Alumni Spotlight: Robert Davis

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Alumni Robert Davis
Friends and family who drove Robert Davis to his proton therapy appointments gathered last March as he rang Aud’s Chime after his last treatment.

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.”

Carleen Marianek, MSN, RN -- Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
Members of the “Pink Proton Posse” from left to right: Barbara Berges, RN, Carleen Marianek, MSN, RN, and Stephanie Saman

The local chapter of the American Cancer Society held its annual fundraising walk, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Oct. 13 and UF Health’s “Pink Proton Posse” organized by Carleen Marianek, MSN, RN, was among the top teams. Their donations will help the ACS in the Jacksonville area fund innovative breast cancer research, 24/7 information and support, and prevention and early detection initiatives. For example, the ACS provides breast cancer patients in need with transportation to and from their treatments and organizes the Look Good Feel Better program that arranges hair, makeup, wig and clothing makeovers for cancer patients. Funds will also go towards construction of the Hope Lodge being built in Jacksonville that will provide free, temporary housing for cancer patients and their caregivers who are from out of town.

Marianek is a long-time volunteer with the ACS and for the past five years has been volunteer chair of the volunteer board. She is a strong advocate for cancer patients’ interests at the Florida Legislature. In her work at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, she is a nurse case manager for patients being treated for metastatic cancer and cancers of the head and neck and eye. She said her volunteerism with the ACS is driven by her passion for her patients and by the memory of her mother who she lost seven years ago to breast cancer. She is determined to make a difference both for her patients and for all people facing cancer.

Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Brings Donations for Proton Therapy Research

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

The 14th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic took place Oct. 8 at the World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Fla., and was organized by co-chairs Judy Taylor Holland and Nancy Seely. The event is the signature fundraiser for the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s research program. Presenting sponsors were .decimal, IBA and Shepherd. A field of 110 golfers took part in the tournament held on the Slammer & Squire course.

The honorary chairman was Steve Spurrier, University of Florida Ambassador and Gator Great. He joined the sponsors for an evening reception on Oct. 7 at the Renaissance Hotel. The next morning at the beginning of the tournament he offered words of encouragement and thanks to players as they set off for a shotgun start. A silent and live auction and awards reception closed the tournament with Sam Kouvaris, noted sports media personality, as emcee.

With almost 98% of the patients at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute being treated on research protocols, it is generating evidence of the benefits of proton therapy. The support from the tournament is used to perform research that will change the way cancer treatment is handled in the United States and around the world.

  

  

Executive Director Message

 

StuartKlein.pngThe building addition that will house our new single-room proton therapy system has reached several construction milestones. We marked a capping off in May with the final concrete pour. Since then, the exterior walls have been installed and interior work is progressing. Within the next few months, we will receive delivery of the proton therapy system – the cyclotron and gantry. This technology will add to our existing array of proton therapy, conventional radiation therapy and imaging equipment, currently considered the most advanced radiation oncology facility in the Southeast U.S. In the hands of our expert physicians, physicists, nurses and radiation therapists, this advanced technology is used to offer patients the highest quality cancer care and the best chance for excellent results. Our stature as a leading proton therapy facility has never been stronger, and we look forward to continuing to serve the needs of cancer patients in our region and beyond.

 

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Second-Consecutive ACR Accreditation Earned

The American College of Radiology Seal

The American College of Radiology has awarded a three-year term of accreditation in radiation oncology to the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. This is the second consecutive accreditation awarded to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and is a distinction earned by facilities that meet or exceed national standards in radiation oncology.

Of the 27 proton therapy centers in the U.S., the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is one of 11, and the only one in Jacksonville, to earn the ACR seal of accreditation representing the highest level of quality and patient safety.

ACR reviewers described the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute as a “high-quality, well-staffed, well-organized facility and operation,” and commended it for its “clear documentation and high safety measures” as well as for following “guidelines for therapy decisions and practice.”

Nancy P. Mendenhall, M.D., medical director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and associate chair and a professor of radiation oncology at the UF College of Medicine, said the accreditation is a testament to the medical team’s commitment to excellence.

“We are a regional resource for proton therapy, and patients rely on us to deliver safe, effective cancer treatment,’’ she said. “It is an honor to earn this recognition from a panel of peers who are tasked with providing a rigorous, impartial review.”

The ACR is the nation’s oldest and most widely accepted radiation oncology accrediting body, with over 700 accredited sites and 30 years of accreditation experience. The ACR seal of accreditation is awarded only to facilities meeting specific practice guidelines and technical standards developed by ACR after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified radiation oncologists and medical physicists who are experts in the field. Patient care and treatment, patient safety, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures, and quality assurance programs are assessed. The findings are reported to the ACR Committee on Radiation Oncology Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report they can use for continuous practice improvement.

The ACR is a national professional organization serving more than 36,000 diagnostic/interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and medical physicists with programs focusing on the practice of medical imaging and radiation oncology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.

 

Randal Henderson, M.D., M.B.A. – An Expert Talks About Prostate Cancer and Proton Therapy

Bringing awareness to prostate cancer is the first step in early detection and effective treatment. Randal Henderson, M.D., M.B.A., associate medical director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and a professor of radiation oncology at the UF College of Medicine, is an expert in prostate cancer treatment. He was recently interviewed about the benefits of proton therapy in treating the disease. Dr. Henderson discusses the excellent patient outcomes reported in published studies and the new national clinical trial being led by the Institute that will compare the outcomes of patients treated with proton therapy or conventional radiation therapy. Watch this video to learn more.

 

Physicians and Physicist Added to Expert Proton Therapy Staff

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute welcomes two physicians and a physicist to its medical team.

 

Adam L. Holtzman, M.D.

Adam L. Holtzman, M.D.Dr. Holtzman is an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. While skilled in all external beam radiation modalities, he specializes in proton therapy for skull-based and central nervous system malignancies. He received his undergraduate, medical, and residency training from the University of Florida. An established researcher, his work has been published in multiple peer-reviewed medical journals and presented at international conferences. Dr. Holtzman has received multiple awards in recognition for his dedication to clinical care, compassion and research. He was honored as Best of American Society for Radiation Oncology 57th Annual Meeting, inducted into the Gold Humanism Honors Society, and received the Outstanding Resident Educator Award.

 

Raymond B. Mailhot, M.D., M.P.H.

Raymond B. Mailhot, M.D., M.P.H.Dr. Mailhot is an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. His areas of treatment and research include proton therapy for pediatric cancer and breast cancer. He completed his undergraduate and medical training at Washington University in St. Louis and post graduate training at Harvard University and New York University, where he served as chief resident. He has published multiple research articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and presented research at international medical conferences. His academic and professional honors include the J. Max Rukes Full Tuition Merit Scholarship, Washington University School of Medicine; Merit Scholarship, Harvard School of Public Health; Jonathan Mann Foreign Rotation Fellowship Award; and American Society of Clinical Oncology Conquer Cancer Fellowship Award. He serves on committee for the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

 

Mark Artz, Ph.D.

Mark Artz, Ph.D.Dr. Artz is an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he contributed to the development of superconducting cyclotrons and gantries for proton therapy. Most recently, as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee and medical physicist fellow at the Provision Proton Therapy Center, Knoxville, Dr. Artz was responsible for clinical commissioning and operation of IBA and ProNova Proton and Eleckta Photon, including treatment planning, quality assurance and clinical development. He also developed a CAMPEP Master of Science degree program in Medical Physics with the University of Tennessee College of Engineering.

 

Cruise Organized by Proton Alum

Next April, proton alumni are setting sail aboard a cruise liner in the Mediterranean, and you’re invited. Organized by Rose and George Rollins (alum 2018), it is meant as an informal reunion for proton alumni. According to the Rollinses, it’s a chance to celebrate successful treatment, relax and share how the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has impacted proton graduates’ lives post treatment.

“This cruise is a personal endeavor by three couples who bonded in treatment at the Proton Center and who want to continue that relationship,” said the Rollinses. “We also want to include other graduates who might be interested in this celebration cruise.”

The ship is Holland America’s Koningsdam, christened in 2016. Originating in Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, the nine-day, six-port Mediterranean cruise will visit Croatia, Greece and Italy.

The Rollinses are retired airline employees and have contacted Holland America’s Group Administration Department directly to set up the proton alumni group.

For more information, contact George and Rose Rollins at 678-907-9339 or geonrose@bellsouth.net.

 

Executive Director Message

 

StuartKlein.pngAs leaders in radiation oncology, the University of Florida had the vision to bring proton therapy to the region. Our medical director Nancy P. Mendenhall, M.D., was the radiation oncology department chair at the time and proton therapy was her answer to the big question: what can we do to improve patient care? In radiation oncology, improvement means giving the most radiation possible to achieve a cure while reducing, or eliminating, the amount of collateral damage to healthy tissue. With this goal in mind, our facility was developed as a regional resource for patient care and research. We stand as one of the most successful proton therapy centers in operation – one that emphasizes excellence in patient care and in academic medicine to bring about improvements in patient outcomes.

 

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Celebrating 12 Years of Proton Therapy Excellence

Celebrating 12 years of Proton Therapy Excellence

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute treated its first patient on August 14, 2006, becoming the fifth proton therapy center in the U.S. and the first in the Southeast. Established as an academic clinical treatment and research center, the Institute during its first 12 years has rapidly made a significant impact on patient care and proton therapy techniques used to treat cancer.

Pediatric patients have been a major focus since day one. It is now widely recognized that proton therapy is the standard of care for children needing radiation treatment for cancer. Because proton therapy is targeted, less radiation is given to the healthy tissues of children who are still growing and are more susceptible to side effects of radiation. The Institute has the largest pediatric proton therapy program in the world, treating about 25 to 30 children each day.

As a regional resource, the Institute has treated more than 7,700 patients since opening, including 1,600 children. Patients have come from the Jacksonville area, all 50 states and 32 countries for the advanced radiation treatment delivered by the renowned team of cancer experts at the University of Florida.

The Institute is active in clinical research, and 98 percent of patients participate in outcomes studies. This rigorous follow-up has resulted in more than 133 articles published in peer-reviewed medical journals. The evidence points to an important role for proton therapy in treating cancer and confirms it is effective, safe and reduces side effects for many types of cancer.

This year, the Institute is heading up a national, large-scale prostate cancer clinical trial that will compare proton therapy and standard radiation patient outcomes. Later this fall, the facility expansion project will reach a major milestone when the new cyclotron arrives. This addition, when complete, will mean more access to proton therapy for patients across the region for years to come.

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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.

 

Keep In Touch

It is easy to stay in touch with us online at floridaproton.org . Look at the top right corner of the homepage for Facebook , Twitter and YouTube icons, click and join us in the social media conversation. Also on the right side of the homepage there is a button for VTOC Patient Portal . Click here to open your secure account, view your records, complete clinical trial questionnaires and communicate with your nurse case manager.

 

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.