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David's Brain Cancer Journey

David's Brain Cancer Journey

David is an explorer. As a lover of nature, he spends every moment he can outside: hiking, climbing, kayaking, you name it. He particularly enjoys mountain climbing, referring to himself as a ‘mountaineer.’ “I’m a big outdoors person, and especially like to mountain climb. I’ve climbed Mt. Rainier five times, but I really prefer to climb the lesser-known peaks.”

However, after being diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011, David knew he had to put away his climbing gear for a while. Although he had a “favorable diagnosis,” as David put it, chemotherapy would prohibit his level of activity for some time. “The chemo really beat me down, especially for being such an active person. That was tough.”

David’s doctors recommended both chemotherapy and radiation. He refused to do standard photon (X-ray) radiation, against his doctor’s recommendations, for fear of long term side effects on his brain. At the time, there weren’t any proton therapy centers in Seattle - and flying to California or Texas wasn’t in the cards. After twelve months of chemotherapy, he found out that the tumor had stabilized; until 2015 when the tumor changed and would require further treatment. That’s when he learned about the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy Center.

“I knew I didn’t want to go through chemo again, so once I learned about the new proton therapy center in Seattle, I decided to investigate,” said David. For brain tumors, proton therapy is often the best solution. The precision of the beam reduces radiation exposure to the nearby healthy tissue, which is important in protecting the rest of the brain.

David went through six weeks of daily proton therapy treatments, and the time spent at the Center was a positive experience. “Every day during my lunchbreak, I’d drive to the Center for treatment. Everyone was great - nice, caring and almost always on time. Compared to chemo, it was a piece of cake.”

Looking back on his experience, David is positive for the future and would recommend proton therapy to other patients. He said, “Even though any form of radiation isn’t easy, I’d recommend protons over others because the benefits you receive outweigh the negatives. Quality of life is very important to me, and feeling bad for a long period of time isn’t how I want to live my life.” In the end, David has been able to return to what he loves most: being in the great outdoors.