Monthly Archives

September 2015

Provision featured in new destination guide

By | Cancer, Clinical Care, Culture of Care, East Tennessee, Knoxville, Patient Experience, Patient Hospitality, Tennessee, Uncategorized | No Comments

Creating the best patient experience has always been a Provision priority, and now there’s a brand new resource that helps do just that.

Introducing the Provision Healthcare Health & Wellness Destination Guide, an information directory for patients and prospective patients who want to learn more about Provision, proton therapy and available activities and amenities in Knoxville and the surrounding region.

“The Destination Guide offers a glimpse of what is available at Provision in the way of treatment and care and also what to do during non-clinical time,” says Nancy Howard, Provision vice president of global medical tourism. “This area is rich in natural and cultural resources, making a patient’s treatment stay a very peaceful and healing retreat.”

The guide comes out of Provision’s growing focus on medical tourism, as the company takes proton therapy across the country and around the world. Produced in partnership with the Medical Tourism Association, the guide will be officially debuted this weekend at the World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress in Orlando.

Nearly 30 percent of Provision’s patients live 90 miles or more away from the center, which for most means finding accommodations during their four-to-eight-week stay for proton therapy treatment. And, 21 months into its operation, the Provision Center for Proton Therapy has treated seven international patients.

Those numbers are set to grow as Provision works with medical tourism facilitators around the world to educate doctors about the promise of proton therapy and offer services to those who don’t have local access. Read More

Eddie Check aims to honor a dad and save lives

By | News | No Comments

Kevin Kirkland was a high school senior on the football practice field when he learned his father, Eddie, had been diagnosed with late-stage prostate cancer. Four years later, his dad died from the disease. Kirkland doesn’t want anyone else to go through that experience.

Eddie Kirkland’s diagnosis was particularly difficult for Kevin because his mother had died a year before from breast cancer. Breast cancer was just gaining the public’s attention, while prostate cancer lurked in the shadows.

“Back in 1972, you didn’t hear people talk about prostate health, you didn’t hear people talk about PSA tests because there were no PSA tests,” he says. “I always said one day I wanted to do something that impacted men’s health like breast cancer awareness has impacted women’s health.”

More than 30 years later, Eddie Check was born. The program pairs free PSA tests for men with a Medic blood drive. The fi rst event in 2004 had  one Medic bus and did 50 PSA tests and collected 50 units of blood. At its beginnings, the initiative was called the Eddie Kirkland Memorial Blood Drive and Free PSA Testing Event Radio talk show host Phil Williams said ‘come get your Eddie Check’ on the air one year and the name stuck. The event is coordinated by Nisus Corp., where Kirkland now serves as president and CEO.

A year later, there was a second event, expanded to a second location. This year, there will be Eddie Check drives in 10 locations throughout eight East Tennessee counties. The initiative involves live radio shows on location  with partners including News Talk 98.7, WIVK and WNML and an annual blood drive contest with football fans at the University of Florida. Last year, the program collected 1,200 units of blood with more than 1,000 PSA tests conducted.

“All of a sudden it really started gaining its own strength and its own personality,” Kirkland says. “We’ve had tremendous support from the hospital community over the years. And then when Provision Center for Proton Therapy opened, they became our medical sponsor, and they’ve been an absolutely wonderful advocate and partner. And the Provision CARES Foundation now pays for all of the PSA tests.”

The event allows men, many of whom are hesitant to set up an annual physical exam, to get the PSA test for free while also performing a community service.

“Men don’t really like to go to the doctor, let’s just face it, they don’t,” Kirkland says. “With Eddie Check they can just stop by and get a free PSA test.”

For Kevin Wathen of Maryville, getting a PSA test through Eddie Check revealed what a recent trip to his doctor had not: an elevated PSA level. A follow-up biopsy with a urologist revealed that nine of the 12 samples tested positive for cancer.

“There were no symptoms to tell me there was a problem,” Wathen says. “If I hadn’t had the test done I wouldn’t have given it any thought.”

As a result of Eddie Check, Wathen learned of his diagnosis and became an early patient at Provision Center for Proton Therapy. There, his prostate cancer was treated with protons, a type of radiation that pinpoints a tumor and spares much of the healthy tissue around it. This reduces side effects such as incontinence and impotency as well as discomfort during the time of treatment. Wathen was one of the fi rst to receive hypofractionated proton therapy treatments at the center, a shortened, more intense course that allows therapy duration to be cut in half.

“It still doesn’t feel like I ever had cancer,” he says.

Wathen says he would recommend men of all ages taking advantage of the free annual PSA test, at least to establish a baseline for further testing.

“Especially with Eddie Check being available at no charge,” Wathen says. “I’d do it every year.”

As Eddie Check has grown and expanded, Kirkland says more men locally are becoming familiar with the risk of prostate cancer and how to keep tabs on their health. After 11 years of the Eddie Check program, men often approach him to discuss early detection.

“I think the education and the promotion we put out for prostate health have really resonated,” he says, adding that other programs coordinated by local hospitals and advocacy organizations have provided a boost to the most common of men’s cancers. “I think all of that has really improved education on prostate health. It has made us proud to be a small part of that.”

Disparity exists in diagnosis, death rates from common cancers

By | Breast Cancer, Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Screening, Tennessee, Uncategorized | No Comments

Cancer doesn’t play fair to begin with, and if you’re African American the risk of getting and/or dying from the disease is even greater.

While overall risk of both developing and dying from all types of cancer is the same for African Americans as white Americans, the most common types are particularly bad actors for black patients.

For example, prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men, but one in five African Americans are diagnosed with it, compared to one in six white men, and one in 22 blacks will die compared to one in 39 whites. This makes African American men the most likely group in the world to die from this very curable type of cancer.

For women, African Americans are both more likely to be diagnosed with and die from breast cancer then whites, with particularly stark difference in Tennessee. Here, 33 black women per 100,000 die from breast cancer compared to just shy of 22 per 100,000 for white women, making its death rate one of the highest in the country.

The differences were once much greater, and the five-year survival rate from cancer for African Americans has gone up from 27 percent in 1960-1963 to 60 percent in 2002-2008. However, that lags overall survival rates, with 69 percent of whites living five years or more beyond a cancer diagnosis.

The reasons why aren’t completely clear. Lack of adequate screening may be a problem. For instance, although approximately the same percentage of black and white women get mammograms, more African Americans are diagnosed with later stage cancer—indicating perhaps too long a lag time between tests or improper follow-up of suspicious results.

But biological differences could also account for higher mortality rates among blacks. Read More

Get Checked! Free PSA Tests Offered at Eddie Check

By | Cancer, East Tennessee, Events, Knoxville, Prostate Cancer, Proton Therapy, Screening, Survivors, Tennessee, Uncategorized | No Comments

When Eddie Kirkland found out he had prostate cancer, it was too late to do anything about it. He died four years later.

That was 1976, and little was known about the risks of prostate cancer—the leading type of cancer in men. But that’s changed, locally thanks in part to an event called Eddie Check, which Kirkland’s son Kevin founded more than 30 years later in his honor.

5-IMG_3437

Eddie Kirkland, Staff Sergeant, Marines

“Back in 1972, you didn’t hear people talk about prostate health, you didn’t hear people talk about PSA tests because there were no PSA tests at that time,” he says. “I always said one day I wanted to do something that impacted men’s health like breast cancer awareness has impacted women’s health.”

Eddie Check pairs free PSA tests for men with a Medic blood drive and will be held Sept. 17 & 18 in locations throughout Knox, Anderson, Scott, Hamblen, Cocke, Blount, Roane and McMinn counties. Last year, the program collected more 1,200 units of blood and conducted more than 1,000 PSA tests. Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the primary medical sponsor for the event, and the Provision CARES Foundation pays for the PSA tests.

For Kevin Wathen of Maryville, getting a PSA test through EddieCheck revealed what a recent trip to his doctor had not: an elevated PSA level. A follow-up biopsy with a urologist in which nine of the 12 samples tested positive for cancer.

“There were no symptoms to tell me there was a problem,” Wathen says. “If I hadn’t had the test done I wouldn’t have given it any thought.”

As a result of EddieCheck, Wathen learned of his diagnosis and became an early patient at Provision Center for Proton Therapy. There, his prostate cancer was treated with protons, a type of radiation that pinpoints a tumor and spares much of the healthy tissue around it. This reduces side effects such as incontinence and impotency as well as discomfort during the time of treatment.

“It still doesn’t feel like I ever had cancer,” Wathen says.

As EddieCheck has grown and expanded, Kirkland says more men locally are becoming familiar with the risk of prostate cancer and how to keep tabs on their health.

“I think the education and the promotion we put out for prostate health have really resonated,” he says, adding that other programs coordinated by local hospitals and advocacy organizations have provided a boost to the most common of men’s cancers. “I think all of that has really improved education on prostate health. It has made us proud to be a small part of that.”

ProtonStories: Earl Malpass

By | Alaska, Cancer, Culture of Care, Dr. Marcio Fagundes, Knoxville, Patient Experience, Patient Hospitality, Patient Stories, Prostate Cancer, Proton Therapy, Uncategorized | No Comments

For Earl Malpass, cancer treatment at Provision Center for Proton Therapy was something of a vacation

The pastor and mission pilot has lived in Alaska for 15 years, the past three of which he has spent in Manley Hot Springs where he and his wife, Lynn, live without running water through the long arctic winters.

“We go through 11-15 cords of wood in the winter,” Malpass says. “We just got electricity, and life has gotten a little easier.”

The communities he serves as pilot and director of Mission Air Care, a ministry of Baptist Missions to Forgotten Peoples based out of Jacksonville, Fla., are even more remote. The purpose of the ministry is to fly mission supplies to village outposts unreachable by roads.

Initially, the Malpasses lived in Fairbanks but relocated to Manley Hot Springs, selling their house and buying a partially-built cabin, to support the start of a new church there.

Earl_Malpass_1

Earl Malpass

Malpass discovered he had prostate cancer when his PSA rose sharply, and he traveled to the lower 48 to seek medical care. He consulted a couple of cancer treatment centers, including one with proton therapy capabilities—but poor customer service, he says— before discovering Provision. Read More

Provision | Scott Hamilton at Tedx KC

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Provision | Scott Hamilton at Tedx KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – He’s gone for gold and been the go-to in figure skating commentary, but now Olympian Scott Hamilton is trading in his ice skates for center stage.

“This technology right now needs a friend, a public friend that is going to stand up and talk about it,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton is a cancer survivor turned proton therapy advocate. In fact, he’s so passionate about the lifesaving cancer treatment that it’ll be what he talks about at his TEDxKC talk  Saturday.

WATCH: See Hamilton and 10 other speakers live at 5:30 p.m. Sat., Aug. 28

“When I’m doing a TED talk on a very scientific discussion, it’s kind of like I better stay in my lane here,” Hamilton joked. “Don’t wander off the path, don’t spend any time in the weeds; just stay on the path and go from A to B.”

In its seventh year, Kansas City’s TEDx is the largest in the country. Mike Lundgren, the creator of TEDxKC, said that’s for good reason.

“There’s a bit of a Renaissance that’s been going on here for a couple of years with arts and technology,” said Lundgren. “It’s a point of pride for Kansas City to have this thing that’s all about ideas and innovation, technology, some of the greatest things that are happening in the world. One of the largest events that happens in the world happened right here in Kansas City.”

And while the topics are as varied as the speakers, Lundgren said nearly everyone who attends leaves with new ideas that spark conversations.

“It’s the world’s doers and thinkers all coming together to talk about the things they are working on,” said Lundgren. “That’s really what TED is all about. It makes the world a little bit better place.”

The TEDxKC event in Kansas City is completely sold out, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Watch it live at TEDxKC.org .