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Sam and Alan: Prostate Cancer

Sam and Alan: Prostate Cancer

Sam and Alan are connected in more ways than one. Not only are they father and son, but they both know what it’s like to live with cancer. Here are their stories:

Sam always had a passion for learning, especially about airplanes. Having worked at Boeing for more than 38 years, he devoted the majority of his adulthood focusing on aviation; that is, until the age of 62 when he decided to retire. Sam looked forward to this next chapter in life, and for a while, everything was going well. Then, he learned he had prostate cancer.

“I remember seeing my primary doctor at the age of 72 for some tests, hearing him say how he didn’t like the numbers he was seeing,” said Sam. “Eventually, after even more tests, I ended up at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California, where I was a prime candidate for proton therapy treatment.” At the time of Sam’s diagnosis, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy Center (SCCA) hadn’t been built yet.

It wasn’t long until Sam and his wife moved from Washington down to California, where he received 15 proton therapy treatments. Although he found it to be a tad tiring, he always kept his spirits high. “After each treatment, things became a little more difficult. However, I knew I had made the right decision for me and wouldn’t have done things differently.”

Like his father, Alan also enjoyed learning, making sure he knew all the facts and had the research to back it up. This skill came in handy when learning about his diagnosis of bladder carcinoma 10 years ago, and later, prostate cancer. “Through experiencing both cancer of the bladder and the prostate, I wanted to make sure I was receiving the best care possible. When I found out I had prostate cancer earlier this year, I decided to follow in my dad’s footsteps and receive proton therapy.”

Alan took it upon himself to explore all of this options; that’s where the SCCA Proton Therapy Center comes in. Constructed in 2013, the proton center quickly became a vital resource for those living with cancer in the region, and brought hope to the Federal Way, Washington family. It wasn’t long until Alan had his consultation with Dr. Ramesh Rengan – from the initial greeting to the nursing staff, he felt that everyone truly cared about him as a person, not just as another patient. “Dr. Rengan and the rest of the team were top notch. Everyone was extremely kind and professional, and I appreciate the amount of support I received.”

Today, both are doing well. Sam recently celebrated his 92nd birthday, attended his grandson’s graduation from the fire academy, and is cancer free. Alan, 61, practices dentistry in Tacoma, Washington and is confident about controlling his prostate cancer.

Their recommendation to other cancer patients? “If you can, go with proton therapy. Protons are your friend and fix people. We wouldn’t recommend something we didn’t believe in.”