The Chattanooga Mocs may have won an exciting upset over the University of Tennessee in the Volunteers basketball season opener on Nov. 11, but what Mocs assistant coach Peter Gash celebrates even more is his wife Alexa’s successful completion of treatment for throat cancer.
The Gashes traveled to Knoxville each day for seven weeks so Alexa, 29, could receive proton therapy as the two continued to juggle a busy coaching schedule and life with their 17-month-old daughter after doctors found a 4.5 cm tumor on the left side of her throat in July.
Peter began researching proton therapy on the advice of a family physician, who had treated her father for throat cancer several years prior. Because of Alexa’s age, the couple wanted to find a treatment that would be most effective but also spare her from unwanted long-term side effects. With conventional radiation, she risked permanent damage to her salivary glands, taste buds and teeth as well as the potential need for a feeding tube during and post-treatment.
After calling numerous proton therapy centers across the country, the couple scheduled a consult with Provision, just an hour and a half drive away.
“Every time we called we talked to a real person,” Peter Gash said. “And we were blown away by the level of attention and the level of care Provision staff showed us just within the first hour of meeting them.”
After seeing her father suffer serious and painful side effects from conventional radiation, Alexa was pleased to experience only mild soreness and fatigue with proton therapy—side effects that had begun to subside in the later weeks of treatment.
Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat various forms of cancer. Provision offers the most advanced form of proton therapy through pencil beam scanning, which delivers focused, high intensity doses of radiation to the cancer site while largely sparing surrounding healthy tissues and organs. This results in fewer immediate side effects and decreases long-term risk of secondary cancer due to radiation exposure.
“The best thing about proton therapy was my wife was able to maintain her normal life while she was going through this,” Peter Gash said.
The couple also appreciated the atmosphere of Provision, with its large, sunlit lobby, private treatment rooms and personalized care.
“Half the time I would forget I was here for cancer treatment,” Alexa Gash said. “You are able focus on the process of getting better and less on the fact that you have cancer.”
To show his appreciation for Provision and support of proton therapy, look closely at Peter’s lapel during basketball games and you’ll see that in place of the Chattanooga Mocs pin, he now wears the Provision logo.
“I am definitely a fan,” he said.