David Newby – A life well lived

David Newby

For those who have spent time at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute over the past six years, whether it be for treatment, follow-up visits, Wednesday luncheons, special events or fundraisers, it is very likely they had the pleasure of meeting David Newby and his wife, Judy. A former patient and prostate cancer survivor, David was a regular volunteer spending time every week greeting people and helping with various activities. His pleasant personality and sense of humor was contagious to everyone he met. It is with saddened hearts that we share David Newby passed away early in February at age 74.

David was an exceptional man and had an uncanny ability to find happiness in his daily activities. A lifelong Boy Scout, David enjoyed working with youth. His career was spent in the classroom as a junior high math teacher and a track, basketball and football coach.

Judy Newby, David’s wife of 54 years, remembers him as an outgoing and patient man. He was someone who could do and learn anything he set his mind to and was always willing to lend a helping hand.

In his later years, David’s diagnosis of prostate cancer led the couple back to the Jacksonville area. After researching their options and discussing with a local Panama City orthopedic doctor, who was also a former patient of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, they decided proton therapy was the best course of action because of the precise nature of treatment and low risk of side effects.

David completed his proton therapy in early 2013. Later that year, he and Judy moved back to Jacksonville, Fla., permanently. David made the decision to dedicate himself to being a part of the nurturing health care environment at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

“We were so impressed with the friendliness and the atmosphere during his treatments. It was unlike anything we had experienced at a health care facility and really made an impact on us. The Institute made a difficult time much better and easier than it could have been and he wanted to be a part of that for other people,” said Judy. “Volunteering was so fulfilling and always the highlight of our week. It was a way we could give back and thank them for all they’ve done for us. We also got a whole lot in return from the people we met along the way.”

We are truly grateful for David and Judy’s dedication to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. They have impacted hundreds of lives over the years with compassion, encouragement and even a joke or two. David will truly be missed, and we hope to keep his legacy going strong by continuing to provide the level of hospitality and kindness that he gave to all.

Your Perspective Matters

Your experience at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is very important to us. During and after treatment, we want to know how you feel about the level of attention, compassion and care you receive. Your opinions shared in the post-treatment survey contribute to our continuous improvement for the good of our patients. We take pride that consistently throughout our nearly 15 years as a cancer treatment center, 99% of patients are very satisfied with the cancer care they received and 98% of patients say they would recommend us to someone they know.

Google ReviewsMany patients ask us how they can spread the word about proton therapy. One simple but very effective way is to leave a review on Google https://bit.ly/3pWKbuW. Another way is to add your name to our list of patient ambassadors who agree to serve as a reference when people are researching their treatment options. If your civic organization, club or support group is looking for a guest speaker at an upcoming meeting, let them know about our speakers’ bureau.

For additional information about being a patient ambassador or setting up a guest speaker, please contact Bradlee Robbert, Director of Operations, at (904) 588-1251.

Brittany Smith Legacy Honored

Brittany SmithThanks to the generosity of proton advocates Stan and Anne Land, we are able to honor the life and service of Brittany Smith, radiation therapist, with the creation of the Brittany Smith Professional Development Fund. Mr. and Mrs. Land thoughtfully and generously established the fund as a way of honoring the professionalism and dedication Brittany Smith brought daily to her job at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. The fund will help support ongoing training and professional development activities of the radiation therapist team.

For additional information regarding this fund, please contact Kathy Murray, Director of Development, at (904) 588-1519.

Click here to read more about Brittany Smith’s life.

Santa and Mrs. Claus Make Extraordinary Gift

While the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 prevented their customary visit to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, “Santa” Joe McGee and “Mrs. Claus” Dawn McGee were determined to continue their mission to raise funds for children being treated for cancer. They adapted their community event appearances to safely hear children’s Christmas wishes. We are grateful for the joyful and generous spirit of Santa Joe and Mrs. Claus Dawn and their extraordinary gifts to the UFPTI for the Children Fund, which supports various pediatric programs and child life activities to help make treatment easier for even the youngest of patients.

Executive Director Message


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. When these cancers are detected early, treatments like proton therapy lead to better outcomes for patients. During the pandemic, fewer people are having these important cancer screenings, which can delay diagnoses and lead to less favorable prognoses.

Likewise, delaying treatment after receiving a cancer diagnosis can limit the chance for effective treatment. Cancer won’t wait for COVID-19 to go away, and neither should you. At the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, we have enhanced safety precautions in place following the CDC, ASTRO and UF Health COVID-19 guidelines.

The best method to stop the devastating effects of cancer is prevention. The next best method is proton therapy.

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Cancer Won’t Wait

The American Cancer Society, or ACS, is urging people not to delay cancer screening. According to a recent report on Action News Jax, the ACS says that 66% of Americans made the choice to delay or skip cancer screenings in 2020 out of anxiety about the coronavirus. Carleen Marianek, MSN, RN, interim director of nursing at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, is on the board of the local ACS and was interviewed about the need for cancer prevention and treatment and the safety protocols in place to limit the risk of coronavirus exposure.  >> Watch the report here

Interview with Carleen Marianek, MSN, RN

Over the Moon

Heather Oakley, LCSW, OSW-CHeather Oakley, LCSW, OSW-C, director of social services and pediatric oncology social worker at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, received a 2020 Over the Moon Award from Dreams Come True, a Jacksonville, Fla., nonprofit dedicated to granting the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses.

The prestigious award recognizes medical professionals and community partners who consistently go above and beyond for the children served by Dreams Come True. In their announcement the organization said, “Heather’s welcoming smile, warm demeanor, and drive make her such an asset to the community. She works tirelessly coordinating local resources to ensure each family is supported to the fullest during their journey.” We at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute couldn’t agree more. Congratulations, Heather.

Empty, Drink & Be Merry

Empty, Drink and Be Merry graphicAn annual grassroots gathering of proton alumni (a.k.a. patients) had its virtual debut this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Organized and hosted by Ron Nelson, 2011 alum and author of the book Protons versus Prostate Cancer: Exposed and blog afterproton.com, with his wife Lucy and dog Baxter, the Zoom format meant the party could go on, physically distanced.

The tradition started in 2013 when 10 proton alumni couples who lived nearby were invited to a party at Ron and Lucy’s home in South Carolina. It was a chance to reconnect, celebrate and renew the camaraderie they experienced while on treatment at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Since then, the party has grown each year to more than 30 couples from four states and includes people who were treated with protons at other centers, survivors of prostate cancer and other cancers, and guests who are considering cancer treatment with proton therapy.

The eighth annual Empty, Drink & Be Merry celebration was a virtual meetup on Oct. 24 with 40 logins to the party. Ron said in a follow-up email that nearly 40% of participants were “first-time party people” and included people from five states: South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. “I really enjoyed seeing everyone and meeting some new members of our proton family. Hopefully we can all share hugs and handshakes in person next fall,” he said.

‘Tis the Season

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Giving

A Special Message from Director of Development Kathy Murray

Many of you ask, “How can I help?” Good news—even if you aren’t in Jacksonville, you can help UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in a variety of ways. Whether you spread the word about the compassionate care you received, participate in many of our ongoing research protocols or provide philanthropic support, you are helping us defeat cancer.

It is my privilege to connect our patients and friends with opportunities for support. No matter the gift amount, your support matters. I am at your service at Proton, or available by telephone at (904) 588-1519.

Did you know…?

CARES Act Considerations

  • This fall is an especially interesting season with the unique philanthropic opportunities created by the CARES Act. You may be able to make a larger gift before December 31, 2020, and enjoy a generous deduction. Please consider this one-time option.

Gifts from Retirement Accounts

  • As in other years, if you are 70.5 years of age or greater, you are also able to give to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute directly from your retirement account. While you won’t receive a deduction for the gift, you also won’t pay taxes on the amount you withdraw. If you have appreciated securities in your retirement account, this is a wonderful way to support us while reducing your tax bill.

Appreciated Assets

  • While the stock market has been a wild ride, there is no doubt that many are fortunate to have highly appreciated assets as part of their portfolio. Whether you have real estate that has appreciated, stocks or other assets, it may be advantageous for you to gift all or some of the asset to us.

Gifts may be directed to a fund of your choice. Our Patient Experience Enhancement Fund is very popular as it provides direct benefit to our patients and their experience with us. We also have a research fund, administered by Dr. Mendenhall. Through research we are able to improve the care we deliver to our patients. Our Annual Fund (where the need is greatest) is our most popular fund and is flexible enough to allow us to be responsive to emergencies and unique situations.

We are here to help. The increased costs of caring for patients, along with restrictions surrounding travel, have only added to the complexity of providing care. While we have implemented many changes with safety in mind, one thing remains constant: providing the most technologically advanced care for our patients when they need it most. I look forward to meeting you virtually and helping you find the most advantageous way to support us as we fight cancer and COVID-19.

Please do not hesitate to introduce yourself to me. I welcome your thoughts and ideas. Together, we can make a difference. I am available by email at kmurray@floridaproton.org or by calling (904) 588-1519.

In Memoriam – Brittany Smith

We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear colleague Brittany Smith who passed away Oct. 3, 2020. She was a lead radiation therapist who served her patients with compassion and advanced the profession with distinction. We were honored to know her and will always treasure the legacy of love and friendship that she shared with everyone she met. Read more about her life here.


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.


Keep In Touch

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Knowing how you are feeling during and after treatment is essential to providing you the best care possible and contributes to the care of future patients.