Monthly Archives

June 2014

Richard Patton: Proton Therapy Patient Story – Part 1

By | Patient Experience, Prostate Cancer, Proton Therapy, Stories, Uncategorized | No Comments

Former Provision Center for Proton Therapy patient Richard Patton tells his proton therapy story, in his own words . . .

My journey to proton therapy probably started like a lot of people that choose this type of treatment. I did my due diligence and researched all available treatments to try and find the one that I thought would be best for me. I searched the internet, read tons of material and even spoke with other survivors. I even met with a team of doctors at a top University hospital which is rated as one of the top ten cancer treatment centers in the United States. I must say they did have an impressive facility with a large glass fronted building and a lobby/atrium with lavish furnishings. A string quartet was playing in the mezzanine and a pianist was busy on the main floor.

What I soon found out, however, was the doctors there pretty much pushed their own area of expertise which was primarily surgery and rounds of conventional radiation therapy, hormone therapy, etc… I left there for the trip back home feeling sad and alone with thoughts of treatments resulting in wearing adult diapers or being nauseated for weeks on end from radiation therapy….and what about hormone therapy? Would I start growing breasts and shopping uncontrollably? Obviously more research was required. At that point I had pretty much written off proton therapy because I just couldn’t see me spending weeks in a strange place all by myself and going through the treatments too.

Shortly thereafter, a minor miracle happened. My cousin who lives in Knoxville and works in the medical field told my parents about the new Provision Center for Proton Therapy and suggested I consider it for my treatment. I searched the website and discovered the center was located just about a mile from my parent’s home! I liked the idea of a “radiation vacation” but all indications were that it wasn’t scheduled to open until January 2014 and I had been diagnosed in September 2013. I was really disappointed. I didn’t think I could wait that long because like most people I assumed that once you are diagnosed with cancer the next step is to get it out ASAP. But the University surgeon had told me in early October they wouldn’t be able to operate on me until about mid-December as they like to give the prostate time to heal from the biopsy to lessen the chance of possible infection. That was just another month before theProvision Center was scheduled to open, so I thought this just may work out.

I also discovered that prostate cancer can be a slow growing form of cancer and that many people live with it and employ the watchful waiting technique, so I decided another month wouldn’t really make a big difference.  Things were starting to come together!  I first contacted the Provision Center around the middle of October and spoke with Kathleen Steele and started the process. I received the necessary paper work and Robert J. Marckini’s book, “You Can Beat Prostate Cancer.” I read the book continuously after work and finished it on the second day. I was really getting psyched. I was home for the holidays my parents and I took a tour of the facility. My mother along with the rest of my family were still struggling to come to terms with the fact that my older brother had just passed away suddenly a week earlier. My family was encouraged by the center and were all very hopeful that I would get better.

I came home for a couple of weeks around Christmas and during the first week I had my preliminary work done such as the MRI and placing of the fiducial markers. I joked with the family that no one could say I was worthless anymore because with the gold markers and a gold filling in one of my teeth I was at least worth a few bucks. Looking back I would say that the preliminary work was probably the worst part of the whole experience. I will never forget the kindness that was extended to me by the people at the center. I especially remember Rebecca Thomas, Nurse Manager, holding my hand for the marker placement. That small act of kindness still stands out in my mind. I found out that Zach Dutton, Radiation Therapist, has “the hands of an angel.” I really liked the staff and looked forward to seeing them despite the circumstances. We had a few laughs too, like the time the gown I was given one day looked like it was made for a child and the therapists really liked my “mini-skirt.” One of the girls said she had seen me in a gown so often she probably wouldn’t recognize me if we met on the street. I really miss everyone at Provision and I truly feel like I left a part of myself there too.

I am beginning to miss East Tennessee after being home for so long and I am looking to finding work there. Don’t be surprised if you see me around the water cooler one day. Provision is a place with such great people who really make a difference. I will definitely return for a visit one way or another. My health condition is improving each week and the “plumbing” is working pretty well so I hope to be back to normal soon. I can honestly say that my time with Provision was a life changing experience and I think about it every day. When I think about the day I walked out of my last treatment and everyone was there waiting for me and applauding, I get choked up every time. The real applause belongs to the staff at Provision Center for Proton Therapy and the fine work they do there. I am eternally grateful.

Mr. Patton’s story does not end here . . . look for Part 2 of his inspirational story next week.

Elizabeth Vanzo is the Hospitality Manager at Provision Center for Proton Therapy.


Provision Team Raises More Than $9,000 for 2014 Relay For Life

By | Culture of Care, East Tennessee, Events, Uncategorized | No Comments

Keep calm and Relay on, as they say! The Provision Cares Foundation team raised more than $9,000 at the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life on Friday, June 13, 2014, at the World’s Fair Park.

The Provision team has worked year-round to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s mission of creating more birthdays for cancer survivors. We have baked brownies, cooked breakfast, washed cars, eaten Petro’s-style chili for lunch and worn jeans on Fridays to raise money for this great cause. We pitched a tent, cooked up ribs, had a baked potato bar and strawberry short cakes. We also had a silent auction to raise additional funds.

The event kicked off with the Opening Ceremony where cancer survivors take the first lap around the walkway and receive special recognition and a very warm welcome. The event continued with live entertainment and great food available throughout the evening. Provision has been a major sponsor and the top fundraising team for this event since joining the Relay For Life of Metro Knoxville in 2010. We have raised more than $80,000! Come and join us for future events and let’s grow that number to $100,000!  Special thanks goes to Ashley Teeters, Chili’s, Trader Joe’s, Costco and PetSafe for their generous donations.

Kathleen Steele is the Patient Services Coordinator at Provision Center for Proton Therapy.

International Patients Travel to Knoxville for Proton Therapy Treatments

By | Culture of Care, Patient Experience, Patient Hospitality, Proton Therapy, Uncategorized | No Comments

With less than 50 proton therapy centers in the world, Provision Center for Proton Therapy in Knoxville, Tennessee, serves as local, national and international host to patients from all corners of the globe that need proton therapy. Provision takes special care of all patients through our Culture of Care initiatives that respect the dignity of every person. We work diligently to know the needs of our patients and make their stay as comfortable as possible. We know that patients who make Knoxville their home away from home during treatment have different needs than those who are local. Provision has continued to grow in the number and diversity of patients we treat, not just in disease site, but also in nationality!

We are privileged to treat our very first international patient in this month! We welcome all nationalities and cultures to the Provision Center for Proton Therapy, as the Knoxville community is an “International Ready” community, and can provide full support of our patient’s experience. Understanding the needs of our international patients and exceeding their expectations is our distinguishing feature among other medical providers. We place great value on the patient experience and we are ready to serve the needs of all patients.


Nancy Howard is Vice President of Patient Services and the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation.

ASTRO Releases Proton Therapy Insurance Coverage Policy

By | Clinical Care, Patient Experience, Proton Therapy, Stories, Uncategorized | No Comments

The premier radiation oncology society in the world, the American Society for Radiation Oncologists (ASTRO), has issued a new Model Policy for proton beam therapy (PBT) that details which cancer diagnoses meet ASTRO’s evidence-based standards and should be covered by private insurers and Medicare.  This is a very significant and welcome development that will help us gain insurance coverage for patients that require proton therapy.

All patients at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy are registered on a multi-institutional registry.  ASTRO stated in their new policy “All indications are suitable for Coverage with Evidence Development (CED).  Proton therapy patients should be covered by the insurance carrier as long as the patient is enrolled in either an IRB-approved clinical trial or in a multi-institutional patient registry.  At this time, no indications are deemed inappropriate for CED.”

Developed by leading radiation oncologists and medical physicists, including significant input from expert representatives in proton therapy, this Model Policy supports PBT coverage for appropriate patients and identifies areas where coverage with evidence development and further research are needed.  ASTRO Model Policies are developed to communicate what ASTRO believes are correct insurance coverage policies for radiation oncology.

ASTRO went on to state:  PBT is neither a new nor an experimental technology for treating cancer with radiation. It utilizes proton radiation particles to deliver highly conformal radiation therapy to a specific tumor target area while giving a much lower dose to the normal tissues in the proton beam’s path of entry and exit. PBT’s reduced radiation dose to healthy tissues is attractive because it can reduce side effects for patients, which potentially increases their quality of life.

“Proton beam therapy (PBT) is demonstrating promise in our continuing efforts to improve survival and cure rates for cancer patients while reducing side effects,” said Colleen A.F. Lawton, MD, FASTRO, chair of ASTRO’s Board of Directors. “As the leading experts in radiation oncology, it is important for ASTRO to provide balanced, evidence-based guidance to payers that ensures access to PBT for cancer patients while being judicious stewards of our nation’s and our patients’ financial resources.”

This Model Policy recommends two coverage groups for PBT: 1) patients with specific diagnoses for which PBT has been proven to be effective; and 2) patients with cancer diagnoses where evidence of effectiveness of PBT is still emerging, and therefore coverage with evidence development is recommended for patients if they are enrolled in clinical trials or a multi-institutional registry to collect data and inform consensus on the role of proton therapy.

ASTRO Model Policies are developed to communicate what ASTRO believes are correct coverage policies for radiation oncology. The ASTRO Model Policies do not serve as clinical guidelines, and they are subject to periodic review and revision. The ASTRO Model Policies may be reproduced and distributed, without modification, for noncommercial purposes. ASTRO has previously issued Model Policies on coverage for brachytherapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), and they are available online at

The PBT Model Policy was approved by ASTRO’s Board of Directors on May 20, 2014, and is available online at

ASTRO is the premier radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who are physicians, nurses, biologists, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals that specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through professional education and training, support for clinical practice and health policy standards, advancement of science and research, and advocacy.