Winning Against Prostate Cancer
“My radiation oncologist told me that the radiation oncologists at Virginia Hospital Center are considered among the best in their field by their peers. That impressed me.” —Jessie Johnson, Former NFL player
When retired New York Jets defensive back Jesse Johnson of Richmond, VA, was diagnosed with prostate cancer, his doctor recommended prostate surgery. Concerned about the potential side effects from surgery, Jesse sought out other treatment options. His sister suggested he look into CyberKnife®.
“I did a lot of research on the Internet about CyberKnife to determine its capabilities,” Jesse says.
What he learned was that the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is a non- invasive, painless radiation treatment designed to treat tumors almost anywhere in the body. CyberKnife delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumor with the highest degree of precision (accurate to within 1 millimeter), while sparing nearby healthy tissue. An outpatient procedure that involves no incisions or anesthesia, CyberKnife can be an alternative to open surgery and conventional radiation therapy. The treatment schedule for CyberKnife ranges from just one to five sessions, and patients can return to their normal activities immediately afterwards.
Jesse was referred to a radiation oncologist in Richmond, who reviewed his test results and told him he was an excellent candidate for CyberKnife. However, CyberKnife is not available in the Richmond area. His doctor gave him the names of a couple of physicians, but told Jesse his first choice was Robert Hong, MD, Chief of Radiation Oncology at Virginia Hospital Center. When Dr. Hong initially met with Jesse, he explained that Virginia Hospital Center offers all of the treatment options for prostate cancer and each patient’s treatment is tailored specifically to what is best for him and what fits his lifestyle. “The outcomes for different types of treatment may be the same; what we consider is what works best for the patient in terms of side effects. Side effects are minimized with CyberKnife because delivery of the radiation is so precise,” says Dr. Hong. Jesse’s treatments with CyberKnife were scheduled on five consecutive days. He drove up from Richmond each day to Virginia Hospital Center, had his treatment, and then drove back and went to work. Each treatment took 30 to 45 minutes.
“During the treatments, I was comfortable,” he recalls. “I listened to my choice of music and even dozed off a little. Afterwards, I was never tired. I had no downtime. I never took any medication for pain and never had any side effects,” he recalls.
As a professional athlete accustomed to playing at the highest levels, Jesse appreciates the value of teamwork. “My treatment was made especially wonderful by Dr. Hong’s team,” he says. “They’re not staff; these are team members who are extremely professional and perform their work at a very high level. They made me feel like I was the only patient they had.”
More than a year later, Jesse remains cancer-free. CyberKnife’s advanced technology is critical to its excellent treatment outcomes, Dr. Hong notes, but the team guiding the technology is what makes the difference.
“This technology only enables doctors to prescribe radiation; the expertise involved in developing individualized treatment plans is an art in the truest sense,” Dr. Hong says. “It is our treatment protocols, our team and our experience that have made our CyberKnife program so successful.”
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