby, marking 15 years since the official dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the medical facility.
Fifteen years ago, the Institute opened its doors to provide lifesaving cancer care to those in need, including one of its first patients.
The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and UF Department of Radiation Oncology have recently been awarded two grants: one to quantify the risk of second cancers in children treated with radiation and the other to measure the impact of a breast cancer awareness public education campaign.
The James M. Doss Foundation has graciously offered to match every charitable gift to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute for the renovation of the simulation suite, dollar per dollar, up to $150,000.
In this breakout session, a roundtable discussion sets the stage for a frank dialogue on building diverse, equitable, and inclusive health research partnerships.
Have you recently turned 70? Did you know that you can use your traditional IRA to make a charitable gift to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in 2021?
With 15 years of experience, we continue to build on our expertise, excellence and high-quality standards that will continue to lead to new discoveries and improve cancer treatment for patients.
This month marks the 15th anniversary of treatment at the region’s first proton therapy facility – the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville.
For the third consecutive time, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has earned two prestigious distinctions for quality care and patient safety.
Results of a recent patient survey indicates positive results with 98% of patients saying they would recommend the institute to someone they know who needs treatment and 99% saying they are satisfied with the treatments they received.
Help us continue our mission to give more patients the ability to live life to the fullest! Take a moment to leave a short review of your experience at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
The University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from The Florida Breast Cancer Foundation to study the best method to improve breast radiotherapy setup and delivery using mixed-reality visualization (MixR).
We have the same address, but a new look for FloridaProton.org. Check it out, and share it with someone you know who is looking for the best cancer treatment.
In Memoriam – Leon L. Haley, Jr., MD, MHSA, CPE, FACEP, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and dean of the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville
We are heartbroken by the sudden passing of Dr. Leon Haley on July 24, 2021. Read more about his life and legacy.
The UF Health Cancer Center on the Jacksonville campus recently received a prestigious three-year accreditation from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.
Raymond Mailhot was awarded the Live Like Bella® grant to study the relationship between brain tumors, proton therapy and scholastic success.
We are proud to share that every UF Health Proton Therapy physician was honored with kind words and other displays of generosity for Doctors’ Day.
Whether patients are from the local Jacksonville community or beyond, they have the peace of mind knowing the care they receive is customized to meet their needs and follows enhanced COVID-related safety measures.
Some of the most effective cancer interventions developed in the modern age are prevention and early detection screening. Mammograms, PSA blood screening, and colonoscopies each have a role in improving survival rates for the most common cancers – breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer, respectively.
It’s easy to see why 99 percent of patients say their treatment at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is excellent when you consider the expertise of the physicians and staff who deliver the care.
The entire team at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute – people who work behind-the-scenes or on the frontline of patient care – has stepped up and done their part to protect patients and each other by wearing appropriate face coverings, or masks.
Doctors across the United States are rapidly adopting telemedicine as a way to effectively treat patients while mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.
As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19, your health and safety remain our top priority. We are continuing radiation therapy for our patients, including proton therapy, IMRT and SBRT, with extra measures in place to ensure your well-being.
Every New Year brings with it new ideas, new challenges and new promises. As we stand at the very beginning of a new decade, it is appropriate for us to look back at the progress made and our goals for the future.
Congratulations to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute medical director, Nancy P. Mendenhall, MD, for receiving the UF Health Cancer Center’s 2019 High-Writer Award.
We are capping off the decade with a commencement – the start of patient treatments in our compact proton therapy gantry, Proteus®ONE. This singular event is the culmination of three years of planning, constructing, installing and commissioning.
An exceptional gift from The Lastinger Family Foundation of St. Augustine, FL, has created the Lastinger Family Foundation Endowment for Pediatric Care at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
Thank you to everyone who has called or emailed your elected representatives in Congress to speak up for proton therapy. While we will not know the outcome for several weeks, we know that we are doing everything possible to fight for patient access to proton therapy.
Almost 98% of the patients treated at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute are treated on research protocols so it stands to reason that our annual fundraising golf tournament — Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® — would dedicate funds raised to research.
“It takes away my pain,” said Rozina Behrooz, coordinator of Residency and Fellowship programs for the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “I go every Monday evening. It’s rare for me to miss a class because it helps me so much. Why would I want to miss it?”
It’s not uncommon for patients who have completed their treatment program and are satisfied with their experience to say, I want to give back. What can I do to help others who have been diagnosed with cancer and are looking for information?
Each year everyone, staff and patients alike, gets into the Halloween spirit, and 2019 was no exception. Pediatric patients and their siblings enjoy trick-or-treating in each department. The Institute’s staff and physicians wear costumes to the delight of patients young and old.
On July 16th Medicare released a proposal to change the way they will pay for radiation therapy services. Per Medicare, the intent of this proposal is to improve quality and reduce cost. Unfortunately, as it is currently proposed, it will have the exact opposite effect on proton therapy.
On July 16th Medicare released a Radiation Oncology Alternative Payment Model (RO-APM) proposal that redefines how radiation therapy services are to be reimbursed for a subset of the radiation community.
In the largest known published analysis of patient-reported sexual health outcomes of potent men at baseline treated with external beam radiotherapy, we reviewed outcomes of men treated at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
The 15th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic to benefit the proton research program at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute will take place October 21, 2019 at the World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Florida.
May is brain tumor awareness month, and the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is a regional resource with radiation oncologists who specialize in treating brain tumors and other central nervous system tumors.
When Kalpana Nagraj and Prasanna Venkatesh learned that tumor remnants in their 10-year-old son Arjun’s brain showed signs of growing after 16 months of remission following surgery they were surprised.
The depth of experience and specialization at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in every department is a distinction that sets us apart from other proton therapy centers and radiation oncology practices in the region.
Over the past 12 years, the volume of published research about proton therapy has grown significantly, thanks in part to the clinical research program at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
Pediatric patient and her family organized a donation drive to collect art supplies and toys to help reduce anxiety and inspire creativity for patients and family members.
I like to think of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute employees as family members, and there are many of our family members who are behind the scenes helping to make the Institute run smoothly. Last week we unfortunately lost one of our most highly valued family members.
On November 15, 2018, my husband was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. I, of course, went online and this is one of the first sentences I saw: “Esophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide.” It was not a good day.
Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiotherapy that can deliver targeted radiation and reduce the impact of curative treatment on normal, healthy lungs and heart tissue and improve the quality of life and long-term survival of esophageal cancer patients.
“The Force” was with five-year-old Lila Everest as she rang Aud’s Chime March 21 signifying her successful mission to complete 30 proton therapy sessions for a brain tumor.
Brian Kernohan, a lieutenant with 15 years of experience at the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, was surrounded by an estimated 100 fellow firefighters and first responders.
The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is pleased to announce the addition of Christina Mershell as its business development coordinator.
Two New UF Studies Investigated the Use of Proton Therapy Among Patients With Locally-advanced, Non-small Cell Lung Cancer
The standard-of-care treatment for patients with locally-advanced, non-small cell lung cancer, or Stage 3 NSCLC, is concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy, including proton therapy, as a potentially less-toxic, yet effective, treatment option.
Each December, The Players Championship Lobby at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is transformed into the North Pole to help children who are on treatment, and their families, experience the joy of the holiday season.