Case Studies from WellSpring Cancer Center
"I refused to let cancer beat me"
Harvey Siegel, 74, Spring Hill
To beat prostate cancer and put it behind me.
Why I did it:
At the time I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I had just lost my wife to cancer. Ultimately, I wanted to live and I told myself that I refused to let cancer beat me. When I was first diagnosed, my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level was 11, seven higher than the normal range. My first thought upon diagnosis was that I was going to get in, take care of it and put it behind me.
I chose the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System because I previously had received treatment through that system. In 2003, I learned I had a meningioma behind my eye that was pressing on my optic nerve. I knew something needed to be done quickly, but all the options I was given involved surgically removing the tumor. I wasn't comfortable with the idea of being cut open. I just couldn't believe we didn't have the technology to approach it in a way that wasn't so invasive.
So when I learned about CyberKnife and how it targets only the affected cells and protects surrounding healthy tissue, it was an option I wanted to pursue. The treatment delivers beams of high-dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy. It worked for my eye, so when I was told I had prostate cancer, it seemed the logical option for me. I didn't want prostate seeds implanted, and having my prostate removed was out of the question. The after-effects would have been too much for me.
How I did it:
Because I wanted a noninvasive treatment for my prostate cancer, I did a lot of research on my own. Since I was a candidate for CyberKnife with the meningioma, I thought I also might be a candidate for prostate cancer treatment. I went online and was referred to Dr. Debra Freeman at CyberKnife Centers of Tampa Bay. She came highly recommended. I visited the center, and she and I sat down to discuss my case. I underwent an MRI to ensure that I was a candidate for the procedure, and I was.
I went through the procedure of having gold markers inserted, which tell the CyberKnife system where
to target the radiation. Dr. Freeman joked with me that I had the most expensive prostate in the United States because I had four 14 carat gold markers placed in it. Once the markers were in place, I started my radiation treatment.
I underwent five 45 minute treatments with a total treatment time of just under four hours to combat my prostate cancer. I started my treatments in December 2009 and completed my final session in February 2010. It was a quick treatment with almost no side effects.
But more importantly, it was one that worked. Eight weeks after the start of my treatment, my PSA level had already dropped to 4.3, an almost normal level. Sixteen weeks after, it was down to 0.5 one that has been maintained since.
I can't say I really had any hurdles. I addressed the cancer immediately in order to have it treated. CyberKnife was a quick, painless treatment option that caused very few side effects. And because Dr. Freeman informed me and let me know what side effects to expect. Everything she said was going to happen, happened. I had headaches for about a week and trouble urinating, but that was the worst of it.
I'd recommend that anyone facing a cancer diagnosis at least find out if they're a candidate for CyberKnife. Go for it. Their record is impeccable and it's truly a procedure that works.