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Rich - Prostate Cancer

Rich - Prostate Cancer

The very last day of Rich Braun’s 44 days of proton radiation therapy, he rode his bike 26 miles to his appointment. That tells you two things: one about Rich—he’s an active guy; and one about the therapy—he had no major side effects.

Rich’s story starts back in February of 2012. He had been regularly getting his PSA levels checked during routine doctor visits (an indicator of prostate cancer) and the numbers got high enough to send him first to a urologist/surgeon, who did a biopsy - it was prostate cancer - then to a radiation oncologist, to see if the cancer had spread. 

Said Rich, “It hadn’t spread, so I had a lot of options, from radiation, to brachytherapy (radioactive seeds), to surgery. They told me I couldn’t have my grandkids sit in my lap if I got the seeds, so why would I want them there myself? I eliminated that option right away.”

From all the tests and consultations, surgery was recommended and he was told to schedule a surgery in three to four months. But while he was waiting to schedule the surgery, he did some of his own research.  He discovered a new option: proton therapy. At that time, the nearest facility was in Loma Linda, 1200 miles away from his home in Everett. And while his insurance would pay for the treatment, it wouldn’t pay for travel expenses, so he was glad to find out that a new facility was about to open up in the Pacific NW. Rich became the very first person in for a consultation at SCCA Proton Therapy Center when it opened, and the 9th patient to go under beam. He started treatment in April of 2013, and made the bike ride to his last appointment on June 3rd of that year. 

Rich is a telecommunications information services supervisor for Marine Spill Response Corporation, an organization that cleans up emergency oil spills. He’s responsible for the radio and satellite equipment for the ships that head out to clean up the oil spills, as well as all the phones and computer systems at offices in Washington, Oregon and Hawaii. 

While Rich expected to be on disability during his treatment regimen, he felt so good, he stayed at work. “I would ride my bike to work, Chris, my wife, would pick me up a 9, take me to the proton therapy center, and then I’d go back to work. If I’d had surgery or conventional radiation, I would have been out of work for three months. I also wouldn’t have been able to keep hiking, biking and skiing; things I do all the time.”

Now, in 2017, his PSA levels are way down. He’s in fine health, and has continued his biking, having ridden all 203 miles of the Seattle To Portland (STP) event in one day! 

His advice to others facing cancer?

“Do your research. There are too many people that listen to their doctor without thinking about their life after treatment. I met with a prostate support group at our local hospital and listened to their stories. Most everyone seemed to have some long-term issue, with incontinence the most prevalent. You have to look at the long-term side effects so that your quality of life is there for the long term. You also have to be willing to explore all your options. Your doctor may have your best interests at heart, but you are the only one who knows what is best for you.”