Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngThis month I had the opportunity to travel to China to participate in two lectures and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to help bring pediatric patients from China to Jacksonville for proton therapy (more on the MOU below). In addition, I was invited to a dinner hosted by a Chinese family whose teenage son we treated last year. Their son, YS, has had a very difficult road. He was initially diagnosed at three years old with leukemia. He was successfully treated with chemotherapy but subsequently relapsed. He was treated again with chemotherapy and all seemed to be going well until he was diagnosed with a base of skull Ewing sarcoma. At this point he was 17 years old and required radiation treatment. YS and his mother traveled to Jacksonville to receive his proton treatment. YS was clearly not happy with having to go through treatment. He was understandably depressed and withdrawn, but managed to come out of his shell towards the end of his treatment course.

At last week’s dinner I had the opportunity to spend time with YS and his extraordinary family. Although their English was very limited, they were able to convey their thanks and appreciation for the treatment YS received at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. YS was outgoing, engaged and looking forward to applying for college. He had zero indications that he was treated with protons. This was clearly a family who had gone through great angst and trauma. They now had the opportunity to relax and once again function as a family unit by thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. It was truly inspirational to observe the impact that we had on a family that lives 8,000 miles away. Despite our language, cultural and political differences we were able to help mend and heal this family. It was a privilege and honor to observe our impact first hand. .


Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

UF awarded $11.9 million for prostate cancer research comparing proton and X-ray therapies

Dr. Nancy MendenhallA University of Florida research team has been approved for a five-year, $11.9 million award to directly compare the potential benefits and harms of proton therapy to standard radiation therapy when treating prostate cancer.

Nancy Mendenhall, M.D., medical director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, leads the team that received funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, or PCORI, for a large-scale pragmatic clinical study on prostate cancer — the most common non-skin cancer afflicting men in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

Mendenhall, also a professor and associate chair in the department of radiation oncology at UF, and Ronald Chen, M.D., an associate professor in the department of radiation oncology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are the study’s principal investigators.

“This is a critically important study that will compare outcomes between proton and conventional radiation in cohorts of 3,000 men with prostate cancer,” said Mendenhall. “It will determine whether there are differences in disease control, toxicity and quality of life in survivors — providing much-needed answers to patients, families, medical teams, hospitals, insurers and policymakers.”

The study will compare 1,500 patients treated with proton therapy with 1,500 patients treated with standard radiation therapy from a total of 42 treatment centers across the United States. The study will collect information on patient-reported quality of life, physician-reported and patient-reported side effects, and prostate cancer recurrence. Some participants receiving proton therapy will also be randomly assigned to receive eight weeks of treatment at a lower intensity or four weeks at a higher intensity, to determine which regimen has a greater impact on cure rates and side effects.

“This large, multi-institutional PCORI-funded study led by Dr. Mendenhall represents a concrete opportunity to move the field of radiation oncology toward the best approaches to reducing suffering and curing this oftentimes devastating disease,” said Paul Okunieff, M.D., a professor and chair of the department of radiation oncology at UF.

Mendenhall’s team collaborated with several stakeholders to design this study, including patients, caregivers, prostate cancer advocacy groups, insurers and minority engagement groups — because, according to the American Cancer Society, the disease occurs more often in African-American men and in Caribbean men of African ancestry than in men of other races.

Mendenhall’s study was selected for funding through PCORI’s Pragmatic Clinical Studies Initiative, an effort to produce results that are broadly applicable to a diverse range of patients and care situations and can be more quickly taken up in routine clinical practice. It was one of 14 studies selected through a highly competitive review process in which patients, caregivers and other stakeholders joined scientists to evaluate the proposals.

“Dr. Mendenhall is a visionary clinician and research scientist who’s a driving force in this country in advocating for less-toxic radiation therapy,” said Jonathan Licht, M.D., director of the UF Health Cancer Center. “This is the type of leading-edge, pragmatic clinical study that we at the University of Florida want to be known for.”

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that provides patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions. The UF award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

New research from UF sheds light on pediatric patient outcomes following proton therapy for ependymoma.

Dr. IndelicatoEpendymoma is one of the most common brain tumors in children under 10 years old. Proton therapy can reduce the low and intermediate radiation dose delivered to uninvolved brain tissue in children with intracranial tumors, which may improve functional outcomes and reduce second malignancies in survivors. Based on this rationale, ependymoma is the most common pediatric tumor treated with proton therapy in the United States.

The authors from the study Outcomes Following Proton Therapy For Pediatric Ependymoma, published last month in Acta Oncologica, report a 3-year survival exceeding 90% in the first 178 children with ependymoma treated with proton therapy at the University of Florida. This series represents the largest single-institution report of intracranial pediatric ependymoma outcomes treated with any radiation modality — proton or x-ray therapy. Therefore it contributes useful information for overall disease management, patient and family counseling, and surveillance guidance for pediatric radiation oncologists worldwide. Moreover, this cohort provides the foundation for continued follow-up studies quantifying the reduction of late toxicity with proton therapy.

“These are encouraging results,” said lead researcher Daniel J. Indelicato, M.D., who holds the Mendenhall Endowed Chair of Pediatric Radiotherapy and serves as associate professor in the UF Department of Radiation Oncology. “We demonstrated that protons are at least as effective as X-rays, in the short term, at reducing the risk of tumor recurrence. Our data further validates the experience reported in smaller groups of patients at other proton therapy centers.”


Red Coats Grant fuels rides for patients

Patient TransportTHE PLAYERS Championship is one of Jacksonville’s premier events. It features the PGA Tour’s top talent in a high-stakes golf tournament, not only for the competition in the field but also for the challenging course at TPC Sawgrass including the famed Island Green on the 17th hole. It attracts avid golf fans and casual spectators alike from the local community and beyond.

Each year, THE PLAYERS gives back to the community through charitable donations. A portion of sales, including event tickets and sponsorships, is distributed via a program called Red Coat Grants. The grants program is named for the distinctive red jackets worn by the volunteer chairmen of the current and past tournaments who are called Red Coats. Thanks to the efforts of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s friend and supporter Hugh Dunn, we prepared and submitted a successful grant request to help fund our patient transportation program.

Our driver, Mitch Kubaki, and van transports 25-30 patients and their families to and from treatment each day, traveling approximately 650 miles each week. The fuel costs alone average $100 per week, and the Red Coat Grant will help defray this expense.

“We are grateful to THE PLAYERS and the Red Coats for this generous grant,” said Stuart Klein, executive director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “The transportation program eases the burden for many of our patients and their families. Having access to a free, safe and comfortable ride for doctor appointments, errands and group outings is one less worry.”

Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngEven as we prioritize our attention on day-to-day patient care and clinical research, we continue to push the boundaries towards improvement. We are seeing progress on many fronts.

Expansion Project

Site prep is underway for the 10,000-sq.-ft. addition of a single-room proton therapy gantry and cyclotron. We have relocated a water main to accommodate the expansion, and construction of the foundation will begin shortly after all site work is completed.

Pencil Beam Scanning

System upgrades are progressing and pencil beam scanning (PBS) is now being used on a limited basis. We anticipate that we will be using PBS on a full-time basis in one of our gantries within the next two months. PBS is a method of delivering the proton beam that will enable us to treat more types of cancers.


We recently refinanced our debt and secured municipal bonds that will help reduce our annual interest expense and provide the funds needed to cover costs of the expansion.

Ad Campaign

Be on the lookout next month for a new advertising campaign. Radio commercials will begin this month and television ads in November.


Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Survivor Spotlight: Jerry Lambert

Jerry Lambert, a UF Health Proton Therapy Institute alum patient, was recently featured in a story on Fox News Channel for his extraordinary years of service as a lifeguard. The 73-year-old native New Yorker has watched over swimmers at his local beach for 50 summers. He moved to Ocala, Florida, several years ago, but he said he hasn’t spent one summer in Florida in order to maintain his lifeguard duties.

When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer he considered his options and settled on proton therapy. He is five years post-proton therapy, has no sign of cancer and has no plans to slow down his active lifestyle.

See his story here:

Welcome Lindsay Carter-Tidwell, Director of Development

We are pleased to introduce Lindsay Carter-Tidwell as our new Director of Development at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Lindsay officially joined us on September 6 after relocating with her husband and two children to Jacksonville from the Athens, Georgia area.

Lindsay most recently served as Senior Director of Gift and Estate Planning at the University of Georgia working with alumni and friends to help facilitate major outright and deferred gift commitments. Prior to her career in development, Lindsay practiced law in Lake City, Florida, concentrated in the areas of estate planning and probate. Lindsay acquired her Juris Doctorate from Florida State University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina.

With upwards of seven years development experience, Lindsay has a strong background in building relationships and boosting an organization’s philanthropic support. In addition to raising funds for research and the facility expansion project, Lindsay will work with alumni, friends and community partners to identify funding opportunities to sustain and enhance the programs and initiatives available to patients and their families.

If you are interested in learning more about ways you can make a gift to support the Institute, contact Lindsay at lcartertidwell@floridaproton.org or 904-588-1519.

Go4TheGoal Grant Launches Child Life Fellowship

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute received a $66,000 grant from the Go4TheGoal Foundation. Funds from the grant will be used to launch the Go4TheGoal Foundation Child Life Clinical Fellowship, the first Child Life fellowship of its kind. The program will employ two Child Life fellows, each for 12 months over a two-year period.

The Institute’s Child Life program is seen as a model for radiation oncology departments around the world. A dedicated Child Life specialist works one-on-one with pediatric cancer patients throughout treatment to promote effective coping through medical play, preparation and education. The addition of the Child Life fellowship allows the Institute to continue its innovative approach to pediatric cancer treatment.

Micalene SchwartzMicalene Schwartz is the program’s first child life fellow and began her 12-month contract in May. During her fellowship, Schwartz will enhance her skills in assessing child development, understanding and coping. Her responsibilities include preparing children for medical procedures and treatment, communicating with families and advocating for the patient and their families.




Recognizing Excellence in Radiation Oncology Practice and Education

Providing excellent patient care is fundamental at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. This dedication extends to medical education, community education and advances in radiation oncology practice. We are proud of the commitment our employees make every day and applaud those who have recently received recognition for their exemplary efforts.

Julie A. Bradley, MD, was recognized as the 2016-17 Educator of the Year by the Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology for excellence in teaching, enthusiasm, and support for radiation oncology residency training. The award is presented in partnership with the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

Roi Dagan, MD, received the 2017 UF Department of Radiation Oncology Medical Student and Community Education Award. The award recognizes outstanding educational opportunities and mentoring to medical students and/or community education and outreach.

Daniel J. Indelicato, MD, was named 2017 Pioneer of Innovation by the Northeast Florida Pediatric Society. The award recognizes his leadership and development of the pediatric program at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

Maria Mamalui-Hunter, PhD, received the 2017 UF Department of Radiation Oncology Medical Physics Education Award, recognizing a physicist who provides outstanding educational opportunities to graduate and/or postdoctoral students.

Bradlee Robbert, Patient Services Director, has recently become a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives

Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngAs an academic health institution, we develop and use treatments informed by clinical research. Our clinical research program tracks the outcomes data of thousands of patients treated with proton therapy. In fact, 98 percent of patients treated here participate in an outcomes registry study and 25 percent of patients are enrolled in clinical trials. The national average of participation in a clinical trial is three percent. We use this high-quality data to document the effectiveness of proton therapy and to develop additional cutting-edge clinical trials for future patients. 

This month, several of our physicians will present new research at the Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group’s (PTCOG) annual meeting in Japan, the largest international gathering of scientists, physicists and radiation oncologists who study and use protons. Presentations at PTCOG are often the first step to publishing research in medical journals. Ultimately, the goal of our clinical research is to realize the full potential of proton therapy to improve cancer patients’ lives.

Survivor Spotlight: Brandon Bell

Brandon Bell was 12 years old in 2010 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At the time, his mother Sarah was studying to be a radiation therapist and knew about the benefits of proton therapy. She chose to have Brandon treated with proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville, even though it meant being away from their home in Scotland. “I wanted him to have the best outcome and the best chance to survive and for the tumor to be destroyed,” Sarah said. Now, nearly seven years later, Brandon has no sign of cancer and studies electrical engineering in a Glasgow college. He considers Jacksonville his second home and his family says he’s even picked up a bit of an American accent.

See more of Brandon’s story here.

Brain Tumor Treatment and Proton Therapy Clinical Trials

Rotondo_Ronny_Dr._0.jpgTreating brain tumors and central nervous system (CNS) tumors has been an integral part of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute since day one. Two-thirds of the children we treat have brain tumors, most commonly craniopharyngiomas and ependymomas. Hundreds of adults and children have benefited from targeted proton therapy that effectively treats the tumor and reduces the risk of side effects. Ronny Rotondo, MD, CM, FRCPC, leads the brain tumor and CNS program, with expertise in pediatric and adult malignancies and base-of-skull tumors. Following is a Q&A with Dr. Rotondo about brain tumors and proton therapy.

Q: May is brain tumor awareness month. What should people know about this type of cancer?

A: There are many kinds of brain tumors. Tumors that arise in the brain can be malignant or benign. Sometimes tumors in the brain are caused by a cancer that has spread from another part of the body. The type of cancer determines the type of treatment which can include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, often in combination.

Q: What are the symptoms of a brain tumor? How do you know when you should see a doctor?

A:   The signs and symptoms of a brain tumor vary greatly and depend on the brain tumor’s size, location and rate of growth. General signs and symptoms caused by brain tumors may include:

  • New onset or change in pattern of headaches, or headaches that gradually become more frequent and more severe
  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting, vision problems, hearing loss
  • Numbness, weakness, difficulty with balance, speech
  • Confusion/personality changes
  • Seizures, especially in someone who doesn’t have a history of seizures

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have persistent signs and symptoms that concern you.

Q: What role does proton therapy have in treating brain tumors?

A: The benefit of proton therapy is it can deliver high dose radiation to the tumor site while minimizing or even avoiding depositing radiation in other parts of the brain. The higher the dose of radiation, the better chance we have of controlling the tumor. By minimizing radiation to healthy brain tissue, we can reduce the loss of memory function and cognitive function. By minimizing or avoiding damage to critical structures near the brain, we can preserve vision, hearing and hormone function.

Brain Tumor - Photon vs Proton Case 1- FCL_1.jpg

Q:  And for children who have brain tumors, preserving healthy brain tissue can mean a lifetime of benefit.

A: That’s right. Proton therapy’s benefit is seen in both adults and children. We safely treat children who are as young as 18 months old. We can give children an excellent chance of survival and a good quality of life. Studies show that even small amounts of radiation exposure can have a negative impact on a developing child’s IQ. Because proton therapy deposits less radiation in healthy brain tissue than conventional X-ray radiation, we can have a better chance of preserving the child’s IQ.  

Brain Tumor - Photon vs Proton Case 2- FCL_1.jpg

Q: What would a patient experience while having proton therapy for a brain tumor?

A: Brain tumor patients are usually treated over a 5 ½ - 6 ½ week period. Prior to treatment starting, we take CT scans to accurately identify the treatment area. Custom devices are made for each patient, including immobilization masks and body molds. These enable us to position the patient in the exact same spot each day of treatment. Once the patient is in position, the proton beam is delivered for about one minute, during which the patient remains completely still. Overall treatment time is about 35-45 minutes (one hour door-to-door).

Q: Are there side effects?

A: Most patients tolerate treatment very well with minimal side effects. Some side effects may occur including fatigue, nausea/vomiting, headache, hair loss, skin irritation.  

Q: What is the success rate of proton therapy in treating brain tumors? 

A:  Success rates vary significantly depending on the type of brain tumor, spanning from benign or low-grade tumors with excellent long-term survival and more aggressive, high-grade tumors such as a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) for which outcomes remain poor. 

Q: Is there more that can be done with protons for brain tumors?

A: We have ongoing research to explore opportunities to intensify treatment in some cases which may lead to improved outcomes. We are currently participating in a multi-institutional clinical trial funded by the National Cancer Institute for GBM tumors, the most common primary brain tumors. This study compares a higher radiation dose using proton radiation to the standard radiation dose using IMRT. Both groups will receive the standard chemotherapy, Temodar. The study will allow the researchers to better understand whether this higher dose technique is better, the same or worse than the standard approach. This study is geared towards newly diagnosed GBM. Recurrent tumors and patients who have received prior chemotherapy or radiation therapy for GBM are not eligible. Given patients on this trial must begin treatment within five weeks of surgery, prompt referral after surgery is essential, ideally within two weeks. For further information about this study, please call toll-free 877-686-6009.

Clinical Trials: Moving Proton Therapy Forward

Patient & Mendenhall2_1.jpgSince day one, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has had an active clinical research program. As a result, the Institute has published more than 130 research articles in medical journals, documenting proton therapy techniques, some that have become the standard of care, and patient outcomes. With more proton therapy centers opening across the country, not only do more patients have access to the treatment, but also the Institute has more opportunities to collaborate on research.

Collaborative group clinical trials offer advantages for patients and researchers, said Amanda Durrance Prince, RN, BSN, CCRP, Assistant Director of Research Programs & Services. For patients it means access to cutting-edge treatment. For researchers it means advancing what is known about proton therapy at a more rapid pace. “Investigators have a larger pool of eligible patients and so clinical trials can enroll faster. Once enrollment is complete, researchers can analyze results, report their findings and move on to a new clinical trial that will answer the next question,” said Prince. 

But what is a clinical trial? Simply put, it is a scientific way to get answers to a specific question about an existing treatment. Some of the questions being asked in proton therapy clinical trials are: Can we reduce the number of treatments needed for effective treatment? Can we intensify treatment for better tumor control? Can we do less damage to normal healthy tissue? Can we improve upon other forms of radiation therapy?

The first joint clinical trial the Institute conducted was in 2009 with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, before it had its own proton therapy capability. Since then, the Institute has participated in multiple clinical trials with the renowned pediatric hospital and with other institutions such as MD Anderson and Mayo Clinic.  

Another type of collaborative research is cooperative group trials. There are several large national groups, such as the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group/NRG Oncology and the Children’s Oncology Group, that are funded by the National Cancer Institute. Its members are hundreds of clinical and laboratory investigators who combine their expertise in research. The Institute participates in several of these clinical trials, including the currently open-to-enrollment trial for patients with glioblastoma, an aggressive and the most common primary brain tumor, and another trial open for lung cancer patients.

More recently, proton therapy centers have started their own cooperative groups. The Institute currently participates in the Proton Collaborative Group and leads several studies. For example, Dr. Bradford Hoppe is the Principal Investigator for a proton therapy dose escalation lung cancer study.

So how does all of this benefit patients? It means that they will have the best possible treatment with the latest techniques for the best possible outcome. “At an academic center the standard of care won’t stay standard for long,” said Prince. “The investigators are always trying to come forward, move the treatment forward. Many researchers will look at the problem from different angles at the same time, it’s always moving forward.”

For a list of all open clinical trials, click here.

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Honoring Our Nurses

We are fortunate to have so many exceptional nurses at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Their dedication to patients and the advancement of proton therapy research is beyond compare. With gratitude, we honor these amazing professionals during National Nurses Week (May 6-12).

May-NurseGroups_1200x900 (2).jpg

A Special Thank You

Thank you to all of our friends who helped to make the renovation of our Pediatric Recovery Room possible. The renovation is complete and we are thrilled with our new space. From all of us here at Proton, thank you so very much for your support.


Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngLast week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new guidelines for prostate cancer screening. They recommend that men between the ages of 55 and 69 should discuss having a PSA blood test to screen for prostate cancer, a reversal of their 2012 position. We applaud this change. Too many men in recent years have been diagnosed at later stages of cancer, or when it has spread beyond the prostate, resulting in too many deaths. Early detection of prostate cancer saves lives. Treatment with proton therapy for early stage prostate cancer is very effective. Our five-year outcomes show 99 percent of men with low-risk prostate cancer are cancer-free and have an excellent quality of life. We encourage men, especially those who have a family history or who are African-American, to be screened. It could save your life.

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Survivor Spotlight: Carlotta Cooley

Carlotta Cooley was diagnosed in 2008 with esthesioneuroblastoma, a rare cancerous tumor that occurs in the sinuses. Her surgeon told her that proton therapy was the only way to have radiation that would give her the best chance for cure and save her vision. She said the warmth and caring of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute staff and other patients helped put her at ease and able to cope during treatment. Hear more of Carlotta’s story in this video.

Proton Therapy for Head and Neck Cancer

DSC0260_0_0.jpgDr. Roi Dagan, director of the head and neck program at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, is among the leading experts on proton therapy for this disease site. He will be in Japan next month to present research on head and neck cancer during the scientific sessions at the Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group’s 56th Annual Conference, the premier international proton therapy gathering of scientists and professionals. Following is a Q&A with Dr. Dagan about head and neck cancers and proton therapy.

Q: April is head and neck cancer awareness month. What should people know about this type of cancer?

A: Head and neck cancers are not one cancer. There are over 20 sites where cancers of the head and neck originate and many different types of cancers. Cancers can arise from the mouth, throat, nose, sinuses, voice box, skin of the face, and salivary glands. The most common cancer of the head and neck is called squamous cell carcinoma and arises from the lining of our mouth and throat. Head and neck cancers account for about three percent of all diagnosed cancers, and an estimated 50,000 people will be diagnosed in the US in 2017. 

The outcomes of patients with head and neck cancer, unlike some other cancers, will heavily depend on the quality and/or effectiveness of local therapies such as surgery and radiation. These tumors tend to not spread to other parts of the body unlike lung cancer or colon cancer. Also, the delicate normal tissues of the head and neck are integral to so many parts of our daily life, such as the way we look, how we speak and sound, or what we can eat. Although radiotherapy is very effective for many of these cancers, it can have a severe negative impact on quality of life, often resulting in significant pain from sores in the mouth and throat, loss of taste, severe dry mouth, and difficulty swallowing.

Because these cancers are rare and the anatomy of the head and neck is complex, treatment of these cancers should be performed at centers with multidisciplinary subspecialty expertise. Multiple studies have demonstrated improved survival and quality of life outcomes in patients with head and neck cancers treated at such centers.

Q: Are there ways to prevent head and neck cancer?

A: The best way to reduce your risk of a head and neck cancer is to stop smoking or using tobacco products like chewing tobacco or snuff. Heavy alcohol use is also a potential risk factor for developing head and neck cancer.

We are seeing an increase in cancers that occur in the oropharynx – the tonsils, tongue base, soft palate and pharyngeal wall – that are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This is the same virus that leads to cervical cancer in women. One way to reduce the risk is to have the HPV vaccination. It is recommended for boys and girls beginning at age 11 to be vaccinated to reduce the risk.

Q: What about preventive screening?

A: There are really no standard screening tests. Because of the rarity of these cancers, population-based screening is not likely to be cost-effective. However, now most dental professionals will perform an oral cavity cancer screening exam during routine dental examination. 

Head and neck cancers are usually diagnosed when symptoms are present such as a lump in the neck, trouble swallowing, or a sore that doesn’t heal, bleeding from the mouth or throat, or a change in your voice (hoarseness). These can be symptoms of other less serious conditions, but you should talk to your doctor so the proper assessment can be made at as early a stage as possible.

Q: What role does proton therapy have in treating head and neck cancer?

A: The advantages of proton therapy over conventional techniques will vary by disease site in the head and neck. In some situations there will be clear advantages, and in others not. Generally, we can leverage these advantages in one of two ways depending on the specifics of each individual’s case. In some, we may use the advantages of proton therapy to increase the intensity of treatment without risking additional complications and/or side effects, and thereby, we can improve the probability of controlling the cancer. One example of this is in cancers that occur in the nasal cavity and surrounding sinus cavities where the use of aggressive surgery and conventional radiotherapy is limited by the adjacent delicate normal tissues, such as the eyes, visual pathways, and brainstem. Here, we have successfully applied more aggressive treatment, and our studies show that after proton therapy, more than 80 percent of patients are living without local disease recurrence following proton therapy (and 90 percent after complete resection and proton therapy). Historically, the best we ever did in this disease site with conventional therapy was 50 to 60 percent.

In cancers that occur in the salivary glands that are lateralized to one side of the neck and in oropharyngeal cancers, we are able to use proton therapy to reduce the side effects of therapy. Here, we can significantly reduce the severity and duration of taste loss, inability to swallow and development of mouth sores. Patients treated with protons don’t lose as much weight because they are able to tolerate the treatment better due to less radiation to normal healthy tissue.

Q: These seem like excellent results. Is there more that can be done with protons for head and neck cancer?

A: We are continuing to actively explore ways to better harness this technology. Recent improvements in proton delivery systems, image-guided therapy, and immobilization technology to better target the head and neck region could open up the doors for more patients with head and neck cancer to take advantages of proton therapy.

Prostate Cancer Patient Outcomes Are Similar for All Races Treated with Proton Therapy

NewsletterImage_0_0.jpgAfrican-American men are at higher risk for developing prostate cancer and they are more likely to die of prostate cancer than white men.

Some studies indicate that African-American men have worse quality of life and worse cure rates following treatment than white men. Questions about the efficacy and potential side effects of currently available therapies force men to make difficult choices about treatment when diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Proton radiation for prostate cancer treatment offers an alternative, innovative method of radiation treatment intended to lower the risk of prostate cancer treatments and side effects. A study by the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute1 concludes that African-American and white patients had similarly excellent results following proton therapy for prostate cancer. There was no difference detected between the two groups in their cure rates or in their sexual, urinary or bowel function following proton therapy.

In a large-scale study published in 2016,2 researchers reported that 99 percent, 94 percent and 74 percent of men treated with proton therapy for low-, intermediate-, and high-risk prostate cancer, respectively, had no signs of cancer recurrence after five years of follow-up. Less than one percent in the cohort experienced serious gastrointestinal side effects and approximately three percent experienced serious urologic side effects.


1 Bryant, Curtis et al. “Does Race Influence Health-Related Quality of Life and Toxicity Following Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer?” American Journal of Clinical Oncology 39.3 (2016): 261–265. PMC. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.


2 Bryant, Curtis et al. “Five-Year Biochemical Results, Toxicity, and Patient-Reported Quality of Life Following Delivery of Dose-Escalated Image-Guided Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer.” International Journal of Radiation, Oncology, Biology Physics 95.1 (2016): 435-43.

Administrative Professionals Day


Our administrative team is amazing! Thanks for all you do for patients, physicians and beyond.

Back row (l-r) - KayLee Alwood, Charelle Bellinger, Lauren Forbes

Front row (l-r) - Nicole Patrick, Rozina Behrooz, Jenna Hobkirk, Gerri Duffey

In the Community

Visit from Bahamian Consulate


(from l-r) Former Florida State Senator Tony Hill and Bahamian Deputy Consul General Sandra Carey dropped by recently for a tour led by Patient Services Director Bradlee Robbert.

Rotary Sporting Clays Shoot


UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s team, Executive Director Stuart Klein, Dr. Bill Mendenhall and Technical Services Director Trevor Fleming and Dan Dieterle of Harden Insurance, won second place in Jacksonville’s Rotary Club Sporting Clays Shoot.

Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngWhile cure rates are a big factor when considering cancer treatment options, another big part of the conversation today is quality of life during and after treatment. With proton therapy, patients can expect excellent cure rates and little to no impact on their quality of life. For prostate cancer patients our five-year outcomes meet or exceed other treatment options for cure rates and quality of life. For breast cancer, lung cancer and lymphoma patients, early evidence suggests a reduced risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissue. While proton therapy is not the “magic bullet” cure for every cancer, it is certainly making it possible for many patients to beat cancer and to live life to the fullest.

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Preserving Quality of Life During and After Treatment

Dr. Curtis Bryant, assistant professor, UF department of radiation oncology, was interviewed this month on First Coast Living, a midday talk show on WTLV Channel 12, Jacksonville’s NBC affiliate. During the wide-ranging discussion, he talked about the proton therapy benefit of preserving cancer patients’ quality of life during and after treatment. He also described the results of the large-scale prostate cancer study published last May and innovations in treatment such as SpaceOAR and shorter treatment regimens.

Patient Spotlight: Beth Klein, President, IBA Proton Therapy North America

BethKlein.jpgBy Theresa Edwards Makrush

Beth Klein had worked for decades at GE Health Care and became a GE Officer, in the area of medical imaging devices, including nuclear medicine and positron emission tomography, or PET, where machines use radioactive tracers to detect disease. “I became passionate about oncology and wanted to get closer to making a difference in people’s lives, which eventually led me to IBA and proton therapy,” said Klein.

Today she is president of IBA Proton Therapy, Inc., based in Reston, Va., with responsibility for IBA’s North American operations, and has been with the company for nine years. “I am blessed to be in a hi-tech, hi-touch business where we are working together with our customers and their patients to grow the market so that we can help even more cancer patients have a better quality of life during and post treatment,” said Klein.

IBA has installed proton therapy systems in more than half of all operating facilities worldwide. More than 50,000 patients have been treated on IBA systems; that’s more than all competitive systems combined. The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute was the first clinical system installed in the United States by IBA, after the prototype at Massachusetts General Hospital. The close working relationship that IBA has with the Institute has propelled the field of proton therapy forward. IBA engineers are on-site 24 hours, every day of the week, to ensure that the system is available and operating at maximum performance for patient treatment.

Last year, when Klein’s symptoms of hearing loss and acute tinnitus were linked to an acoustic neuroma, a rare benign tumor of the nerve sheath that lies along the acoustic nerve, she knew proton therapy could be the best possible treatment. In consultation with her doctors, she ruled out surgery, conventional radiation, or doing nothing because of the potential for unpleasant or serious side effects, both short and long term. Klein also wanted to make sure she could fully enjoy her future retirement years and not worry about the risk of secondary cancers down the road.

She turned to the physicians she knew and trusted at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “I chose UFHPTI because it offers an exceptional combination of clinical expertise and outstanding patient care,” she said. “After having gone through treatment, I am convinced that patient care is an important differentiator in outcomes. It is difficult to measure, but I believe that peace of mind and a caring, respectful, supportive environment plays a key role in healing.”

The following is excerpted from an email interview in which Klein describes more about her unique perspective as a proton therapy “insider” and now as a proton therapy patient.

Q&A with Beth Klein, president, IBA Proton Therapy North America

Q: What has your experience of proton therapy been like?

A: I have loved my time here. The entire team has been nothing short of extraordinary. Everyone on the UFHPTI team cares about you as the patient, from the parking lot attendant and receptionists to the executive team operating the center. The physician, therapist and nursing teams are ROCK STARS! They are smart, caring and fun to be with. It sounds hard to believe but I actually looked forward to my daily treatment because of them! I watched them with other patients, especially the children being treated, and was amazed at how skilled they are at what they do. As an aside, the Jacksonville area has been a pleasant surprise. You can't beat the weather and there is a lot of diversity in things to do.

Q: How is treatment impacting your everyday activities?

A: One of my main reasons for choosing proton therapy is that the side effects during treatment are minimal compared to other treatments. I continued to work full time while being treated. I also was able to exercise every day and played tennis three times a week.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer or to someone who is considering having proton therapy?

A: As a patient, it is important to do extensive research on your options before you decide what course is right for you. Don’t assume that your physician is aware of all of the options -- many times they refer you to what they know or have access to versus what they should know or perhaps don’t have access to. Proton therapy is not recommended for every cancer but studies indicate that 20-30% of patients who need radiation therapy could benefit from proton therapy. It’s important to ask the question, and if you are not comfortable with the answer, I would call the intake center at UFHPTI and ask them. They will connect you with a physician who has the experience and access to both conventional radiation therapy and proton therapy — so they are not biased. They will help you make an objective decision weighing the benefits and downsides to different approaches.

Q: What do you wish you had known before your treatment?

A: I wish that I would have known how easy it was going to be to go through treatment — it would have lowered my anxiety in the weeks before treatment. Even though I knew about the technology, I didn't have an appreciation for patient anxiety until I was a patient. Fortunately, the UFHPTI team was there to ease me through it. My anxiety was gone after the first treatment.

Q: Are there things you have learned as a patient that you’ll use in your work? Any suggestions for improvement you will give to others at your company?

A: Absolutely. As someone who works for IBA, the company that develops this technology, I wanted to use my treatment as an opportunity to learn how proton therapy centers operate from the inside out. As the world leader in proton therapy, we do a lot of things right, starting first and foremost with ensuring that the system is up and running most of the time so that every patient can be treated with minimal disruption to the schedule. I want to recognize the outstanding efforts of IBA’s service operations team at Jacksonville for all that they do behind the scenes to keep our system running reliably. They work 24X7 to ensure that our technology is optimized and available for patient treatment.

From a technology standpoint, IBA’s system is the most precise in the industry so I took comfort in knowing that our proton therapy system was treating the area that needed to be treated and not healthy tissue. That said, there are ways that we can make the system more user friendly for the therapists — making their jobs easier and improving operational efficiencies. From a patient perspective, I would like our development team to look for ways to reduce the noises a patient hears during treatment and perhaps find ways to make the table more comfortable. Fabric softener in the sheets does not cut it!

Q: What is on the horizon for IBA and proton therapy? What do you see for the future of proton therapy?

A: Our mission at IBA is to make proton therapy accessible to every cancer patient who can benefit from it. As I mentioned earlier, approximately 20-30% of all cancer patients who require radiation treatment could benefit from proton therapy. Today that actual number treated with proton therapy is less than 1%, so we have a long way to go to increase the awareness of the medical and patient community about the significant benefit of this powerful technology over other treatment alternatives. To move the needle on that measure, we are partnered with expert clinicians, such as the team here at UFHPTI, to research, expand and publish the studies which demonstrate those benefits. We are also looking for ways to engage the patient community, who are wonderful advocates for our technology, in getting the message out. I hope that every patient will become a proton therapy ambassador going forward and spread the word about this treatment option within their community.

As for the future, I am happy to share that the team at UFHPTI is currently partnered with IBA on upgrading their technology to include the latest state-of-the-art imaging and treatment modes. They will continue to be one of the most advanced proton therapy centers in the world.

Joy Frank – Oncology Nurse

JoyFrank.jpgBy Theresa Edwards Makrush

Positive energy radiates from Joy Frank, RN. It’s a quality her patients and colleagues appreciate. This, combined with her decades of experience and certifications in oncology nursing and breast health, is what her patients and coworkers value.

“She’s the kind of nurse I’d want to take care of me,” said Dr. William Mendenhall, professor, UF department of radiation oncology. They’ve worked together for decades, starting out in the 1980s in Gainesville. “She’s available, competent and cheerfully optimistic.”

For the past six years, Joy has worked at the proton therapy institute, first with prostate patients and now with breast cancer patients. Her special training in breast health has benefited proton patients as they manage side effects, especially skin care in the area being treated.

“Joy has provided expertise to the team with her many years working in radiation oncology and research,” said Gail Sarto, RN, director of adult nursing. “She developed teaching tools for the staff to assure our patients with breast cancer have the right information in the right format. She worked with a team of nurses who developed the wound care protocols and this has greatly benefitted our patients affected by breast cancer.”

As Joy begins to transition to her retirement years, working part time since last July, she looked back on her career as a radiation oncology nurse. She recalled her on-the-job training as a radiation oncology nurse, learning how to do the treatments with the cobalt radiation machine. There were no radiation therapists at that time and nurses administered the daily treatments. As the technology has evolved, Joy said each advance has improved radiation therapy for patients.

“With proton therapy,” she said, “you can target the tumor more precisely without treating organs at risk. This means better tumor control and fewer late and acute side effects.” As an example she pointed to a recent study published by Dr. Julie Bradley, assistant professor, UF department of radiation oncology, that breast cancer patients, especially those with left-sided breast cancer, can be treated effectively with protons without any radiation dose to the heart and on average 50% less dose to the lungs than conventional radiation.

While she is making plans to retire, she said she will miss her patients. “That’s one of the hardest things I’ll have when leaving is not having the contact with all the patients. You develop a relationship with patients. We’re always in contact. Whenever a patient has an issue or something they’re not sure about, they call us. They know they can call us anytime. They develop that relationship with you.”

Pediatric Recovery Room Completed

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Blue skies above and gently curving ribbons of blues and greens on the walls and floor welcome our youngest patients in the newly renovated recovery room. It is a serene, private oasis designed to calm the senses as families and the medical team tend to their children who are waking from anesthesia.

At the same time the environment welcomes imaginative play as children arrive and settle in for their daily proton therapy. A nook filled with toys and games allows patients, siblings and parents to relax and have fun together.

“The soft lighting and soothing color palette and design has transformed the space that was formerly sterile and clinical into a tranquil area that is child friendly, welcoming and calming,” said Amy Sapp, director of pediatric nursing. “The space has a positive impact on both the medical and psychosocial well-being of the children and their families by decreasing anxiety and stress related to the various medical procedures encountered on a daily basis as well as providing an area for play and distraction.”

The $250,000 renovation was made possible through the generous support of many donors. “Thanks to all who contributed in large and small ways through the UFHPTI For the Children Fund. And thanks to our volunteers, many who are alumni patients, who have championed this fundraising effort,” said Stuart Klein, executive director.


The pediatric program has many ongoing needs in order to maintain the exceptional level of care that has made it one of the largest pediatric proton therapy programs in the world. To make a donation to the pediatric program, click here. Or contact Molly Dworkin, director of development, mdworkin@floridaproton.org

Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngThe safety measures we have in place for our staff and patients is one of the reasons why we are among the few proton therapy centers accredited in radiation oncology by the American College of Radiology. From our physics department staff members who carefully calculate treatment plans and calibrate the equipment to our radiation therapists who take extra training for pediatric life support, each contributes to our commitment to safety. 

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Survivor Spotlight: Carlotta and Dick Cooley

A married couple from Sarasota, Florida, was the first to have proton therapy at the same time. Now, eight years later, they are both cancer free. To see more of their remarkable story, watch below:

VTOC Is Now Mobile Friendly

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 12.45.28 PM.pngVTOC (Vision Tree Optimal CareTM) access is even easier when you add the web app to your tablet or smartphone. Think of VTOC as your virtual doctor’s office where you can view and upload your records, see reminders, and exchange messages with your UF Health Proton Therapy Institute medical team all in a secure environment.

The VTOC web app is compatible with both Apple and Android mobile devices. To add the VTOC web app to your home screen, follow the instructions for the type of mobile device you have.


PALS-Certified Radiation Therapists Raise the Bar

PALS therapists 1_0.jpg

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute radiation therapists are highly skilled medical professionals who are board certified and take continuing education classes to maintain state and national licensure. One of the many requirements to obtain the designation of a radiation therapist is they must become Basic Life Support (BLS) certified. BLS certification prepares an individual to administer CPR or other life-sustaining interventions in case a patient or coworker is nonresponsive. Recently, 15 of the Institute’s radiation therapists advanced their skills and added another layer of protection for pediatric patients by completing a 16-hour course in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS).

“We’re one of the largest pediatric proton centers in the world. Parents can rest assured that everyone who has direct contact with their child has advanced training,” said Trevor Fleming, director of technical services and manager of the radiation therapists. “Less than one percent of therapists in the U.S. are PALS certified.”

PALS certification is beneficial because there are differences in the way life support is administered to children versus adults. Having the knowledge and skills to intervene quickly in the event of an emergency can make a big impact in the patient’s outcome. “Understanding how to rapidly react in a moment of time could mean the difference for someone’s child,” said Fleming. “We feel we have added another layer of protection for our pediatric patients, strengthening an already incredible team of professionals here. It’s one more confidence-builder for parents whose children require our unique technology.”

Physicians and nurses are with patients as the first line of defense, and now, PALS-certified radiation therapists are an added safety net. “This is different than other proton centers. It’s one more step we’ve made to better the level of care here,” said Fleming.

Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngAs the first proton therapy center in the Southeast U.S., it is logical that we would have many “firsts.” We did not stop breaking new ground when we treated our first patient. Instead we have continually pushed ahead to develop and discover ways to best use proton therapy for the benefit of our patients. We share our experiences with other proton therapy providers and cancer specialists. We rely on the collaboration of many people and organizations in our community and worldwide to achieve a greater good. Whether we are publishing patient outcomes or developing new educational tools for children, our ultimate goal is to help patients today and in future generations become cancer-free with minimal to no side effects. 

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Customized app, Proton U, will aid children with cancer treatment


By staff

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has a new teaching tool designed especially for children who need proton therapy, an advanced type of radiation treatment for cancer. Proton U is a customized app designed to aid children before proton therapy begins by familiarizing them with what to expect during treatment.

Children are often anxious and fearful of the unknown when it comes to their medical treatment. Studies show that we can reduce anxiety and teach coping skills to children through medical play, hands-on learning and pre-treatment tours. The app is a unique way to combine children’s natural curiosity and technology to improve the medical treatment experience. 

“We have had tremendous success with our child life program over the last six years, reducing the number of children between ages 5-7 who need daily sedation for treatment by 40 percent,” said Danny Indelicato, MD, Director of Pediatric Radiotherapy, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, and Associate Professor, UF Department of Radiation Oncology. “Thanks to Kim Todd, Child Life Specialist, and the collaboration of Flagler College and the UF Department of Biomedical Engineering, we think the app will help us further reduce the number of children needing sedation. It will also serve as an educational introduction to proton therapy for all our young children, something they can download and review even before they travel to Jacksonville. We have also created Spanish and Norwegian language versions.”

Kim had the idea to develop an app for the iPad that patients could use with her during sessions and on their own at home. She contacted her alma mater, Flagler College, to ask for help, and they agreed to take on the project as a community service. More than 30 Flagler College students designed the graphic art for the interactive game/storybook written by Kim. Students volunteered to be the recorded voices of Jefferson, the Proton U mascot, and various medical team characters introduced throughout the game.

A UF Health Proton Therapy Institute patient with Microsoft contacts connected Kim with a programmer who initiated the app’s development, and a UF engineering faculty member Stephen Arce, PhD, programmed Proton U with music and animation features that brought the app to life. “I have been programming software and games for several years in my spare time, and this is a great opportunity to help do something bigger,” said Arce. “Making apps for kids to introduce and educate them about therapy is one part of the role software can play in medicine in the future. As devices get ‘smarter,’ we will see more emphasis on interactive software to help patients learn/participate and give physicians better information. There is also an opportunity for big data sciences as we collect and analyze statistics about patient care and move toward a quality-based healthcare system.”

The app design was recognized by the Florida Campus Compact Awards, winning second place in the statewide 2015 Campus Community Partnership category. The Florida Campus Compact is a network of about 60 colleges and universities in Florida who are committed to community service that enhances students’ education, workforce readiness and civic mindedness. The app design made the shortlist for an international recognition by the Interaction Design Association in its “Empowering” category for “helping people to do things they otherwise couldn’t do.”

Flowers: an art project benefiting cancer patients at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute

By staff

Red Flowers_0.jpgFlowers is a collection of drawings, paintings and collages created by UF Health Proton Therapy Institute cancer patients and their family and friends. The collection will be on display through January at Gallery 1037, located inside Reddi-Arts, 1037 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville.

The daily arts-and-crafts activities are part of the Institute’s Art in Medicine program. The free program enables participants to create art, regardless of experience level, and promotes feelings of well-being. Individual pieces in the Flowers exhibit are for sale. Your purchase of a unique artwork will help fund the Art in Medicine program, bringing comfort and cheer to cancer patients.

Blue Flowers_0.jpgA special reception for patients, caregivers, proton alumni and the public will take place at the gallery on January 26, 5-7 p.m.

The reception will feature

  • complimentary refreshments
  • handcrafted flower corsages available for a suggested donation of $5 each
  • framed art created by children and adults with cancer available for $100 each

All proceeds benefit the Art in Medicine program at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

Ten Years. One Mission. Cancer Free.


By staff

We’ve had a lot of “firsts” in our first decade. Here are a few worth noting that took place in January:

January 2007 – Began treating cancers of the central nervous system, brain and chordomas.

  • Performed the 1000th proton therapy treatment less than six months after opening
  • Opened the second gantry treatment room

January 2012 – Published an article in the journal Cancer that reported excellent quality of life for men 60 years old and younger treated with protons for prostate cancer. Erectile Function, Incontinence, and Other Quality of Life Outcomes Following Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer in Men 60 Years Old and Younger

January 2012 – Published an article in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics reporting that patients treated with protons for prostate cancer had excellent tumor control and minimal side effects.

Mendenhall NP, Li Z, Hoppe BS, Marcus RB Jr, Mendenhall WM, Nichols RC, Morris CG, Williams CR, Costa J, Henderson R. Early outcomes from three prospective trials of image-guided proton therapy for prostate cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Jan 1;82(1):213-21. Epub 2010 Nov 17. PubMed PMID: 21093164.

January 2013Dedicated Aud’s Chime

January 2016Announced expansion and upgrade plans

Proton alum and her family share their gratitude, gifts

By staff

The Believe Foundation_0.jpgLast month a young patient alum named Carolina and her family stopped by the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute with a surprise. They brought a very generous donation of 27 ($25) Wal-mart gift cards, 7 ($50) Wal-mart gift cards and toys that filled the entire toy closet at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. The donation was made possible through a foundation the family has started called The Believe Foundation.

The family has a Facebook page and described the foundation in the following post:

One day in December, 2014, I came home to Carolina and Nicole counting the money in their piggy banks. They each counted out $50 and wanted to buy presents for other children who would be in the hospital during Christmas. Michael agreed to put in $50, and Tabitha and I matched their money. We shared the story on Facebook and almost $3,000 was raised in five days. Little did we know, this small act of compassion by my kids would be the seed that would blossom into a God calling. 

Today, this journey has transitioned into a journey that is centered on others. Hearing that your child has cancer can attempt to take you to a very dark place of anger and bitterness. We have the Hope of Jesus, but not every family knows that Hope. We want to share the light and love of Jesus Christ to those in need. Believe Team Carolina has slowly grown into The Believe Foundation. 

The immediate goal of the foundation is to provide gifts for children that will spend the Christmas holiday in Wolfson Children’s Hospital, receiving treatment at the UF Proton Health Proton Therapy Institute or those that will visit the oncology clinic at Nemours.

We thank Carolina and her family for the tremendous gifts that will bring comfort and joy to so many children.

DONNA Health Expo

By staff

Donna Booth 2016_0.jpgThe 26.2 with DONNA: The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer has become a staple of the annual events calendar in Jacksonville for runners and spectators alike. Held each February in Jacksonville Beach since 2008, the marathon is dedicated to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer treatment and research.

Part of the marathon weekend is a health and fitness event, the DONNA Expo, at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, 1000 Water St., Jacksonville. The free expo is February 10 and 11 and includes breast cancer health information booths, fitness and running attire vendors, food and nutrition displays and more. UF Health Proton Therapy Institute will have a booth to distribute information about proton therapy for breast cancer. It is a great opportunity to spread the word about proton therapy and to support the cause to finish breast cancer.

Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngProton therapy for children with cancer can mean the difference between a life with severe challenges and one with minimal treatment side effects. Since day one, we have created a specialized pediatric proton therapy team with people who are highly trained and skilled in treating children. The program has grown during our first 10 years to be the largest of its kind worldwide, treating 25 to 30 children per day.

This month we are in the process of renovating our pediatric recovery room to enhance the healing environment. It is also the time of year we have an annual visit from “Santa Joe,” a treasured gift from proton alumnus Joe McGee that always brings cheer to our children and staff. Soon we will be unveiling a new iPad® app just for children being treated here. These extras are possible through the generosity of individuals, many of whom are proton alumni. During this gift-giving season, please consider making a gift to our pediatric program. Your donation will make a significant difference in the life of a child who has cancer.

Best wishes to you and your loved ones for a happy holiday season.

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Melissa Burhans, The Heart of Third & Main

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Melissa Burhans adorns her office with greeting cards from her proton friends.

People from all walks of life find a home away from home at Third & Main, a short-term patient housing complex in Jacksonville’s historic Springfield community. Fully equipped with every modern convenience, the 35-unit complex is within two miles of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, an easy commute to daily treatment. Residents are almost all proton therapy patients and quickly become neighbors who look out for each other, socialize together and often become lifelong friends after their six- to eight-week stay.

The reason Third & Main quickly feels like home, residents say, is because of the property manager Melissa Burhans. “She’s got a really dynamic personality. The way she treats people, she’s interested in their lives. She has a passion for helping people,” said Scott Drosos of The Villages, Fla., who stayed at the apartments while he was having proton therapy for prostate cancer.

In fact, helping people and creating a comfortable, welcoming place for them, Melissa says, is the best part of her job. “That’s the most important part of my job is the personal connections,” she said. “If it means coming in a little early or staying late to do paperwork I don’t mind. As long as I have time to sit and have morning coffee and pastries with people and get to know them and introduce them to other people who have the same interests, that’s what’s most important.”

If it feels to patients like Third & Main is part of the Institute, that’s intentional. Melissa said she takes her cue from watching Bradlee Robbert, patient services director at the Institute, and the way he interacts with people in the lobby and during the Wednesday patient luncheons at the Institute. “Even though we’re separate organizations, we partner with the Institute so that the experience meshes,” she said.

According to Judy Taylor Holland, community outreach coordinator at the Institute, Melissa has matched the experience successfully. “Melissa is far more than a property manager. Her devotion to our patients and their comfort is demonstrated in the many small and large deeds she takes on for our patients,” Judy said. “She has accompanied many who have needed a trip to the grocery store for supplies in helping to set up their new home. Melissa is known to offer extra activities for patients and their families like game nights, art walks and special dinners. Most recently, she cooked Thanksgiving dinner for 40 residents of Third & Main, knowing that they would be away from home, family and friends during the holiday. Christmas will be a repeat with her adding toys for the children collected through her efforts with the community and Toys for Tots.”

Judy went on to say, “Wednesday patient lunches always include a patient testimonial about the Third & Main experience. By the time these individuals leave our Institute, Melissa has found a place in their hearts that will last for a very long time.”

There are many patients who consider Melissa their friend and stay in touch with her, including Scott Drosos. He has invited Melissa and many of the other friends he made while at the Institute to attend his wedding next April. “I was single, going through cancer alone. If it wasn’t for Melissa I would never have gotten as involved as I did and met so many people and made so many friends. That’s what made the difference for me.”

Recovery Room Renovation Is Underway

From staff

Soon the pediatric recovery room will have a new look. This is a “before” photo.

Thanks to philanthropic support, we are renovating our Pediatric Recovery Room to reflect the exceptional level of care we provide. The room is a vital bridge in the treatment continuum, and the more we can offer in the way of a soothing, peaceful environment, the faster our patients will recover. We will transform the room into a space that provides optimal comfort and privacy for our precious children and their families. The renovations will dramatically improve privacy and comfort, with soothing colors, a more dynamic layout and visual attractions such as LED lighting, video screens and other technology.

“We’re very grateful to our generous donors for their gifts that are making the renovation possible,” said Stuart Klein, executive director.

Golf Wrap-Up

By Judy Taylor Holland, co-chair

Bright and early on Monday morning, November 14, 162 eager golfers teed off on both the Slammer & Squire and King & Bear courses located within the World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Fla. This 12th year for the golf tournament is thankfully a wrap although it was not without a major interruption. 

One foursome among many (l-r) Barbara Fryefield, Cathy Klein, Stuart Klein, Dr. Roi Dagan

On Friday, October 7th, the weekend of the planned tournament date, Jacksonville was in the  pathway of Hurricane Matthew. Luckily we were spared a direct hit, and while some flooding and wind damage occurred along the coast, our facility made it through just fine. This was the first time in the history of the tournament that weather was a critical factor and we might not be able to execute the tournament as planned. How could we complete 2016, the year we would celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Institute, without the much-anticipated golf tournament?

After some intense debate and conversations with our sponsors, the 12th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic was rescheduled. Unlike the previous year where a dinner preceded golf on the night before, it would be a one-day event of golf, silent auction and recognition of our 10-year anniversary.

Celebrating a good shot.

During the awards reception following play, Robert Nelson, a proton alum, shared his experience as a prostate cancer survivor. Jeff Prosser, 1010XL sports radio and a graduate of the University of Florida, generously volunteered his time to become our master of ceremonies for the afternoon. There was plenty of food and fun stories of the morning on the greens. Obviously, it was pretty exciting to shoot a golf ball with an air cannon 280 – 320 yards for an opportunity to win a free vacation trip for closest to the pin.

The Play Golf. Fight Cancer. Classic was created over a decade ago specifically to fund the continuous research that is being conducted by the medical staff. Happily, the 2016 tournament turned out to be a banner year with net earnings of over $200,000 dedicated to our clinical research program.

Taking aim with an air cannon golf ball launcher.

We would like to thank and recognize our anniversary sponsors, Dot Decimal, IBA and the Shepherd Agency. Not only have they contributed to this enjoyable event, they have also helped us become the world-leading proton center we are today. Thanks also to the many other supporting and dedicated sponsors and a hard-working and talented golf committee: Stuart Klein, Dr. Nancy Mendenhall, Melissa Burhans, Molly Dworkin, Jenna Bryan Hobkirk, Bradlee Robbert, Nancy Seely (co-chair), Jason Smith, Melissa Spearman, Ashley Williams, Buzzy Northen and Laura Press.

Executive Director Message


As we prepare for Thanksgiving and the holidays that follow, we pause and reflect on the many blessings that we enjoy.

In my case, I am thankful to be part of an effort that improves the lives of others. I hear extraordinary stories every day about the path our patients endured after their diagnosis as well as the uplifting stories of alumni who are able to continue living their lives to the fullest. I’m thankful for our patients and alumni whose commitment to a cancer-free future is a true inspiration. I’m thankful for our wonderful staff and volunteers who selflessly work daily miracles. And last but certainly not least, I’m thankful for our supporters in our community and throughout the world that help spread the word about the power of proton therapy. Their generosity provides resources and donations that support the research and treatment performed every day at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

Through our collective efforts, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has been a welcoming place for the past 10 years where those diagnosed with cancer can receive the treatment they need and a hope for a bright future. Again, my heartfelt thanks and wishes for a wonderful start to the holiday season.

Stuart L. Klein

Survivor Spotlight: Peter Lowry

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

As a registered nurse, Peter Lowry knew his symptoms meant something was wrong with his liver.  He never expected to hear that the liver problem was actually caused by a tumor in his pancreas blocking the biliary duct. Peter first underwent surgery, but because of the location of the tumor it could not be removed entirely. His surgeon gave him months to live. But Peter sought a second opinion, which led him to a clinical trial conducted by Dr. R. Charles Nichols, Jr., associate professor of radiation oncology at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Peter became one of the first pancreatic cancer patients at the Institute to have an aggressive treatment combination of proton therapy and chemotherapy. Peter’s pancreatic cancer was already at a stage three and classified as “incurable,” however he was able to tolerate the amount of radiation needed to kill the cancer cells because of the targeted precision of the proton beam that spared healthy surrounding tissues. Today, Peter is living without any detectable cancer, has celebrated one more year of life and looks forward to many more.

Hear more of Peter’s story in this video.

Survivor Spotlight: Nancy Baker

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Nancy Baker 1_carriage_0.jpgIt started with a nagging cough. Conscientious about her health, Nancy Baker sought medical advice, and for three years her cough was treated as an allergy symptom. She eventually went to a pulmonologist and discovered in 2014 that she had lung cancer. A tumor was located in the center of her chest – in her lung and wrapped around her heart. It was not possible to surgically remove the tumor because of its location, so chemotherapy with radiation therapy was recommended as the course of treatment. Nancy had worked as an emergency room nurse at both UF Health and Baptist Health, and she understood the potential side effects of treatment. “I just knew I didn’t want traditional radiation,” she said.

She met with Dr. Bradford Hoppe, associate professor of radiation oncology at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, who believed proton therapy could help her. She said, “Dr. Hoppe fought with the insurance companies and was turned down three times. Then a clinical trial came up.” It was a cooperative group trial being done at cancer centers across the country and it would mean the treatment would only be available through a randomized flip of the coin. Nancy enrolled in the trial and was randomly selected to receive proton therapy.

“It was a blessing to have the clinical trial,” said Nancy. While she was on treatment she said her quality of life was not really affected very much. She had some tiredness and some skin discoloration at the proton entry point. She received chemotherapy and noticed that others at the infusion center being treated for lung cancer were having a tougher time. “I saw other people and I realized I wasn’t doing so bad.”

Nancy said the doctors and staff made her feel at ease during a very trying time. “These people treat you like you’re royalty. People know your name when you come for your appointment. Even two years later, they know who I am. If I had to have cancer, this is the place to have it.”

Not too long after she completed treatment, she resumed her normal active lifestyle: golfing, tennis and bowling. Now, two years later, she is still going strong. She said, “I can’t thank UF Health and Dr. Hoppe enough for saving my life.”

Paying it forward

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

Cancer Free. That is the hope of many people that walk through our doors every day. Thanks to the support of many, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute continues to advance cancer treatment and research that changes lives for the better.

November 15 is recognized as National Philanthropy Day® and we’d like to celebrate by thanking the many cancer survivors, family, friends and others who support our mission to offer cancer patients the best chance of cure with the least chance of side effects.

Every philanthropic act – big or small – has an enormous impact on the program and spirit at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Some of our young alumni have been busy “paying it forward,” giving to others in response to kindness shown to them, to spread the hope of a cancer-free future:


Rebecca Duff came to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute from Scotland. She was diagnosed with an ependymoma brain tumor at 20 years old. Prior to her diagnosis, Rebecca and some friends formed a group and began organizing fundraising activities for a friend receiving cancer treatments. When Rebecca found out about her brain tumor, the group was keen to continue the fundraising efforts to give back.

“I wanted to do something to give back to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute because it was a fantastic place that made me feel safe and welcome while undergoing treatment,” Rebecca recalls.

Exploring her adventurous side, Rebecca and her friends had been raising money through various activities, including skydiving, to give back. They also created and sold wrist bands and held a coffee event. Earlier this year, Rebecca handed over a big check for £650 (or approximately $805 US dollars) representing the money she had raised to help others like her receive cancer treatment.

Rebecca and her group of friends are continuing their passion to help people who are going through similar experiences and will continue to hold fundraising events, including a masquerade ball and ladies’ night event.



Jake Teitelbaum was diagnosed with refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 21. He battled through rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant then, shortly after his 22nd birthday, Jake underwent proton therapy. Throughout treatment, Jake met other people dealing with cancer that did not have as many resources as he did. While a chronic illness takes a toll on a person’s body, Jake believes it shouldn’t also have a debilitating impact economically. He came up with an idea – a sock business called Resilience – that will help fund cancer treatment expenses for people in need. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to a specific financially-strapped patient Jake has partnered with. Resilience was officially launched in September of this year and has already raised more than $800 for Resilience’s first recipient, a 14-year-old boy who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Jake says that he is excited to launch another custom sock design and will announce the second recipient this month. As Resilience grows, Jake also plans to branch out and help people with other illnesses in addition to cancer.

As Jake says, “The Resilience project is about fighting to become stronger. Stronger in body. Stronger in mind. Stronger in spirit. It’s about embracing terrible circumstances to learn and grow as a person. It’s about sending support, love, and of course, awesome socks, to someone who needs it.”



Nia Taylor-Jones, a 13-year-old from Wales in the United Kingdom, stopped by for a visit the week before Halloween to deliver sacks brimming with candy. She and her family were vacationing in Orlando and on their last day made a special trip to Jacksonville to deliver the treats along with a plaque of appreciation. She remembered the fun Halloween activities for children while she was on treatment for an orbital tumor in 2012. Now, four years later, she wanted to give something back and show her appreciation for all the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has meant to her.

Nia, her grandmother Lynette Goddard, and her uncle James Taylor-Goddard presented a plaque to Daniel Indelicato, MD, associate professor of radiation oncology at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and director of the pediatric program, Amy Sapp, RN, director of pediatric nursing, and Kimberly Ely, child life specialist. The plaque reads: “Nia Taylor-Jones & her family would like to dedicate this with love & affection to our friends at the Jacksonville Proton Therapy Institute for making a difficult time so easy to deal with.”

To learn more about how to support the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, please visit: www.floridaproton.org/news/give-support.

2016 Excellence Award Honoree: Roscoe Barksdale

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

(l-r) Stuart Klein, Executive Director; Roscoe Barksdale; Dr. Michael Good, Chairman, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Board of Directors

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute presented its 2016 Excellence Award to Roscoe Barksdale during a ceremony earlier this month. The award was established last year to recognize someone within the proton family, for example, employees, vendors, philanthropists or volunteers, who has made a significant contribution to the culture of excellence and patient care at the Institute.

Roscoe joined the Institute several years ago as a G4S private security guard working Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Since day one, he has gone above and beyond the call of duty and demonstrated a commitment to excellence that is exemplary.

He doesn’t stop with his duties of keeping patients and staff safe, but also looks out for the welfare of each person. In typical Roscoe fashion, he downplayed his contribution by saying, “I basically fit in and try to be of service if needed.” Executive Director Stuart Klein in his remarks said, “I can tell you from personal experience that Roscoe more than fits it. He has become, in many ways, the face of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. We conduct exit interviews with nearly every patient, and one of the first comments patients make is how Roscoe greeted them every day and made them feel welcome.”

Roscoe is a people person. He goes out of his way to smile and chat with everyone. He said helping people get in a good mood goes a long way to how they do with their treatment. Roscoe doesn’t like to see sad faces so he does what he can to be cheerful to help motivate patients to do what they have to do to get well.

As one patient wrote: “Dear Roscoe: You are one of the reasons why I have found Florida Proton so comforting. Wishing you the best.”

National Radiologic Technology Week

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

Therapists_Walt Disney and Friends_0.JPG
The team of radiation therapists dressed up for the Institute’s annual Halloween festivities.

Exceptional health care is the result of a team of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals working together toward a common goal. In our case it is the goal of a cancer-free future with minimal chance of side effects.

In honor of National Radiologic Technology Week® (Nov. 6-12), we would like to recognize and thank all of the radiologic technologists at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute for their dedication and passion, making this hope a reality for our patients and  alumni. The designated week raises awareness of the important role medical imaging and radiation therapists have in patient treatment and care. They are the ones responsible for operating the equipment, for preparing and positioning patients for each treatment and scan, and for helping patients feel at ease during the procedures.

Throughout the week, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute physicians and staff show their appreciation through a variety of ways to help the therapists know how important they are to the Institute and to the profession.

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is proud to honor and recognize the incredible work each staff member makes in the lives of our patients and alumni.


Health fair celebration continues

10year-logo_0.jpgThe celebration continues in honor of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s 10th anniversary. Alumni, family, friends and other members of the community are coming together to celebrate continued health and the advancement of proton therapy. The next event will take place on November 17 at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel on the Jacksonville Riverfront. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Each event includes fun games and prizes, massages, information on living a healthy lifestyle from a number of community resources and UF Health representatives, and how and why clinical research plays an important role at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. The event will also have opportunities to raise support for these research efforts.

We look forward to seeing you there. 

Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngIn spite of Hurricane Matthew grazing the Jacksonville coast Friday, Oct. 7, we endured. Many patients and staff evacuated their homes and dozens of adults and children sheltered at our facility. Thankfully, the storm was far enough offshore to keep the strongest winds from reaching us. Flooding was not an issue at the Institute, but areas at the beach, including St. Augustine, experienced storm surge. We were back to business-as-usual on Monday, Oct. 10. Several patients completed their course of treatment that day and rang the chime. To all who went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure our patients’ needs were met with as little disruption as possible, thank you.

Stuart L. Klein

Survivor Spotlight: Tynette Cherry

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

When Tynette Cherry was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 she knew she was in good hands. From an early age she had annual mammograms and checkups with her doctor because of a family history of breast cancer. As soon as the diagnosis was made, her UF Health primary care physician assembled a team of physicians at the academic health center. The surgeon, oncologist and radiation oncologist worked out a treatment plan for her that included chemotherapy to shrink the orange-sized tumor, surgery to remove most of the mass that was attached to her chest wall, and radiation, including proton therapy, to destroy the remaining tumor. Nearly four years later, Tynette is cancer-free and says that proton therapy saved her life. “I don’t feel that I would still be here without it, and I’m so very appreciative,” she said.

Hear more of Tynette’s story in this video.

Amy Sapp – Unsung hero of pediatric proton therapy

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

AmySapp1_0.jpgPediatric cancer patients have been a top priority at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute since the very beginning. In fact, one of the first people hired in 2006 was the Director of Pediatric Nursing Amy Sapp, a nurse who has dedicated her career to caring for the most vulnerable children. She has helped thousands of people in her career – from babies born prematurely to children at the end of life – and as the primary pediatric nurse at the Institute she has cared for more than 800 children with cancer.

One of the most significant milestones reached in the first decade of the Institute is growing the pediatric proton therapy program into the largest worldwide. On average, 25 children are treated daily. Amy credits the phenomenal nursing staff, physicians, radiation therapists, social workers and all the staff for this success. Daniel J. Indelicato, M.D., Director of the Pediatric Program, credits Amy. “I do not know anyone who works harder than Amy. Her effort and hard work are the primary reason for the success of the UF program,” he said. “She is the irreplaceable glue that holds our program together.”

Dr. Danny describes her as an inspiring leader who is smart, organized, professional and devoted to her patients. “I would say for the past 10 years, Amy has never taken an hour off work. By that I mean, even during the weekend, vacation, or evening, she will take responsibility for critical issues that arise. She does this because she cares immensely about her patients.”

As the pediatric program grew and eventually became the primary proton therapy provider to patients from the United Kingdom, Amy realized quickly that changes were needed to handle the highly complex cases. She streamlined the patient intake process, placing the pediatric nurse as the first and main point of contact for families. Parents rely on the nurse to manage all aspects of the referral, approvals, medical records and care. Amy acknowledged it is more work for the nurses, but it is worth it for the benefit to families. “I didn’t want parents to have that burden. It makes coming for treatment easier for families because they already have a relationship with their nurse case manager,” she said. “What would you want if it were you?”

Dr. Danny agrees that Amy’s leadership in merging the intake and nursing roles has been a game-changer for the pediatric program and one of many of her contributions to the success of the program. Putting patients first is fundamental. “Her most important overall contribution is represented in the meaningful connections she makes with our patients and families,” he said. 

The relationships with patients and families are the best part of the job, said Amy. She finds it especially rewarding when patients come back for not a follow up visit but just to visit. The patients also form lasting friendships with each other and many stay in touch, take vacations together and spend holidays together. Amy said, “Playing a small part in that is rewarding.”

Golf Tournament Fundraiser Rescheduled


The 12th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic has been rescheduled to Monday, November 14, 2016. The event was postponed from its original October date due to Hurricane Matthew. The tournament will take place at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., on both signature courses – The King & The Bear and The Slammer & Squire. For more information, visit playgolffightcancer.org or call Judy Holland at (904) 588-1401.

10th Anniversary Health Fair November 17


Mark your calendar to attend the next in our series of health fairs. Join us November 17, 2016, from noon to 4 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel on the Jacksonville Riverfront. Admission is free and includes food, games and prizes, massages, health screenings and information on living a healthy lifestyle.



Executive Director Message

Numbers like 99 percent, 94 percent and even 74 percent when placed in context can tell a great story. In this case, they tell the story of thousands of men who have been cured of prostate cancer with proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute since 2006. These numbers represent the excellent outcomes for low-risk, intermediate-risk and high-risk prostate cancer patients treated five years or longer ago at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute who are today cancer-free.

The story is just as impressive for the excellent quality of life men have following proton therapy for prostate cancer. Less than one percent of men experienced bowel function issues and less than three percent experienced urinary function issues. These numbers tell the story of thousands of men who go on to live life as usual with no lasting problems caused by their treatment.

We are proud to tell this story. We are proud to help our patients go on to live life to the fullest.

Men Wear Gowns, Too

Men Wear Gowns Too - Tim Deegan
First Coast News chief meteorologist Tim Deegan

“Sometimes men have to wear gowns,” says chief meteorologist Tim Deegan of First Coast News in a new promotion called Men Wear Gowns, Too. Early detection is an important part of success in treating and curing many kinds of illness. It’s a reminder to men to take an active role in their health by having regular preventive screenings for prostate cancer and other health conditions.

We are partnering with First Coast News to get the word out that health screenings are not just a concern for women, it’s important for men, too. Dr. Nancy Mendenhall, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute medical director, was interviewed about men’s health and prostate cancer screenings. She said men need to take responsibility for their health and actively seek the best treatment options for their diagnosis.

Dr. Mendenhall went on to explain that prostate cancer when caught early has the best chance for cure. With proton therapy, the five-year prostate cancer patient outcomes are excellent according to a UF Health Proton Therapy Institute study published earlier this year. When looking at the five-year results of more than 1,300 men, the cancer-free rates are 99 percent for low-risk, 94 percent for intermediate-risk and 74 percent for high-risk prostate cancer.

Look for Dr. Mendenhall’s interview on First Coast Living, broadcast on WTLV NBC 12/WJXX ABC 25, Friday, Sept. 16 or online at firstcoastnews.com.

Survivor Spotlight: Alex Barnes

By Theresa Makrush

First United Kingdom patient now eight years cancer-free 

Patients travel from around the globe to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute for cancer treatment that is not available in their home countries. From the early days to the present day, people seek the expert medical team and cutting-edge technology at the Institute to give them the best chance for cure with the least risk of developing side effects. It is why Rosalie Barnes brought her four-year-old son Alex in 2008 all the way from the United Kingdom, the first patient from the UK treated at the Institute.

Watch Alex’s story:



Words of Celebration

Words of Celebration ArtIt has been a wonderful decade full of growth, happiness and life-changing health care for the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. To keep the excitement and festivities going, our patients have been hard at work creating another art gallery exhibit to mark the occasion. The focus of the exhibit – words. Something as simple as a kind word can make a positive imprint on someone’s life forever. Words have power and patients are using them to inspire, support and demonstrate joy for our anniversary celebration. The new exhibit, "Words of Celebration," is now up for viewing.

We’d love to hear what words of celebration you have to inspire, support and celebrate. Share your word with us on our Facebook (@FloridaProton) or Twitter page (@UFProtonTherapy).

Words of Celebration Art Work


Helping kids kick cancer

Subway Helping Kids Kick Cancer Promotion

Since 2011, Subway restaurants in Savannah and Macon, Georgia, have set up an in-store fundraiser called The Children Fund to support our pediatric program. Customers were encouraged to donate one dollar toward the cause in return for a discounted meal. This year, The Children Fund has raised more than $9,000.

Children deserve the chance to enjoy life — even though they have been diagnosed with cancer. Through Subway’s Children Fund campaign, more than $40,000 has been donated to help support this mission and provide funding for our world-renowned Child Life program, family fun nights, transportation, artist and art supplies and more.

We’d like to say a special thank you to Savannah and Macon Subway restaurants and to all who participated. Your donations will help children fight cancer and have a better quality of life.

Teeing up to fight cancer

12th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.®Join the fellowship and fun of the 12th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic. UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s primary fundraising event is Oct. 9-10, 2016, at The World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Fla. There’s still time to register to play and to sponsor the annual tournament and festivities that provide crucial support for research efforts at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

The event kicks off with a dinner and silent auction on Sunday, Oct. 9. For all who register as a player, you automatically have a ticket to the dinner. However, tickets to attend just the dinner and silent auction are also available for those who do not wish to play golf.

The golf tournament will be played Monday, Oct. 10, on both of the official courses of the World Golf Hall of Fame. The King & Bear is a course that has the distinction of being the only design collaboration between namesakes Arnold “The King” Palmer and Jack “The Bear” Nicklaus. The Slammer & Squire is a championship resort course designed by Bobby Weed with consultants Sam “The Slammer” Snead and Gene “The Squire” Sarazen.

Your support ensures the continued growth of our clinical research program, gathering the data that is necessary to advance the understanding of proton therapy. A special thanks to our anniversary sponsors IBA, .decimal and Shepherd.

Please join us in support of proton therapy research and register today at www.playgolffightcancer.org.

Or to donate or support the cause in some other way, if you are not available for the event, please contact the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute:


Health Fairs To Kick Off 10th Anniversary Celebration

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute 10 Year LogoAs part of the 10-year anniversary of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, we’re throwing health fairs to celebrate your continued health and the advancement of proton therapy. Admission is free. Each event will include fun games and prizes, massages, information on living a healthy lifestyle from a number of community resources and UF Health representatives, and how and why clinical research plays an important role at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Each event will have opportunities to raise support for these research efforts.

All alumni, family and friends are invited to attend. The next health fairs are scheduled for November 17, 2016, and January 26, 2017, at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel on the Jacksonville Riverfront.


Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngOur anniversary slogan – “10 Years. One Mission. Cancer Free.” – is a motto we live and breathe every day at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. It represents the power of protons and the hope that is felt throughout the halls.

From our first patient in August 2006 to the patients going through treatments today, thousands of lives have been impacted by proton therapy. As we look back on the accomplishments of proton therapy and how the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has been at the forefront of a revolution in radiation oncology, none of it would have been possible without all of you.

I want to personally say thank you to our superb staff – for providing expert treatment in a way that takes the whole person into account. Thank you to the various research teams – for your commitment to the advancement of proton therapy. And a big and special thank you to our patients, alumni and caregivers, whom we have come to regard as an extension of our family – for your unwavering support throughout the past 10 years.

I encourage you to visit www.floridaproton.org to learn more about important milestones, research and other advancements in proton therapy over the past 10 years at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

Here’s to another 10 years and more,

Stuart L. Klein

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Celebrates 10 Years of Treatment

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

The first proton therapy cancer center in the Southeast celebrates its 10th year of bringing state-of-the-art radiation oncology treatment to cancer patients. Since August 2006, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has been committed to delivering advanced, noninvasive cancer treatment in a way that takes the entire patient into account so they can have the best chance to beat cancer and live life to the fullest. The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is recognized internationally as a leader in proton therapy and has earned numerous rankings and recognitions, including:

  • Number one pediatric program, treating more pediatric patients daily than any other proton center in the world
  • Fourth largest proton therapy provider in the world for total patients treated
  • Among the top-rated cancer centers in Florida, designated a Florida Cancer Center of Excellence
  • The only proton therapy center in Florida that is accredited in radiation oncology by the American College of Radiology

When the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute opened its doors in August 2006, proton therapy was a new cancer treatment to the Southeast United States. Since then, the institute has offered more than 6,400 patients from 30 countries a promising alternative to traditional radiation. Today, the Institute is equipped to treat more than 20 different types of cancer and treats approximately 100 patients each day.

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is looking toward the future with a $39 million expansion currently underway. The centerpiece of the multiphase project is the addition of a compact, single-room treatment system. The 10,000-square-foot expansion includes both an accelerator, used to speed up the protons, and a treatment gantry equipped with pencil beam scanning – an advanced proton therapy delivery technique for increased precision. When the addition is completed, the facility will have five treatment rooms – four gantries and one fixed beam room – and will increase patient capacity by approximately 25 percent. These updates will also enhance efficiency, patient and staff safety, and treatment accuracy.

 “The past 10 years have been an exciting and rewarding experience. We have seen firsthand the power of proton therapy work for thousands of people who have walked through our doors. The precision of proton therapy increases both the chance for a cure and the chance of avoiding radiation-induced side effects for many of our patients in both the short and long term,” said Nancy Mendenhall, medical director at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “Over the next 10 to 20 years, I believe the field will continue to advance and we’ll see even more demand for proton therapy as the radiation oncology treatment of choice for numerous malignancies.”

 “Celebrating our 10-year anniversary is a significant milestone. As avid believers in the power of proton therapy, we continually strive to advance the field through groundbreaking research and to deliver the highest standard of care to help all who come through our doors have the best possible experience throughout treatment and beyond,” said Stuart Klein, executive director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “It’s for this reason that the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is regarded as one of the world’s foremost leaders in radiation oncology.”

With proton therapy, cancer patients have had access to one of the most advanced, noninvasive cancer treatments available. Proton therapy delivers a precise radiation treatment while destroying cancer cells and minimizing damage to healthy tissue. This reduces side effects and lessens the risk of developing complications from treatment later in life. It is especially beneficial for treating cancer in children and adults with cancers in sensitive areas like the head, neck, lung, breast and prostate.

Located in Jacksonville, Florida, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is staffed, situated and structured as a major clinical research facility, and serves as a center for multidisciplinary research involving all interests that touch cancer and its treatment.


Survivor Spotlight: Ben Smith

First patient treated enjoying life after the cure

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

SHANDS JPGS-9595_0.jpgThe past 10 years have been eventful for 64-year-old Ben Smith. He and his wife, Lisa, have raised two children, restored a 36-foot sailboat, spent months sailing around the Bahamas and are planning other trips around the world. Enjoying life has always been a priority for Smith, even after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005.

Smith, a now-retired aerospace engineer, did his own research on prostate cancer treatment after his urologist had suggested a radical and potentially life-altering treatment. His search led him to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, then still under construction, and he would become the first person treated at the facility. For background on Smith’s diagnosis and treatment, read a previous article, “Moving on from prostate cancer.” 

“You have to be your own advocate. Many doctors recommend the treatment they know best – but that might not mean it’s the right path for you to take. Of course, the end game is to get rid of cancer. But when you come out on the other side, you also want to have a decent quality of life.”

“When I was first diagnosed, I was scared. I was a young man, had teenage kids, a beautiful wife and I felt like I had just received a death sentence. But, it’s not. It’s a curable disease and proton therapy allows many people to keep living and not be straddled with devices and diapers,” said Smith.

Smith recalls that he had no reservations about waiting a year for the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute to open for treatment as he felt it was his only viable option. When he arrived at the treatment facility the first day it was open in August 2006, to him it felt like they had built the facility just for him.

“You don’t just have a doctor and a therapist, there’s also a team of physicists, computer programmers, software engineers, hardware engineers and company representatives all looking at you and your little walnut-sized prostate, in my case. I always felt that I was well taken care of and the staff was so dedicated and simply unbelievable from day one,” Smith notes about his initial impressions of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “I went through 29 treatments and never felt like I was over radiated and I never got burned. I also did not and do not suffer to this day from impotency and incontinence – common side-effects from more conventional, radical forms of prostate cancer treatment.”

“My doctor had said to me that I can’t say that I’m ‘cured’ from cancer for at least five years after treatment. Well, it’s 10 years later and I’m proud to say that I’m cured. I’ve beaten prostate cancer and, thanks to proton therapy and the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, I’ve been able to maintain a fairly active lifestyle and just live a regular life.”

Smith and his wife are currently visiting their adult children in the western U.S. and will be spending a few months in New Zealand. They have closed the book on cancer and are enjoying life to the fullest.

Training the next generation of experts

By Rozina Behrooz

Untitled.pngAs part of an academic health center, a fundamental component of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is education. Our doctors are not only providing cutting-edge treatment, they are also training the next generation of radiation oncologists. This includes current students from universities across the country, and radiation oncology residents and fellows from UF Health Shands, the Moffitt Cancer Center and the Mayo Clinic, to name a few. In addition, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute was the first to launch a radiation oncology fellowship dedicated to the subspecialty of pediatric proton therapy in 2011.

Here is an overview of the residency and fellowship program:

What is the difference between a resident and a fellow?

After completing four years of medical school, doctors may choose further specialization through post-graduate trainings as a resident and then as a fellow.

Resident: A resident is a doctor, training in a specific field. Residency length varies with different specialties. For radiation oncology, it is five years; one year in internal medicine and four years in radiation oncology.  They are called residents because they basically live (or reside) in the hospital or medical facility in which they are training. However, in most facilities the resident is supervised by an attending physician (also known as a staff physician) who must approve all decision-making by the resident.

Fellow: A fellow is usually someone who has completed their residency but pursues additional training in a subspecialty of that field of training.

How does the UF Health Proton Therapy residency program work?

Each University of Florida (UF) resident that comes to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute from Gainesville is here on a six-month rotation; three months with pediatrics and three months with adults.

Most of the non-UF residents that come to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute work with the pediatric program. They often come from Mayo Clinic, Moffitt and other nationally known programs. Sometimes, residents from other institutions will come to work with just the adult patients, but not often.

How does the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Fellowship Program Work?

We usually have two or three long-term fellows both in adult and pediatrics. They come from different locations for one year with an opportunity of renewing their contracts for another year if they wish. Dr. Matthew Hall, Dr. Natalie Logie and Dr. Ronica Nanda are the current long-term fellow physicians at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

Short-term fellows are usually here for no more than one month and typically come from UF Medical Oncology, UF Palliative Care and Nemours Children’s Hospital. Also, several times during each year, we have physicians from the United Kingdom that get funded by their institutions to have a short-term fellowship here.

What about all those medical students who are always around?

We usually have dozens of medical students each year who work with different physicians as part of their official rotations. They use this time to help them decide if radiation oncology is the right specialty for them to pursue.

Teeing up to fight cancer

Untitled2.pngJoin the fellowship and fun of the 12th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic , UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s primary fundraising event, is Oct. 9-10, 2016, at The World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Fla. There’s still time to register, volunteer and/or sponsor the annual tournament and festivities that provide crucial support for research efforts at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

The event kicks off with a dinner and silent auction on Sunday, Oct. 9. For all who register as a player, you automatically have a ticket to the dinner. However, tickets to attend just the dinner and silent auction are also available for those who do not wish to play golf.

The golf tournament will be played Monday, Oct. 10, on both of the official courses of the World Golf Hall of Fame. The King & Bear is a course that has the distinction of being the only design collaboration between namesakes Arnold “The King” Palmer and Jack “The Bear” Nicklaus. The Slammer & Squire is a championship resort course designed by Bobby Weed with consultants Sam “The Slammer” Snead and Gene “The Squire” Sarazen.

The annual fundraiser has raised more than $1 million that has directly impacted lives through the groundbreaking research being conducted daily at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Over the past decade, in pursuit of the most accurate, effective practices and treatment, the Institute has conducted more than two dozen clinical trials and numerous peer-reviewed studies, including a 5-year study on prostate cancer outcomes. To date, more than 6,400 patients from 50 states and 30 countries have received proton therapy at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and we currently have 21 active clinical studies. Importantly, approximately 98 percent of our patients participate in a registry study to track outcomes following treatment and 31 percent of patients are enrolled in clinical trials, while the national average of clinical trial participation is 3 percent.

Your support ensures the continued growth of our clinical research program, gathering the data that is necessary to advance the understanding of proton therapy.

Please join us in support of proton therapy research and register today at www.playgolffightcancer.org. To donate or support the cause in some other way, if you are not available for the event, please contact the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Phone: (904) 588-1401 Email: playgolffightcancer@floridaproton.org

Health fairs to kick off 10th anniversary celebration

FPT_10yrs_FullColorCMYK_rsg_0_0.jpgAs part of the 10-year anniversary of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, we’re throwing three health fairs to celebrate your continued health and the advancement of proton therapy. Each event will include fun games and prizes, massages, information on living a healthy lifestyle from a number of community resources and UF Health representatives, and how and why clinical research plays an important role at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Each event will have opportunities to raise support for these research efforts.

All alumni, family and friends are invited to attend. The first health fair will take place Thursday, September 15, from 12 – 4 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel on the Jacksonville Riverfront.

Other health fairs are scheduled for November 17, 2016, and January 26, 2017.


Untitled3.pngWhen: Saturday, August 27

Where: The Jacksonville Landing

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in America, and unfortunately, it's on the rise in women. On Saturday, August 27, at 8 a.m. at the Landing, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is participating in the third annual LUNG FORCE Run/Walk 5K. The Run/Walk raises awareness of lung cancer and other lung diseases. To show our unity in the battle of lung cancer, we invite you to participate for free. In addition, each participant will receive a UF Health Proton Therapy Institute t-shirt to wear the day of the race.

There’s still time to register. Signing up is simple and free for all patients, alumni, families, friends and staff. Follow the steps below: 

  1. Log onto www.lungforce.org/runwalk
  2. Type the zip code, 32206, in the city search.  Your computer will automatically go to a new page
  3. Click on LUNG FORCE Run/Walk – Jacksonville, FL-Jacksonville Landing
  4. Click the “Register” icon
  5. Click “Join Team”
  6. In the “Team Name” box, type UF Proton and search for a team
  7. Click “Join” to join Team UF Proton
  8. Continue to follow the steps
    1. Repeat process for all new participants
  9. Use the code UFPROTON for free registration for all participants
  10. Please feel free to make a donation to LUNG FORCE
  11. After you complete your registration, email Brad Robbert brobbert@floridaproton.org with the name and shirt size for everyone you registered.  

Free to Breathe 5K

FreetoBreathe_Logo_Horizontal_RGB-HEX.pngWhen: Sept. 10, 2016

Where: The Jacksonville Landing

Free to Breathe is a national organization that aims to double lung cancer survival by 2022. The 5K walk is a fundraiser for lung cancer research and educational materials for patients and families. The nonprofit organization has awarded more than $5 million for lifesaving research since 2005. In addition, Free to Breathe invests in research and programs aimed to increase the number of patients in clinical trials, such as a matching service that helps pair patients with the clinical trials right for them and finding solutions to overcome barriers to clinical trial participation.

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is a proud sponsor of the Free to Breathe Walk and we’re inviting you to join us on Sept. 10 at the Jacksonville Landing. For more information on the event and to register, visit freetobreathe.org.

Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngApprehension. Fear. Uncertainty. These are common feelings for patients and their families, whether they live nearby or are far from home. Easing anxiety can improve patients’ and caregivers’ ability to cope with treatment. It is why we have intentionally created opportunities for people to participate in healthy activities that relieve stress such as art projects, yoga and social gatherings. I invite you to read in this issue about one patient’s experience overcoming fear and also about a research study that analyzes the experience of pediatric patients and their families from the United Kingdom.


Stuart L. Klein

Patient Spotlight: Dr. Arthur “Art” Rocker

Overcoming fear of cancer and treatment with proton therapy

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

Art Rocker_0.jpg
Dr. Curtis Bryant (left) says farewell and congratulates Art Rocker (right) following Art's last proton therapy treatment

Fear is a word Reverend Dr. Arthur “Art” Rocker is familiar with. With four close family members and numerous friends who have been diagnosed or passed away from cancer, when Rocker received his own diagnosis of prostate cancer, “fear” is the emotion that filled his body. Fear that his outcome would be similar to countless others in his life; fear that he would have to experience the same symptoms and side effects; fear of an uncertain future. However, as Rocker looks back on his life and experiences, fear can also be a positive emotion. The right amount, he believes, can be used as a springboard to propel you to do great things.

From a young age, Rocker has been a civil and human rights activist, leading others and standing up for those who need a helping hand. In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Rocker founded the organization Operation People For Peace, Inc. (OPFP) to provide a voice to the people along the Gulf Coast and to help them get back up on their feet. OPFP has since grown to provide advocacy and to serve underrepresented communities around the world.

Rocker was first introduced to proton therapy while on a business trip for OPFP speaking with men who he found out also had personal experiences with other treatments for prostate cancer, including robotic surgery and other conventional treatments. Every man he spoke with told Rocker of the negative side effects they experienced with their treatments. While none of the men had undergone proton therapy, one of them suggested Rocker look into it.

After researching his options, Rocker made his first treatment appointment at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. On his first day of treatment Rocker felt that familiar emotion of fear and canceled his appointment. He eventually scheduled another and on the day of treatment, he canceled again. A third time Rocker made the decision to move forward with proton therapy and this time it was for good. Rocker completed his treatment earlier in July and celebrated the milestone as every patient does by ringing Aud’s Chime, a large chime suspended in the main lobby. The fear he originally had had dissipated and has transformed into hope – hope for the future and strength to continue living his life to the fullest.

Throughout his treatment, Rocker continued to fly around the country serving others. He would hop on a plane, fly to a community in need and come back in time for his daily proton therapy treatment. The next day he would do it all over again. Rocker recalls that this would not have been possible had he experienced any of the side effects the men he previously spoke with had through other treatments.

“Proton therapy is an ideal cancer treatment for the businessman or woman. More than 20 different kinds of cancers are treated with proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and treatment is less radical and less invasive than other options. It allows you to go through your treatment without the side effects that disrupt your daily life,” said Rocker. “Many other people who are predisposed to cancer should know about the benefits of proton therapy and should be able to have access to the best treatment available.”

“While the nature of my work doesn’t allow me to talk about my problems as I’m focused on helping others, my life is a testimony to the power of proton therapy.” Post treatment, Rocker’s mission has remained the same – to ensure his children and others like them have the opportunity to grow up in good communities and a better world.

“Embrace the fear and keep it alive. Let it drive you to accomplish positive things. Have patience and be Christ-like and you’ll make it.”

Health fairs to kick off 10th anniversary celebration

FPT_10yrs_FullColorCMYK_rsg_0_0.jpgAs part of the 10-year anniversary of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, we’re throwing three health fairs to celebrate your continued health and the advancement of proton therapy. Each event will include fun games and prizes, massages, information on living a healthy lifestyle from a number of community resources and UF Health representatives, and how and why clinical research plays an important role at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Each event will have opportunities to raise support for these research efforts.

All alumni, family and friends are invited to attend. The first health fair will take place Thursday, September 15, from 12 – 4 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel on the Jacksonville Riverfront.

Other health fairs are scheduled for November 17, 2016, and January 26, 2017.

Advanced technology for prostate cancer patients available at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

SpaceOar before and after_0.jpgThe targeted, precise treatment available through proton therapy has helped countless individuals treat cancer with little to no damage to surrounding healthy tissue. UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is on the forefront of another advancement to further help prostate cancer patients have a better quality of life during and post treatment.

The SpaceOAR System, a soft gel-like material that temporarily increases the space between the prostate and the rectum, is now available for qualified prostate cancer patients. By separating the prostate from the rectum, the SpaceOAR System further reduces or eliminates the chance of the radiation dose reaching the rectum. Other technology used for this purpose includes rectal balloons that are inserted prior to treatment.

 SpaceOAR hydrogel is put in place prior to treatment through a minimally invasive procedure. It stays in the body for three months during radiation treatment and is then naturally absorbed and cleared in the patient’s urine in about six months. The temporary gel spacer is safe to use in the body and is mostly made of water.

Prospective prostate patients will be deemed medically eligible for the SpaceOAR System by their physician after consulting and imaging studies have been completed. For more information, talk to your physician and visit www.spaceoar.com

Providing comprehensive family-centered pediatric oncology care

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

Noah Edgar and his parents traveling to Jacksonville from England for treatment.

Traveling to a different town, state or even country to receive treatment for their child’s cancer is a difficult experience for any parent. Extra pressure is on parents who must navigate unknown waters in an unfamiliar place often without their support system at home. Recently, published research shows that while traveling to receive proton beam therapy is not without difficulties, the programs and resources available in the United States are clearly helpful in facilitating the adjustment and turn what could be a negative experience into a positive one.

The article “The ‘radiation vacation’: Parents’ experiences of traveling to have their children’s brain tumors treated with proton beam therapy” discusses insights from research on the experiences of parents from the United Kingdom whose children have had brain tumors treated with proton therapy in the United States. Data analyzed from participating parents, many of whom brought their children to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, suggests that the time during proton therapy appears more positive than the periods before or after it. These findings are remarkable and contrary to previous research that suggests the time during cancer treatment is psychologically hardest for parents.

The findings expressed in this article reflect testimonies from parents with children being treated at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and validate the investment we make in our pediatric social services program. We know that pediatric tumors and cancer impact the whole family, which is why we are focused on providing holistic family-centered care. The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute employs a full-time Child Life Specialist who focuses on the well-being of each child throughout treatment. Behind-the-scenes pretreatment tours, age-appropriate videos, activities and interactive iPad applications help children feel more comfortable before their treatment and eliminate surprises and anxiety from both the patient and the parents. Ongoing psychological assessment and supportive counseling is provided by our dedicated pediatric social worker in addition to school advocacy, and a vibrant adolescent and young adult program.

Aside from professional support, the article also found that social interaction and distractions with other families are an important part of finding benefits during treatment. With 90 percent of the children treated at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute coming from outside of Jacksonville, including a large number from other countries, providing resources, organizing outings, family dinners and programming for pediatric patients and their families is a large part of the focus our team provides alongside cutting-edge cancer treatment. 

Over the past 10 years, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has treated more pediatric patients than any other proton center in the world. Our goal for the next 10 years and beyond is to continue to provide the highest standard of care across every spectrum and to help all that come through our doors have the best possible experience throughout treatment and beyond.

ASTRO honors two UF Health Proton Therapy Institute physicians

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

Dr. & Dr. Mendenhall 1_0.jpgFor their dedication and contribution to the advancement of radiation oncology, Dr. Nancy Mendenhall, medical director of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, and Dr. William Mendenhall, physician at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, were named American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Fellows. Nancy and William Mendenhall join eight other distinguished ASTRO members in the 2016 class of fellows.

The ASTRO Fellows designation honors individuals who have significantly added to the field of radiation oncology in the areas of research, education, patient care or service and leadership. Designees also have been a member of ASTRO for at least 15 years, giving the equivalent of 10 years of service to ASTRO through committee service and similar activities.

With a combined 50 years of experience in radiation oncology, both Nancy and William Mendenhall are internationally recognized for their contributions to the field. They are frequent contributors to medical journals and are regularly invited to speak at national and international oncology conferences.

 “We congratulate Drs. Nancy and William Mendenhall for receiving this well-deserved, prestigious honor from ASTRO. Each of the qualifying attributes for this appointment speak to their tremendous skill, passion and commitment,” said Stuart Klein, executive director of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “Through their leadership and dedication to radiation oncology and proton therapy, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has achieved both a national and international reputation for providing cutting-edge, quality care and research.”

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is committed to delivering advanced, noninvasive cancer treatment in a way that takes the entire patient into account so they can have the best chance to beat cancer and live life to the fullest. Exemplifying this approach to treatment, Nancy and William Mendenhall have played a critical role in developing a proton therapy program that is among the top-rated cancer centers in Florida and the only proton therapy center in Florida accredited in radiation oncology by the American College of Radiology.

Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngWe are very fortunate that 12 years ago, before we were even open, a benefactor stepped forward to establish the Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic, a golf tournament to raise money for our clinical research program. We rely on the proceeds from this charitable event to supplement our research budget. Here is an example of why funding research is so important.

Recently we published a study on breast cancer that initially only had funding for 12 patients, but needed to expand to 18 to allow an even number of left-sided and right-sided breast cancer patients to enroll in the study. We reallocated funds from our operating budget to make it possible to expand the study. This research led to the discovery of critical evidence that proton therapy spares all patients’ hearts and lungs from large doses of radiation. If it were not for the additional funds, this important discovery may have been delayed, or worse, may have never happened.

I hope you will consider supporting our research program this year through sponsoring or participating in the 12th annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic.


Stuart L. Klein

Study: Proton therapy effectively targets breast cancer with curative radiation doses while nearly eliminating radiation to the heart

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Proton vs photon dose_0.jpgResearchers at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute have reported that for women with breast cancer, proton therapy can significantly reduce and in some cases nearly eliminate the dose to the heart, even when the lymph nodes overlying the heart need to be treated. In addition, proton therapy may reduce the exposure of the lung by 30 percent to 50 percent and provide better dose coverage to the lymph node regions as compared with conventional radiation.

These early results are from a pilot study conducted at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and published last month. Initial Report of a Prospective Dosimetric and Clinical Feasibility Trial Demonstrates Potential of Protons to Increase the Therapeutic Ratio in Breast Cancer Compared with Photons. (May 2016, International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics)

Eighteen women, nine with left-sided breast cancer and nine with right-sided breast cancer, were enrolled in the prospective study and followed for 20 months by lead researcher Julie A. Bradley, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and faculty member at the University of Florida College of Medicine’s Department of Radiation Oncology.

In every patient, the proton plan was superior to the conventional plan in reducing the amount of radiation to the heart and lungs.

To learn more, click to read an interview with Dr. Bradley about the study.

Survivor Spotlight: Proton alum and teammates win national title at USTA Championship

Suprise 11_0.jpg
National Champions Tennis 8.0 Seniors. Honored to play with these guys! An Undefeated Team in 16 Matches. Pictured from l to r: Dickie Anderson, Howard Rugaber, Randy Scott, Mark Levy, Jimmy Parker, Joe Simon, not pictured Ron Hale

A recreational tennis player since his thirties, proton alum (2009) Howard Rugaber didn’t expect that at age 66 he would be a national champion. But, to his surprise, he and his doubles teammates rose through the ranks to win the National USTA 8.0 championships held in Surprise, Ariz., in April.

“I was asked to be on the team in June of last year,” said Howard who lives in St. Simons Island, Ga., where he owns and operates a landscaping company. “A friend of mine who I play tennis with from Columbus, Ga., was putting together a team to beat the other GA teams in the state tournament. When he asked me, I said, ‘I don’t play much doubles, but I’ll be happy to be on the team.’ I learned a lot on the way.”

The way ended up being a state tournament win in Savannah, Ga., that led to a regional tournament win in Dothan, Ala., ending in the national title win in Arizona.

Howard said the team practiced hard between tournaments to be ready for the competitions. Judging by their athletic achievement, you would never know that some of the players had previously had knee replacements, hip replacements, and proton therapy for prostate cancer.

When Howard was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he talked to friends and a fellow tennis player about it and they told him about their success in beating the disease with proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. As a University of Florida alum, it was an easy decision for him to have proton therapy in Jacksonville. 

“I was very fortunate. I was kind of a poster child for all the treatments. I had no negatives associated with it,” Howard said. Even with a three-hour round-trip commute to receive daily treatment he maintained his regular schedule. “I worked every day, and I played tennis almost every day. I didn’t really get tired like some people do who get radiation.”

More than six years post-treatment, Howard and his wife Trish, whom he met while in college at UF, enjoy spending long weekends in the Jacksonville area at the beaches in Ponte Vedra and playing tennis with friends.

Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® registration is now open

We invite you to register as a sponsor or player at the 12th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic: October 9-10, 2016. The event will take place at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. A celebratory dinner and silent auction will take place on October 9, 6 p.m., at the World Golf Village Renaissance Hotel. Golf will be played October 10 on both the Slammer & Squire and King & Bear courses. Registration begins on course at 7 a.m. An awards party will be held at the Slammer & Squire Clubhouse immediately following play.

For information on sponsorships and tickets, please visit www.playgolffightcancer.org

The research program at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute

For an overview of the research program, how it works and why it matters, we invite you to watch this online video.

Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngNurses are the most trusted professionals in the United States according to the most recent Gallup survey.1,2  Eighty-five percent of respondents rated nurses as having very high or high “honesty and ethical standards.” In fact, nurses have ranked number one on the list since they were added to the survey in 1999. The bond between patient and nurse is undeniable and never more apparent than at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

May is the traditional time of year that we honor nurses as National Nurses Week is observed May 6-12. Our highly skilled nursing professionals include specialists in adult radiation oncology, pediatric radiation oncology and clinical research. As case managers, nurses are involved from day one in developing every patient’s care plan. They counsel patients on what to expect during treatment and beyond. They set patients at ease by providing knowledgeable answers and effective solutions to health concerns that may develop during or after the course of treatment. It is common for our nurses to go the extra mile to give patients that added bit of comfort, support or encouragement to keep on track with treatment for the best possible outcome. We thank all of our nurses for their commitment to excellence.


Stuart L. Klein

1. http://www.gallup.com/poll/187874/americans-faith-honesty-ethics-police-rebounds.aspx?g_source=Social+Issues&g_medium=newsfeed&g_campaign=tiles

2. PDF

Patient Spotlight: Noah Edgar

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Family_0.JPGAt just 20 months old, Noah Edgar of Colchester, England, is a happy, curious, busy toddler playing at the beach. Passersby may think he is in Jacksonville, Florida, with his family for vacation. They would be surprised to discover Noah is here for cancer treatment.

Last December, Noah had an eye infection. His parents Gemma and Rob took him to the doctor. After the infection was healed his doctor detected a tumor in the retina. 

Retinoblastoma is an uncommon pediatric cancer of the eye. It begins in the retina, ocular tissue that lines the back of the eye, senses light and sends images to the brain. In the United States, retinoblastoma accounts for about 3 percent of cancers in children younger than 15 years – about 4 cases per million. Retinoblastoma is sometimes caused by an inherited gene mutation; when it occurs in both eyes, it is always the result of a gene mutation. It most often occurs before the age of two, with 95 percent of retinoblastoma diagnosed before the age of five. The tumor may affect one eye (about 75 percent of cases), or both eyes (25 percent of cases). The prognosis for retinoblastoma is good if the tumor is identified early. More than 90 percent of retinoblastomas that do not spread beyond the eye will be cured.

In Noah’s case, the tumor had become so large that it had detached his retina causing him to lose sight in the affected eye. It was decided his best chance for cure was to remove his eye surgically and follow it up with proton therapy and chemotherapy.

This news was a jolt to the family. “It’s the worst thing as a parent to hear that your child has cancer,” said Noah’s dad Rob. But the Edgars said they are confident in Noah’s prognosis after having surgery by the top specialists in England and now proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

Proton therapy will deliver targeted radiation to the area where the tumor was removed in order to reduce the chance for recurrence. Because proton therapy does not penetrate beyond the treatment area, there is little chance of unnecessary radiation exposure to Noah’s remaining eye or brain allowing him to retain his sight and IQ.

Rob said that people should be aware of symptoms of retinoblastoma. If one of your child’s eyes look unusual in a flash photograph, it could indicate a tumor is present in the eye that is not reflecting light. The earlier a tumor is detected, the better. He recommends taking your child to an optician on a regular basis to have their eyes checked.

While they are in Florida, the Edgars are making the most of every day. It’s an attitude the couple chose when Gemma was treated for a brain tumor just months after Noah was born. “It’s hard, but we both have a positive outlook,” she said. Rob added, “Yes. There have been dark days and sad days. But we want to live for every day. Our other son Dylan is four years old and we try to carry on as normal.”

Most days after Noah’s proton therapy session, the family plays at the beach or the pool. One weekend they went to an amusement park in Orlando and to the Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, Florida. They have plans to visit Savannah, Georgia. “We try to have fun whenever we’re not in hospital,” said Gemma.

Ray Lewis named a Champion of Veterans Honoree

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Ray Lewis_0.JPGEach year the National Association of Veterans and Families (NAVF) honors companies and organizations that support the veteran community and honors a standout employee who exemplifies the true meaning of values taught by the military: sacrifice; passion for what they do; one who demonstrates the ability to improvise; adapt and overcome; and most importantly leadership characteristics in their daily work.

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s machinist Ray Lewis was selected as a 2016 Champion of Veterans honoree. He was honored at an awards banquet on May 6 at The University Club in Jacksonville.

One of the essential components of a proton therapy patient’s treatment is the creation of customized devices — compensators and apertures — that are made in the exact size and shape of the tumor area being treated. The aperture is milled out of solid brass and matches the width of the treatment area. The compensator is milled out of clear Lucite that matches the height of the treatment area. Stacked and attached to the end of the treatment nozzle during each treatment, these custom devices shape the proton beam as it passes from the proton beam line into the patient.

Ray Lewis is one of the people responsible for fabricating these devices. Ray joined the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute staff as one of its first employees, after retiring in 2005 from a 20-year career in the Navy. “I’m what you call a conventional machinist. Lathe, milling machines, shaping machines, boring mills, grinders. Typical machines you would find in a good size machine shop,” said Ray. He planned from the beginning to make this a job he could stay with until he retires from civilian work. “I love the job. I remember when I came in and did the interview I told Dr. Li [Zuefong Li, DSc, director of medical physics], like a lot of military people, I commit and stick with it.”

Evidence of his level of commitment started from day one. Ray recalled, “I started on the seventh of August and the following week was when they were going to treat the first patient. When I started and we were doing orientation in the Tower [a separate building from the proton therapy institute], they called me out of the orientation to fabricate the device for the first patient.” He willingly left orientation and made the devices that would be used to treat the first patient on August 14, 2006. From that point forward he has milled countless devices for hundreds of patients.

During his nine years at the institute, Ray has gained the admiration and respect of everyone he works with. He has been nominated for the UFHPTI Shining Star Award, a peer-recognition program at the institute for employees who exemplify excellence.

Jeff Rexford is the site manager for IBA, the manufacturer of the proton therapy equipment. Jeff and his team are responsible for running and maintaining the proton therapy system. Jeff said, “I have known Ray since I first began working for IBA in January of 2007.  In that time I have had the pleasure of working closely with him on many technical projects. Ray has taken his position to something much higher than a normal machinist’s position. He has shown great inventiveness and dedication to improve many aspects of the machining process. Ray’s dedication and professional expertise has driven a few important improvements to the development of patient plans. It is with Ray’s knowledge that we will also increase the efficiency of the in-house fabrication, and reduce the outsourcing of patient specific devices.”

Ray is known for going above and beyond the call of duty. He says it is because he enjoys the work. “As with most places what makes it enjoyable it’s usually the people that you work with. The people I interact with, the dosimetrists, the quality assurance people, the physicists, I haven’t really had a bad experience with any of these people. Basically, they let me do my job. I know what my job is and they allow me to do it, and I like that,” Ray said.

The chief dosimetrist Debbie Louis oversees the department that uses computers to design and program the treatment plans. These are then transferred to the machine shop to create the devices. 

Debbie said, “Ray is always willing to adjust his work schedule to accommodate clinic needs, even at the last minute and always with a smile. If he says he can get something done, you can be sure it will be done. Ray is a pleasure to work with and a real asset to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and our patients.”

As the senior-level machinist, he is often called upon to make the more complex patient-specific devices. Even on his days off and vacation days, Ray willingly comes in to help if needed. Holly Mostoller is the human resources director and recalled one such occasion. “On August 8, 2014 in the early morning Dr. Hunter was in need of having new apertures made for an eye patient. The machinist on duty that day did not start until later in the afternoon and Ray was on vacation. I was unable to reach the on-duty machinist first and then reluctantly called Ray to see if he would be willing to come in to quickly produce the equipment for Dr. Hunter so the patient could start treatment right away. Ray gladly agreed and came right in and completed the process allowing the patient to start. All on his last day of vacation and right before the weekend. Ray is a very dedicated employee who helped out in a time of need when it was not required of him."

“I have personally always found Ray to have the most positive attitude every day he comes to work. He is exceptionally loyal to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and very passionate about the cancer treatment we deliver here,” said Holly.

Ray’s military service spanned a period that included several significant historic events. He remembers in 1991 transporting and loading ammo on submarines to support Operation Desert Storm. He was at Guantanamo Bay when the mass migration from Cuba and Haiti in 1994 occurred and the whole base was covered in tents and camps as people sought asylum in the U.S. In 2001 he volunteered to do a second tour at Guantanamo in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. An old friend of his had returned there working at the brig and he needed some people to help. So Ray volunteered and served as Assistant Brig Officer in Charge, including a six-month stint as Officer in Charge while waiting for a replacement due to personnel retirement. He stayed there until 2005 when he retired as a Petty Officer First Class after 20 years of Navy service.

Ray settled down in Jacksonville, where he had purchased a home while he was stationed at Mayport (1998-2001). During his time in Guantanamo Bay, he formed many close friendships, people who have also retired from the Navy and settled in Jacksonville. His best friend still lives in Guantanamo, a Cuban exile and his wife who live on the base. His best friend has cancer, and Ray helps by sending essential medical supplies. “I’m always anxious when I take the medicine to the base for shipment. I worry about missing the transport. He needs it to keep alive,” Ray said.

It’s the ultimate care package from a man who always goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Aloe Plants

Aloe horizontal close_0.JPGThe Men’s Garden Club of Jacksonville is putting its green thumb to work for the good of patients having radiation treatment for cancer. Several aloe vera plants are nestled in the tropical garden located in the main lobby below the staircase for patients to take home with them. Check with your medical team to see if this natural balm is right for you. Then help yourself to an aloe plant.

The sap of the aloe plant is easy to use. Simply snap off a leaf and squeeze to extract the gel-like fluid onto the affected skin. The most common benefit is a cooling or soothing sensation that eases discomfort from minor burns.

Here are some tips for tending your aloe plant:

Unless you live in an area with a very mild climate, it's best to leave your aloe plant in the pot and place it near a window that gets a lot of sun. Aloe vera is a succulent, and as such, stores a large quantity of water within its leaves and root system.

During the winter months, the plant will become somewhat dormant, and utilize very little moisture. During this period watering should be minimal. Allow the soil to become completely dry before giving the plant a cup or two of water, just enough to moisten the soil.

During the summer months, the soil should be completely soaked, but then be allowed to dry again before re-watering. Aloes have a shallow, spreading root system so when it is time to repot choose a wide planter, rather than a deep one. Use a planter with a drainage hole, or provide a 1-2 inch layer of gravel in the bottom of the pot to ensure adequate drainage. Use a good commercial potting mix with extra perlite, granite grit, or coarse sand added. You may also use a packaged 'cacti mix' soil.

Aloe vera plants are propagated by removing the offsets which are produced around the base of mature plants, when they are a couple inches tall (or larger).

Retrieved from: http://www.thegardenhelper.com/aloe~vera.html

Message from the Executive Director


StuartKlein.pngClinical care and clinical research are essential to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s mission. Our purpose is to give patients the best quality cancer treatment. Careful planning and attention to detail goes into every single patient treatment, beginning with the development of treatment protocols and clinical trials. We invest heavily in research because we want to see a day when all patients with cancer are cured and none are burdened with side effects of treatment.

Since opening in 2006, our clinical researchers have published more than 130 articles in peer-reviewed journals. The best available evidence in the field of proton therapy is presented in the current issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics. Among more than 70 articles accepted for publication in the issue, only 20 deal with actual treatment outcomes, including six UF Health Proton Therapy Institute articles reporting patient outcomes following proton therapy for five types of cancers – stage IIA - IIIB breast cancers; sinonasal cancers such as olfactory neuroblastoma, squamous carcinoma and adenoid cystic carcinoma; chordoma and chondrosarcomas of the sacrum, cervical spine and thoracolumbar spine; stage III non-small cell lung cancer; and stage T1 - T3 prostate cancers.

Our investment is paying off. Meaningful data is being generated that helps us understand the effect of proton therapy on many kinds of cancer and how patients’ bodies respond to the treatment. We are encouraged that proton therapy is able to meet or exceed standard treatment cure rates, often with a reduced risk of side effects. These discoveries lead to more exploration and will continuously improve patient treatment for years to come.


Stuart L. Klein

Patient Spotlight: Sophia Gall

Australian teen packs positive attitude in dealing with osteosarcoma

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

IMG_5504.JPG A positive attitude has taken 14-year-old Sophia Gall far. Even through a tough year of cancer diagnosis and treatment, Sophia continues smiling and is determined to find the good in a bad situation.

Her desire to make others aware of proton therapy and encourage other cancer patients, especially teens, prompted her to start a YouTube channel. She has posted several videos since the first week of January 2016 that describe her medical journey.

 “A lot of people go through stuff like this. And people don’t know what to expect and I want to show others about it,” she said following one of her last proton therapy sessions for osteosarcoma. “When you’re dealing with cancer, it doesn’t just stop you. You still get good things that happen.”

Because of the location of the tumor in her pelvis, Sophia was not a candidate for surgery. Her treatment option was a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Sophia’s dad began researching radiation therapy options and discovered the benefits of proton therapy. Unfortunately, it is not available in Australia where the family lives, so he sent Sophia’s records to six proton therapy centers around world to get their opinion on whether they would accept her for treatment and estimates for the cost of treatment. Sophia’s radiation oncologists recommended that he include UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and Dr. Daniel J. Indelicato in the review. The physicians were comfortable with Dr. Danny and the program at the Institute – the treatment and the facility.

At the same time, he wrote to the Health Minister and other elected officials to petition support of expediting review of Sophia’s case by the health agency that could approve funding for proton therapy abroad. Time was critical since the window to begin radiation following chemo was limited.

According to her parents Linda Fleming (Gall) and Mark Gall, their daughter spent seven months in hospital for 22 rounds of chemotherapy that took a significant toll. Prior to her illness, Sophia was physically active, playing soccer and swimming competitively. She was involved in the theatre arts dancing and acting. The chemotherapy left her very weak and she either walked with support or was transported by wheelchair. She was on a feeding tube for six months and bedridden for four months. Her weight dropped to 87 pounds, which for her height of 5’10” was quite low.

Things started to turn for the better in early October after Sophia began a new steroid medication to control the persistent nausea and her pain medication was better managed. She started gaining weight, regaining her strength and feeling more like her usual self. Even more reason for optimism, scans confirmed that the tumor was responding to the chemo.

She flew from her home in Australia on January 18 to the United States for proton therapy in Jacksonville, Fla., at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

“If someone with cancer was coming here, I would tell them don’t worry about anything,” said Sophia. “Everyone is so amazing. You make friends for life. It’s almost like when you come here, everyone has been through the same thing. People get it.”

Her mom Linda added “There’s just no stress. You don’t have to worry about anything.”

While in Jacksonville, Sophia enjoyed shopping at the St. Augustine Premium Outlets, the St. Johns Town Center, the Avenues Mall and the shops in San Marco, which was within walking distance of the apartment they rented. Sophia remarked that she enjoyed being outdoors and even walked to her appointments at Nemours Children’s Specialty Care.

Ten weeks after arriving in Jacksonville, Sophia headed back home on March 27, looking forward to seeing her brother, friends and school. She is especially anticipating the eight-week school trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, that they have been planning since she was five years old. Her mom Linda said, “The school principal told us even if he had to carry Sophia on his back, Sophia would go.” Indeed, Sophia’s positive attitude is taking her far.

Large-scale proton therapy study confirms long-term survival, quality of life for prostate cancer patients

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute reports excellent tumor control rates, low incidence of gastrointestinal or urologic toxicity

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

prostate_research_300x300.jpgA large-scale study of men treated with proton therapy for prostate cancer confirms proton therapy is a highly effective treatment for low-, intermediate-, and high-risk prostate cancer. The cohort of 1,327 men was treated at the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute between 2006 and 2010 with median follow-up of five-and-a-half years.

Researchers report that 99 percent, 94 percent and 74 percent of men with low-, intermediate-, and high-risk prostate cancer, respectively, have no signs of cancer recurrence after five years of follow-up. Less than one percent (0.6 percent) in the cohort experienced serious gastrointestinal side effects and approximately three percent (2.9 percent) experienced serious urologic side effects.

“This study is the largest published series to date documenting the efficacy of dose-escalated proton therapy for localized prostate cancer with prospectively collected patient-reported quality of life and toxicity data,” reported lead researcher Curtis Bryant, M.D., M.P.H., UF Health Proton Therapy Institute radiation oncologist, in the article Five-Year Biochemical Results, Toxicity, and Patient-Reported Quality of Life Following Delivery of Dose-Escalated Image-Guided Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer.1  The study is published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics (IJROBP), the main journal of the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

The primary goal of the study was to find out if the results from three benchmark clinical trials2 with prospectively reported data by UF Health Proton Therapy Institute could be replicated in a larger population of unselected consecutive patients treated in a similar fashion. The researchers also wanted to identify factors that could predict either disease recurrence or urologic toxicity.

Proton therapy is a form of external beam radiation therapy that uses the positive-charged particles of atoms, protons, to deliver targeted treatment in cancerous tumors.

Tumor control data

The new study confirms similar results as the benchmark study for rate of tumor control in low-risk (both 99 percent) and high-risk prostate cancer (74 percent in the new study vs. 76 percent in the benchmark study). Intermediate-risk prostate cancer tumor control was slightly lower in the new study – 94 percent vs. 99 percent in the benchmark study. The reason for the difference in patient outcomes in intermediate-risk is unclear, researchers say, though may be related to a larger, broader sample of patients in the larger study. Overall, the presence of more than one intermediate-risk or high-risk factor may predict whether the disease will recur following treatment.

Toxicity data

Toxicities were graded using the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 4.0 (CTCAEv4). Incidence of serious urologic toxicity in the larger series study is 2.9 percent vs. 1 percent in the benchmark study. Incidence of serious gastrointestinal toxicity in the larger series study is consistent with the benchmark study, 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

The risk of developing a serious urologic toxicity  appears to be higher in men who have one or more of the following predictive factors: a large prostate volume, pretreatment use of alpha blockers, pretreatment prostate reductive (TURP) procedures, diabetes, or a higher volume of bladder tissue receiving a dose of 30 Gy (RBE).

Quality of life data

Patient-reported quality of life scores following proton therapy for prostate cancer were good for urinary and bowel function, but significant decreases were seen in sexual function. Comparing pretreatment scores with scores at five years after treatment, the median baseline International Prostate Symptom Score remained unchanged. Similarly, the median and mean EPIC summary scores for bowel, urinary irritative/obstructive, and urinary incontinence domains remained relatively stable. The only significant change reported was in sexual function scores. Between baseline and 5 years, mean scores in patients not receiving hormone therapy declined from 67 to 53 and median sexual summary scores fell from 75 to 55.

Comparative effectiveness

Currently there are no published prospective clinical trials comparing proton therapy with other forms of external beam radiotherapy that use X-rays to treat prostate cancer, intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and 3-dimensional conformal photon radiation (3DCRT). A few retrospective studies comparing proton therapy and IMRT have been published in recent years, however, the reliability of the study conclusions is limited since the studies had short follow-up, lacked treatment-related information (e.g., radiation dose, field size), lacked toxicity grading and reporting, or lacked quality-of-life patient-reported outcomes. “Prospective comparative studies are needed for definitive comparison of proton therapy with IMRT,” concluded Bryant.

About prospective clinical trials

Prospective studies have an advantage over retrospective studies because they are prospectively designed to answer a specific study question. In addition, participants must meet specific criteria for inclusion and exclusion in order to reduce the chance that results will be confused by confounding variables. Finally, specific times and methods of collecting the information on cancer control and problems related to treatment are defined. These factors improve the quality of the data and potential reliability of the conclusions associated with these studies.

About proton therapy

Proton therapy is a type of radiation treatment that uses particles of an atom, protons, to deliver radiation. Protons have the potential to improve the therapeutic ratio in patients: delivering more curative dose in the tumor while delivering little or no dose to surrounding healthy tissue, thereby increasing the chance for cure and reducing the risk of side effects. Until recently, only a handful of academic medical centers in the U.S. were equipped with proton therapy. Today, 23 facilities offer proton therapy in the U.S, but access remains limited. Approximately one million people are treated with some form of radiation annually in the United States.3   Proton therapy accounts for an estimated one percent of those treated.

1. Bryant C, Smith TL, Henderson RH, Hoppe BS, Mendenhall WM, Nichols RC, Morris CG, Williams CR, Su Z, Li Z, Lee D, Mendenhall NP. Five-Year Biochemical Results, Toxicity, and Patient-Reported Quality of Life Following Delivery of Dose-Escalated Image-Guided Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer. International Journal of Radiation, Oncology, Biology, Physics. 2016; 2016;95(1):435-43.

2. Mendenhall NP, Hoppe BS, Nichols RC, Mendenhall WM, Morris CG, Li Z, Su Z, Williams CR, Costa J, Henderson RH. Five-year outcomes from 3 prospective trials of image-guided proton therapy for prostate cancer. International Journal of Radiation, Oncology, Biology, Physics. 2014;88:596-602.

3. Statistics About Radiation Therapy. Rtanswers.org. http://www.rtanswers.org/statistics/aboutradiationtherapy/. Last modified June 13, 2013. Accessed April 18, 2016.

Vendors selected for expansion, upgrades project

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

photo.JPGThe University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute has announced vendor selections for its $39 million expansion and upgrades. The project is being managed by the University of Florida Planning, Design & Construction Division.

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has signed an agreement with IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A.) to install the proton therapy equipment manufacturer’s compact Proteus®One system. The single-room treatment system is the centerpiece of the multiphase project announced earlier this year. IBA will also install advanced treatment technologies to the existing proton therapy system.

The construction manager selected for the 10,000-square-foot expansion is Gilbane Building Company. The company’s Jacksonville office will oversee the project. Gilbane has extensive experience in building hospitals and health care facilities, including multiple proton therapy facilities in the United States.

The architectural firm chosen to design the expansion is Walker Architects, Inc. Based in Gainesville, Florida, recent projects include the renovation and expansion of the University of Florida’s J. Wayne Reitz Union.

Save the date for annual fundraiser


The 12th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic is scheduled for October 9 and 10. Mark your calendar and plan to join us at the World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Florida, for a fun event to raise money for the research program at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Sponsorships are available. For information contact playgolffightcancer@floridaproton.org.




Patient-created artwork for sale; proceeds benefit the arts-in-medicine program

IMG_5490.JPGBy Theresa Edwards Makrush

Every day in the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute main lobby, patients and their caregivers wield brushes, pencils, crayons, and knitting needles to paint, draw, color, knit, and sew their way to their daily proton therapy appointment. They are gently and expertly guided through art exploration by Pamela Gardener and Barbara Fryefield who are each professional artists.

Earlier this year, the artists-in-residence organized the patients in a group effort to create an art exhibit for display in the room where weekly patient luncheons are held. The theme of the exhibit is water. As noted on an exhibit description, water is everywhere in Jacksonville, and bodies of water can change color and appearance depending on the time of day, angle of light, or effects from other elements. “Our artists were asked to look at the water as they travel in and around Jacksonville. Here is what they saw.”

The water exhibit patient-created artwork is being sold to raise funds for art supplies. For more information, contact Development Director Molly Dworkin, mdworkin@floridaproton.org; 904-588-1519.

Message from the Executive Director


The global reach of proton therapy is accelerating with new facilities under construction or in planning stages on nearly every continent. For patients, especially those for whom conventional therapies are not possible due to the location of their tumor or their age, more access to proton therapy will save lives. Many patients travel great distances, some essentially relocating to a new country for several months, for a radiation treatment that will give them the best chance to restore their health. We at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute consider it a privilege and a responsibility to help people overcome cancer and go on to live life to the fullest, whether they are from our neighborhood or from across the ocean. Our international program is one of the largest in the U.S. and we have treated patients from 30 countries. Through direct patient care, published prospective clinical research, and programs to train the next generation of radiation oncologists, we are committed to making a positive contribution to end cancer worldwide.


Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Survivor Spotlight: Lauren Foster

Teen proton alum Lauren Foster and her family returned to Jacksonville to reconnect and offer encouragement

By Theresa Edwards Makrush


A sweet smile lit up 14-year-old proton alum Lauren Foster's face as she talked about her plans for the future. "Going through treatment made me want to go into nursing. Knowing that you're helping somebody get better makes you feel quite happy," she said softly.

Her parents' smiles beamed brightly as they added, "She's taking all the subjects that will hopefully get her into university to do nursing," said mom Emma Allsop. While dad Steve Foster remarked, "Lauren choosing this path is unusual since she does not like the sight of blood, has a fear of needles and doesn't like to see medical procedures even on TV. Her choice shows just how determined she is and has the strength of direction for nursing."

It's the same strength and determination Lauren has displayed during the last four years as she has dealt with treatment for a rare tumor called rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of tumor that occurs in soft tissue. Because of her age and the location of the tumor on the muscle at the back of her palate, she was not a candidate for surgery, and her physicians in the United Kingdom recommended her for proton therapy combined with chemotherapy.

On March 17, four years to the day when they first landed in America for Lauren's proton therapy, Lauren, her parents and her sister, Holly, returned to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute for a follow-up visit with Dr. Danny Indelicato. "We really looked forward to thanking the staff for what they've done for Lauren," said her dad Steve. Lauren added, "I'm looking forward to experiencing everything in America being well."

It was a much different experience than when they were here originally. The fear of the unknown, never having been in the United States before, and being away from their support system of friends and family for cancer treatment was overwhelming at first. 
“The culture of things. Knowing more about the way of life would have set our minds more at ease,” said Emma. After getting over the uncertainty of driving on the right side of the road, adjusting to the way Americans eat and discovering how friendly all the people were, the family began to settle in. 

 Initial fears about the medical facilities and treatment were relieved once they arrived. At Wolfson Children’s Hospital they were pleasantly surprised to have a private room. This allowed the family to stay with Lauren in comfort as she had procedures to implant fiducial markers to aid in positioning for daily proton therapy and a port for her chemotherapy. At the Institute, the family went on an orientation tour prior to Lauren’s first treatment. She was able to see, touch and feel what it was like to lie on the treatment table, allowing her to overcome her anxiety and have her treatment without daily anesthesia. 

Lauren said that proton therapy was not painful. “You don’t feel anything. It’s not as scary as you think it is” she said. “After you’ve done it once, you can do it again,” Lauren said.

They also wanted to encourage others who are facing a similar journey. “No one wants this to happen to their child. But that’s the good that can come out of it. You can share and pass along your experience to help others,” said Steve. Emma agreed. “We would love to have met up with people who were two or three years out. So many questions you want to ask and some you don’t want to ask the doctors,” she said. 

The family was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of everyone, even people who were complete strangers. Steve told the story of how the entire staff of the hotel where they stayed during the nine-and-a-half-week treatment became like family. As an example, every morning they had breakfast in the hotel dining room and the staff noticed how much the youngest member of the family, Holly, loved to make her own waffles every day. At the end of their stay, the staff presented the gift of an industrial waffle maker to the family. Later as the family prepared to leave for the airport, the entire hotel staff gathered in the lobby to wish them well, cheering and applauding.

An act of kindness in the middle of a big-box store remains a vivid memory for Steve. While Lauren was being treated, she was quite sick and it was a struggle to do many outside activities. One day the family was shopping for some necessities and Lauren became fatigued. Steve found a seat in the middle of the store for Lauren to rest. A woman who was shopping noticed Lauren and asked about her condition. After learning from Steve what was happening, the woman asked if she could say a prayer for Lauren. “I said yes thinking that she would go home and say a prayer later. But she got down on her knee in the store and held Lauren’s hand and said a prayer right there. People just continued shopping and walked by without a second thought.” The fact that the woman cared enough to stop and show her concern was surprising enough. Even more surprising was that people didn’t stop and stare and make a spectacle of what was happening. 

They are making new memories on their return trip. Reconnecting with the people and places in Jacksonville they remember fondly and charting new territory as they visit Orlando and the many theme parks. And each family member will get their favorite taste of America while they’re here: Olive Garden for Emma, Chick-fil-a for Steve and Holly and Denny’s for Lauren.

Today, Lauren is cancer-free. She fills her days with school, sports like gymnastics, trampoline, and badminton, and watching her favorite TV shows The Big Bang Theory and Charmed, which she and her family came to know and love while in America.

IBA Proton Therapy Pioneer

By Theresa Edwards Makrush


IBA, the world’s leading manufacturer of proton therapy systems, presented the IBA Proton Therapy Pioneer award to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute during the annual gathering of the IBA global user group this month in Trento, Italy. The award recognizes institutions and teams that have played an extraordinary role in the development of proton therapy’s use as a powerful tool in the treatment of cancers for their patients.

Accepting the award on behalf of the Institute were Zuofeng Li, DSc, director of physics, and Daniel J. Indelicato, MD, director of the pediatric program and William and Joan Mendenhall Endowed Chair of Pediatric Radiotherapy.

The award was presented by IBA Founder and Chief Research Officer Yves Jongen. In his remarks, Jongen acknowledged the contributions of the Institute to the field of proton therapy and radiation oncology.

“In the 10 years that UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has been treating patients, the team has been a role model for the proton therapy community throughout the world. Not only has the team treated one of the largest volumes of patients with the highest standard of quality, including the most pediatric patients of any other center in the world, the team also significantly advanced the science by publishing more valuable research results than all or most other facilities in the world. Dr. Nancy Mendenhall’s launch of a proton therapy journal has been another great gift to the proton therapy community,” said Jongen.

Since opening in August 2006, the Institute has treated more than 6,200 cancer patients, including more than 1,000 children. The clinical research program has generated 127 published articles in medical journals including the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, published by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO); Cancer; Oncology; American Journal of Clinical Oncology; Journal of Urology; and Acta Oncologica. UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Medical Director Nancy Mendenhall, MD, spearheaded the effort to create the International Journal of Particle Therapy that publishes research done in the field of particle therapy including proton therapy and carbon ion therapy.

National Doctors Day

Happy Doctors Day.jpg

March 30 is National Doctors Day, a day set aside to show our appreciation for the dedication, professionalism and compassion physicians commit to healing patients. The radiation oncologists at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute exemplify all that is best about the medical profession. Their leadership in advancing the field of radiation oncology through proton therapy is improving the health outcomes of thousands of cancer patients today and in the future.

A simple way to show appreciation is to tell others about your experience with your physician. You may wish to share your experience with a review on our Facebook page or Google Plus page or take a brief nine-question survey on healthgrades.com. Click on the physician's name below to launch the survey:

Julie A. Bradley, MD

Curtis M. Bryant, MD, MPH

Roi Dagan, MD, MS

Randal H. Henderson, MD, MBA

Bradford S. Hoppe, MD, MPH

Daniel J. Indelicato, MD

Nancy Price Mendenhall, MD

William Mendenhall, MD

R. Charles Nichols, Jr., MD

Ronny Rotondo, MD, CM, FRCPC

Michael Rutenburg, MD, PhD

Up-close encounter with the Jacksonville Armada Football Club

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Armada Fans with Poster.jpg

The Jacksonville Armada Football Club, the city’s professional soccer team, is preparing for its second season in the North American Soccer League (NASL). Regular season matches begin on April 10, but until then several pre-season friendlies give the team and fans a chance to warm up. Thanks to the generous donation of tickets by team owner and CEO Mark Frisch, the crowd at a recent pre-season game included approximately 150 patients, caregivers, medical and administrative staff members of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

The event at Community First Park in the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville was even more special for seven pediatric patients because they were invited to participate in on-field ceremonies. Six of the children took the field with the starting opposing team players as part of The Starting XI, a long-standing tradition in the English Premier League that has spread to other soccer leagues including the NASL. Each of the 11 starting players walks hand-in-hand onto the field with a “match mascot,” a child who aspires to be a professional player. In this way, the players pass along their love of the game to the next generation. One additional child had the honor of raising the American flag for the National Anthem. The children visited with the players pre- and post-game, posed for photos with them and got autographs.

Friends and family in the stands cheered and held up hand-made posters in support of the children and the team. The posters were part of the group art project at the art-in-medicine table in the days leading up to the match.

This up-close encounter is just one of several activities over the past year that the Armada has made available to the Institute’s patients. Last fall, the Armada provided complimentary tickets to a match and to a movie night at the stadium. They also sponsored holiday-themed mugs and hot chocolate at a gingerbread-themed family fun night last December hosted by the Zane Beadles Parade Foundation.

Message from Stuart Klein, Executive Director


Something we invite all of our patients and their caregivers to do is reach out for support. Aside from the medical care patients receive at our facility, we offer many ways for them to meet other patients and their caregivers in organized meetings and informal get-togethers. Often it is the spontaneous connections that patients make with one another in the lobby, at the Wednesday luncheon, or at their temporary housing complex, for example, that can have an enormous positive influence. Whatever your personal style may be, we hope that you will not hesitate to ask for support throughout your medical journey.


Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Patient Spotlight: Wayne Humphreys

Wendy made a “graduation day” card for Wayne when he completed his last treatment.

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

A big-hearted pony named Bouncer and his equally big-hearted owner Wayne Humphreys had lots of love to give — in the form of carriage rides — to pediatric patients and their parents. In return, the children gave extra treats and affection to Bouncer and a positive boost to fellow patient Wayne. “When you’re in a strange place for eight, nine, 10 weeks, to reach out to people is so important,” said Wayne. “It was equally good for me as them.”

Wayne, a retired U.S. Navy Captain who lives in Virginia and in the past had wintered in Florida, was at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute for prostate cancer treatment last fall. His network of Naval Academy alumni, 1964 Cares, pointed him in the direction of proton therapy. A good friend in the group, a retired orthopedic surgeon, told him he needed to look into proton therapy and sent him a list of all the proton therapy facilities in the U.S. 

One of many carriage rides Bouncer and Wayne gave Wendy

Wayne was encouraged when he saw UF on the list. His late wife Sybil Humphreys and a good friend from Kentucky both had received excellent care at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville. He contacted the Proton Therapy Institute and within a day or two had a packet of information. He said the first contact with the intake department re-emphasized his resolve to have proton therapy at the facility.


“It’s not enough to have world-class facilities, you have to have world-class patient services,” said Wayne. “I had high expectations and my expectations were exceeded.”

Wayne stayed at 3rd and Main apartments while in Jacksonville for proton therapy. He brought his pony and three dogs. The pony stayed at Skyway Farm about 15 minutes from the Institute. “I was going out about four or five times a week to drive Bouncer. Most of my appointments were in the early morning so you had all the rest of the day to do things.” All during treatment he felt well enough to carry on his normal activities. He participated in the lunches and dinners arranged by patient services director Bradlee Robbert and other activities with fellow patients. “You see the kids and how going through cancer breaks their hearts. One day I thought, ‘Gee, I could give them rides in the carriage,’” said Wayne.

The first child who rode on the carriage was Wendy Anthony, a 12-year-old girl from Canada having proton therapy for a brain tumor. She and her father, Dave, had become good friends with Wayne as neighbors at 3rd and Main and as fellow patients. She encouraged the other children at the Institute to give it a try, and gradually over the next four weeks up to six children would drive out to Skyway Farm twice a week to visit with Bouncer and go for a ride in the carriage. 

Bouncer, Wendy and her father Dave

“One day there were six or seven children there. I gave them a few lessons explaining the do's and dont's of handling horses,” said Wayne. “Then I told them about Bouncer’s accomplishments. Bouncer is the first U.S. horse or pony to win a Gold medal in international combined driving competition when he won in England in 2005. He was the smallest pony in the competition. Bouncer won because he had the biggest heart and he set his mind to it. We can treat our cancer and win the same way, if we set our minds to it,” he said.

Read more about Bouncer’s and Wayne’s campaign to raise awareness and Federal funding for pancreatic cancer research in honor of Wayne’s late wife Sybil who passed away due to pancreatic cancer in 2011.

Meet Stephanie Saman, Adult Oncology Social Worker

Saman_Stephanie-9727.jpgWe are pleased to welcome to our staff adult oncology social worker Stephanie Saman. Her role is to work with adult patients and families and encourage them to become involved in our community of mutual concern and support. She develops and facilitates support groups for all adult patients as well as provides individual counseling where she emphasizes the importance of human relationships. 

As part of the care team, she consults and collaborates with physicians, nurses and others to ensure the psychosocial needs of patients are met.

Ms. Saman empowers patients and their families to function optimally throughout the treatment process by assisting them in accessing the health care system and community resources available. She engages the community to cultivate enhanced support and resources for adult patients. 

Ms. Saman has a Masters in Social Work from Florida State University and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Association of Oncology Social Work.

- compiled by Theresa Edwards Makrush

Finishing breast cancer is the goal

Juana Gifford and Stuart Klein were two of many booth volunteers.

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Jacksonville native, journalist and philanthropist Donna Deegan founded the first U.S. marathon dedicated to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer treatment and research. Held each February in Jacksonville Beach since 2008, the 26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer has become a staple of the annual events calendar for runners and spectators alike. 

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute participated in the Donna Expo at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in downtown Jacksonville on February 12 and 13. Volunteers from the Institute’s staff distributed information about proton therapy for breast cancer treatment. It was a great opportunity to spread the word about proton therapy and to support the cause to finish breast cancer.

Message from the Executive Director


We are embarking on an exciting period in our history. This year we will mark the 10th anniversary of the first treatment delivered to a patient. We will publish updated results of our proton therapy clinical trials. And we will begin construction of a new treatment room, expanding our treatment capacity and upgrading our technology. These milestones represent our commitment to treating and curing cancer in a way that preserves an excellent quality of life for our “alumni.” I am excited to share this news with you and encourage you to spread the word by forwarding this message to a friend. Wishing you all the best in 2016 and beyond.



Stuart Klein


Expansion, upgrades at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute announced


By Theresa Edwards Makrush

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is expanding its facility to increase the number of cancer patients and the types of cancer it is able to treat. The estimated $39 million project will include system upgrades that will improve treatment efficiency and technology. 

The centerpiece of the multiphase project is the addition of a compact, single-room treatment system. The 10,000-square-foot expansion includes both an accelerator, used to speed up the protons, and a treatment gantry equipped with pencil beam scanning – an advanced delivery technique. Currently, the 98,000-square-foot facility has four treatment rooms – three equipped with rotating gantries and one fixed beam room – all powered by one proton accelerator called a cyclotron. When the addition is completed, the facility will have two accelerators, five treatment rooms – four gantries and one fixed beam room – and will increase patient capacity by approximately 25 percent.

“When the project is completed, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute will have one of the most versatile proton therapy systems in the world,” said executive director Stuart L. Klein, MHA. “Each delivery technique – double scattering, uniform scanning and pencil beam scanning – will enable physicians to use the optimal treatment delivery customized for each patient.”

The first phase of the project is underway and includes upgrades to the original system, which will be completed by June 2016. Funded in part by a $5.8 million budget allocation by the Florida Legislature, the first phase includes adding rolling floors under the treatment tables in two of the gantries, a new imaging system and a new treatment planning system. These updates will enhance efficiency, patient and staff safety, and treatment accuracy. 

Phase two will encompass the expansion construction and installation of the single-room proton therapy system. Bids for the proton therapy system equipment, construction management and architectural design for the expansion have been issued and vendor selection is expected to take place in January 2016. The project is being managed by the University of Florida Planning, Design & Construction Department.

Phase three involves retrofitting one treatment gantry with a dedicated pencil beam scanning nozzle. Pencil beam scanning is an advanced form of proton therapy delivery using a thin beam of protons. Similar to the way one uses a pencil to color in a shape with back and forth strokes, pencil beam scanning uses back and forth strokes calibrated to the exact shape, size and depth of the treatment area. Pencil beam scanning will offer clinical advantages for treating certain kinds of cancer.

Patient Spotlight: Beth Semikin


By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Encouragement from her family and friends led Beth Semikin to begin a blog about her experience dealing with a rare and complicated diagnosis of sarcoma. They thought her sense of humor was worth sharing with others. “I think if you can see the funny side of things, it helps to cope,” said Beth whose blog is cheekily named Tumour Has It. It has caught the attention of many cancer patients and news organizations including The Daily Mirror and ActionNews Jax.

She discovered writing about her cancer gave her a way to overcome the fear. “It was something I could do to normalize it,” said Beth in a recent interview as she prepared for her first of nine proton therapy treatments following weeks of conventional radiation at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. 

Beth, who is a 22-year-old physics student at Imperial College in London, said she sees the blog as a way to raise awareness about sarcoma. “There’s a lot of misdiagnosis. Symptoms are overlooked and there’s not much awareness in the general public and the medical community about it,” she said. Her own symptoms began in December 2014 as a tingling sensation in her leg that over a few-week period became very painful. “If you have unexplained symptoms, nerve pain, a lot of trouble walking, it [sarcoma] could be something to consider,” she said.

She describes her time in Jacksonville as a “radiation vacation.”

“It’s gone really quickly. No real symptoms from the radiation. I feel here there’s such a feeling of safety, like I’m cocooned,” said Beth. Being with doctors she trusts and radiation therapists who have become friends eases the initial fear and uncertainty of travelling to the U.S. for treatment.

A friend of hers at home in the U.K. has started a fund to raise money for Sarcoma U.K., a nonprofit organization that provides information and support for sarcoma patients and their families and funds research. So far they have raised nearly £5,000 for the organization through the Beth Semikin Sarcoma Initiative.

You can subscribe to Beth’s blog at http://tumourhasit.co.uk/, and follow her on Facebook.com/TumourHasIt and Twitter @TumourHasIt.

Meet Molly Dworkin, Director of Development


By Theresa Edwards Makrush

We are pleased to introduce Molly Dworkin, director of development at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. She hit the ground running last fall just in time for our annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic and she has kept the momentum going. Responsible for securing philanthropic gifts and donations to further the clinical and research programs at the institute, Molly is building relationships with proton “alumni,” proton friends and others in the community. Among her recent initiatives are an annual fund appeal and a campaign to raise funds to renovate the pediatric recovery and infusion room. 

“I am so energized by the positive spirit of the patients and caregivers as well as the physicians and staff,” said Molly. “Knowing that the good we do today will benefit future patients is a tremendous motivation. I look forward to helping secure that future.”

The Pediatric Recovery and Infusion Room Renovation Campaign will transform the area to reflect the exceptional level of care we provide. The proposed renovations will incorporate soothing colors and child-friendly elements, a more dynamic layout and visual attractions such as LED lighting, video screens and other technology, providing optimal comfort and privacy for our youngest patients and their families.

If you are interested in supporting this cause or other aspects of clinical care or research, please contact Molly at (904) 588-1519 or mdworkin@floridaproton.org.

At the Proton Centre


A poem by Ruth Munglani

Editor’s note: At a recent Wednesday patient luncheon, 22-year-old Ruth Munglani shared a poem she wrote to commemorate her proton graduation day. She had spent several months in Jacksonville having proton therapy for Ewing sarcoma and has returned to her home in the U.K. We thank Ruth for the opportunity to publish her work.


When lying asleep in the depths of my chemo,

The doctor popped into my room.

She beamed at me and patted my shoulder,

‘You’ll be going to America soon.’


‘America? Why would I go there?’ I replied,

I looked at her with dismay.

My friends, my family, my whole life was here,

All I wanted to do was stay.


The doctor explained to my chemo-addled brain

About protons and all of that.

To be honest, I wasn’t really listening to her,

I got distracted by the fact


That America was so very far away;

Across an entire ocean.

And that I would have to spend a few months there

Getting some form of radiation.


The day for the flight dawned bright and early,

I woke up filled with dread.

More treatment abroad was not appealing,

I pulled the blankets over my head.


The first few days were stressful for my mum;

She cried on the I-95.

The speed limit, it appeared; merely a suggestion,

We were glad to get home alive.


But the protons really have been fine.

I hop up on the bed and relax,

Listen to the chatter and the music,

What would make it perfect: some snacks.


We have enjoyed our down time too,

Lots of trips to the beach and the sea.

One thing though I am looking forward to:

A good old English cup of tea.


I’ve made some really good friends since I’ve been here;

People who smile and care,

Who stop and ask ‘How’s your day going?’

A sense of community is shared.


There have been many memorable moments,

Expressions like ‘Happy Friday’ and ‘Y’all’,

But mostly I’ll remember the kindness of everyone

And the little things, however small.


And now at last it is ending.

I find myself sad to go home.

It has felt like a holiday being here,

Full of friends, never alone.


So thank you to all who have made it

A truly wonderful experience for us.

Treatment has never been so positive.

I think you’ve got it sussed.

Santa Joe delivers donation


Joe McGee was inspired to be a Santa by the children at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and the memory of his late brother who was the “original” Santa in his family. As a proton alum, he has generously made a special visit each December since 2014 to hear the children’s Christmas wishes and deliver presents. As a professional Santa in the Atlanta area, he sets aside the proceeds from his appearances and returns in January to deliver a donation to the UFPTI for the Children Fund. We thank him for his gift of time, talent and treasure. You can book him for a Santa appearance in the Atlanta area by contacting him at www.facebook.com/santajoemcgee or email at santajoemcgee@gmail.com.

Message from Stuart Klein, Executive Director


People, especially those who go above and beyond the expected, make the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute a special place. In this month’s newsletter, you will read about exceptional actions by remarkable individuals who put others before themselves and make the world a better place.

On behalf of all of us here at the institute, best wishes to you and your loved ones for a happy holiday season.


Stuart Klein

2015 Excellence Award Honoree: Jeff Rexford


The first ever UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Award for Excellence was presented to Jeff Rexford, IBA Site Manager, during a ceremony last month. IBA is the manufacturer of the proton therapy system and Jeff leads its staff of on-site engineers who operate and maintain the system. Beginning in 2006 when Jeff was named site manager, and throughout his tenure, he has demonstrated a commitment to excellence that goes above and beyond the call of duty. 

Jeff is the most knowledgeable in-house expert on what is widely considered within the health care industry the most complex piece of medical equipment in use today. He is the reason that the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute system has the best performance of all IBA systems. When issues arise, Jeff and his team are unstoppable in resolving the issue, often developing creative solutions that are unconventional, but effective. The system performance and reliability makes it possible for the facility to treat, on average, 100 patients each weekday, from 6:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. 

“I am privileged and honored to know him as a friend and I truly admire his many contributions to UFHPTI’s past and future success,” said Stuart Klein, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Executive Director, in remarks made during the award ceremony.

The award was established to show appreciation for an individual’s exemplary service and to inspire others within the proton family to the same level of excellence. The honoree is someone who has made a significant contribution to the culture of excellence and patient care at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Anyone within the proton family, for example, employees, vendors, volunteers, or philanthropists, is eligible for consideration for the award. The individual who receives the award demonstrates the hallmarks of excellence: expertise, consistency, innovation, leadership and generosity.

Zane Beadles is a Walter Payton Man of the Year Finalist

ZaneandStuart.JPGYou can help our friend, Jacksonville Jaguars player Zane Beadles, win the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. All you have to do is use the hashtag #BeadlesWPMOYChallenge in your social media posts now through December 31. The NFL player with the most hashtag mentions will win a donation to fund his charitable activities.

Zane is a generous philanthropist who has taken a special interest in helping the children being treated at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and their families. He has a charitable organization, the Zane Beadles Parade Foundation, that focuses on supporting the journey of young people going through life-changing medical experiences.

Fun and Fellowship

Over the past few years he has hosted multiple family fun night activities including the most recent holiday party on December 10. Children and parents were treated to “breakfast for dinner” with pancakes, bacon and other delicious goodies on the menu. Then everyone was invited to decorate a gingerbread house using icing, candy and their imaginations. Zane along with his teammate AJ Caan and members of the Jaguars cheerleading squad The Roar visited with the children, signed autographs and posed for photos. 

For 11-year-old Max Adams, a patient from the United Kingdom and Jaguars fan, it was a thrill to meet the players. He started following the Jaguars when they played in London and attended the game there this season. He has also watched a few games at Everbank Field while he’s here on treatment.

Max said that the holiday party was a great way for all the pediatric families, especially those far from home, to get together for fun and fellowship. 


Patient Spotlight: Wendy Anthony

IMG_1279.JPG“I like to tell my story,” said 12-year-old Wendy Anthony as she described how she made friends with other cancer patients at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “I introduce myself and ask if they would like to go to the art table,” she explained.  She got to know the other patients by sharing her story with them about being treated for a rare brain tumor called craniopharyngioma, “I tell them I had surgery. Surgery. Treatment.” And she asked them about their cancer story. 

Because of her positive and friendly attitude, she touched the hearts and minds of other cancer patients on treatment and befriended many of them -- men, women and children. She decided to congratulate her friends when they “graduated” from treatment and made a personalized poster complete with drawings, pictures and words of encouragement. “We’d like to do it for everyone,” said her father David Anthony. “With so many graduates, it’s hard to do them all. We are making them for people who have touched our lives while we’ve been here.”

It started with a warm and welcoming greeting by a prostate cancer patient they met at the gym at Third and Main, the nearby apartment complex that houses many of the proton therapy patients. “He was the first person who greeted us, who told us what a great place we were in and made us feel comfortable,” said David. As they met more patients, the circle of friends grew. “We met a lot of inspiring people, but Wendy’s been the biggest inspiration to me,” said David. He said that all the prostate guys were super generous and kind to Wendy. She helped them deal with their cancer diagnosis by seeing how bravely she handled hers. 

“It’s just a great atmosphere that allows the best of people to come out,” said David describing the proton therapy institute. “I attribute that to UFHPTI. All the staff members are so positive it’s infectious.”

Wendy offered some advice for people to make their proton treatments go better, “I just go with the flow and do what the doctors say you have to do.” She said by concentrating on that, you don’t have to worry.

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute receives International Award


JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development arm of the JAX Chamber, during its quarterly luncheon on December 16 presented a 2015 International Award to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. 

Each year since 2007 JAXUSA honors companies and individuals that contribute to Northeast Florida’s international growth. “As international barriers continue to be broken it is important to position Northeast Florida as a prime place to expand or relocate international business,” said Jerry Mallot, JAXUSA President. “These awards help us recognize those companies and individuals who have already seen why this region is an outstanding location for their business operations.”

A selection committee comprised of the JAXUSA President, International Senior Director, JAXPORT’s Chief Commercial Officer and a representative from the international and/or logistics community review eligible nominees and determine the award winners. Past winners include Novabone (2007), COACH (2011), Stellar (2007 & 2014) and Jaguars President Mark Lamping (2013). The selection of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute marks the first time a health care provider has received the International Award.

“We are honored to receive this recognition,” said Stuart Klein, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Executive Director. “Proton therapy is often the only treatment option for many kinds of tumors, especially those located in or near critical organs like the brain, heart or lungs. Our ability to provide treatment to patients from around the globe is possible thanks to our expert professional medical team and to our community partners.”

Since opening in 2006, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has treated more than 6,000 cancer patients, who are from the local community, 49 states and 30 countries. The Institute has agreements in place with Norway, Quebec and the United Kingdom to treat cancer patients who need proton therapy. Additional international patient growth is expected from China following a proton therapy symposium in June 2015 hosted jointly with the leading radiation oncology association in China. Over the last five years, the pediatric proton program has grown to the largest in the world with more than 25 children on treatment each day. Since opening, the facility has treated more than 1,000 children.

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit, academic health facility. The facility is active in the economic development and medical tourism efforts in the City of Jacksonville. It hosts educational tours of the facility for small groups including medical professionals, business groups, government officials, international visitors and others. Facility tours are open to patients, caregivers and the general public twice weekly. It supports nonprofits such as the Ronald McDonald House, the American Cancer Society, Wolfson Children's Hospital, the American Lung Association, the Free to Breathe Association, and the 26.2 with Donna. Employees and patients often participate in community runs and events such as the Riverside Arts 5K, the Gate River Run, the Corporate Run, and more.

This year UF Health Proton Therapy Institute was named one of four Florida Cancer Centers of Excellence – the first year of the state-designated award – and it earned the American College of Radiology accreditation seal – one of three proton therapy facilities in the country with this distinction.


Santa Claus makes a special delivery

IMG_5062.jpgJoy was in the air on December 17 at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute as Santa Claus made a surprise visit. He delivered a bundle of toys to 70 children – cancer patients and their siblings. Many have temporarily relocated to Jacksonville for the three-month treatment, some from as far away as the United Kingdom. Proton therapy staff dressed as elves helped distribute the gifts. Joe McGee, prostate cancer survivor and proton alum from the Atlanta area, made Santa come to life.


Message from Stuart Klein, Executive Director


At this time of year, we set aside time to give thanks for the people who make a difference in our lives. It could be a family member, friend, loved one or someone in our community such as a military veteran, first responder or teacher. We are surrounded by people, seen and unseen, who impact our lives in a positive way every day.

This month we acknowledge our radiation therapists during National Radiologic Technology Week (November 8 - 14). This team of highly skilled professionals delivers exceptional care to patients every day. They expertly operate the proton therapy, IMRT, SBRT, MRI and CT equipment for safe and accurate patient treatment. Their commitment to excellence is recognized in the industry and serves as a model for other proton therapy centers. We are fortunate to have such an experienced team of people trained in proton therapy. For more than seven years, we have been able to treat the maximum number of patients possible because our radiation therapists alternate working two shifts. They're among the first to arrive at 6 a.m. and the last to leave at 11 p.m., or sometimes later. We thank our radiation therapists for their dedicated and compassionate care.

On behalf of everyone at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, I wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.


Stuart L. Klein

Survivor Spotlight: Joe Solsona


By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Helping military veterans and their spouses navigate the Veterans Affairs medical system is a service that Joe Solsona has developed into a nonprofit organization called National Association Veterans & Families - Veterans Support Center. It started in 2008 when his aunt needed homecare and was having difficulty applying for VA benefits. Through that experience, he discovered a tremendous need for help among veterans in similar situations.

"We didn't realize there was such a huge void," said Joe. "It has morphed into something that is much huger than I could have imagined." Since formalizing the nonprofit and becoming accredited with the VA to provide the service to veterans and spouses, the NAVF has handled 30,000 claims and has had only two claims denied. The organization regularly has referrals from the offices of local U.S. congressmen and attorneys to handle claims for Agent Orange, PTSD, homecare and assisted living.

When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014, Joe applied his health care system navigation skills to his own case. He talked to men who had been treated for prostate cancer, including two physicians he knew, who told him about having robotic surgery, brachytherapy, and radiation. He weighed the pros and cons of each treatment and chose proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute because, he said, it had similar effectiveness in controlling the cancer but with fewer side effects.

Following hormone therapy, in February 2015 he started eight weeks - 39 treatments - of proton therapy. While on treatment Joe said he experienced fatigue and cut back on the number of hours he worked, going from 14 hours to about seven hours a day. He also noticed that he was more sensitive to the hot weather, but he was still able to compete in skeet, though for shorter periods than usual.

Joe, who turns 67 years old next month, had his six-month follow-up appointment the Wednesday before Halloween and is doing well, though is still recovering his energy level. Yet, he is not concerned for himself, but for others who are facing a cancer diagnosis and could benefit from proton therapy. Through his advocacy, a spouse of someone he knows is being treated with protons for breast cancer. "I feel it's very important for the public, veterans and spouses to be aware of what is available," he said.

November is national awareness month for lung cancer and pancreatic cancer


By Theresa Edwards Makrush

During November, advocacy groups turn our attention to two of the deadliest cancers in the U.S. - lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. Symptoms can be mistaken for other more benign illnesses before lung cancer is diagnosed at a more advanced stage. Pancreas cancer is even more challenging since symptoms typically do not occur until the cancer has spread to other organs.

Treatments are usually a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Radiation is often used following surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells. It is sometimes used before surgery to shrink the size of the tumor. For inoperable (unresectable) tumors, radiation is used with curative, or in some cases palliative, intent.

Facts and Stats
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in American men and women, accounting for 13 percent of all new cancer diagnoses each year and is the leading cause of cancer death.1 Pancreatic cancer in comparison is less common, accounting for three percent of all new cancer diagnoses each year, yet it is the third most common cause of cancer death in the U.S.2

Early evidence for proton therapy in treating lung and pancreatic cancers suggests that patients can expect similar cure rates to conventional treatment methods, but will experience fewer treatment-related complications. Unlike X-rays, proton beams can be conformed to the size and shape of the treatment area to minimize or avoid damage to surrounding sensitive organs. For lung cancer patients this means a reduced risk of developing treatment-related pneumonia, pain with swallowing, and cardiac disease.3 For pancreatic cancer patients it means a reduced risk of developing treatment-related serious bowel or stomach issues.4

Lung cancer treated with protons     

Both small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are the subject of clinical research at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Recent published articles in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, Clinical Lung Cancer and Acta Oncologica reported on early outcomes of patients following proton therapy for stage II & III NSCLC and limited-stage small cell lung cancer. The researchers concluded that the combination of proton therapy and chemotherapy can provide patients with an aggressive treatment that is less toxic than conventional X-ray radiation.5, 6, 7

Clinical trials open for enrollment to eligible lung cancer patients include one for a shorter treatment approach for stage II & III non-small cell lung cancer and another for a shorter treatment approach for stage I non-small cell lung cancer.

For more information about proton therapy and lung cancer, visit our cancers treated page.

Pancreatic cancer treated with protons

One of the important areas of treatment, clinical trials and study at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is pancreatic cancer. The goal is to improve patient outcomes for a disease that is often challenging to treat successfully. An article published in the International Journal of Particle Therapy reported early outcomes following proton therapy for patients with pancreatic cancer who were not eligible for surgical removal of the disease due to the position of the tumor. 8

Patients were treated with both chemotherapy and proton therapy. Significantly, the study reports that patients were able to tolerate the treatment well with no severe gastrointestinal side effects during treatment and in the two years following. This suggests that there is an opportunity to safely intensify the treatment, which may lead to improved survival rates. Two clinical trials are currently open to enroll eligible pancreatic cancer patients: postoperative proton therapy in surgically removed (resected) pancreatic cancers; and preoperative proton therapy in pancreatic cancers that can be partially removed (borderline or marginally resectable).

For more information about proton therapy and pancreatic cancer, visit our cancers treated page.


1. Seer Stat Fact Sheets: Lung and Bronchus Cancer. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/lungb.html. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2015.

2. Seer Stat Fact Sheets: Pancreas Cancer. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/pancreas.html. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2015.

3. Image-Guided Proton Therapy for Lung Cancer and Thymoma. http://www.floridaproton.org/sites/default/files/docs/LungCancerFactSheet.pdf Retrieved Nov. 11, 2015.

4. Proton Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer. http://www.floridaproton.org/cancers-treated/pancreatic-cancer. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2015

5. Hoppe BS, Flampouri S, Henderson RH, Pham D, Bajwa AA, D’Agostino H, Huh SN, Li Z, Mendenhall NP, Nichols RC. Proton therapy with concurrent chemotherapy for non-small-cell lung cancer; technique and early results. Clin Lung Cancer. 2012 Sep; 13(5):352-8.

6. Colaco RJ, Huh S, Nichols RC, Morris CG, D’Agostino H, Flampouri S, Li Z, Pham DC, Bajwa AA, Hoppe BS. Dosimetric rationale and early experience at UFPTI of thoracic proton therapy and chemotherapy in limited-stage small cell lung cancer. Acta Oncologica. 2013 Feb; 52(3): 506-13.

7. Hoppe BS, Henderson RH, Pham D, Cury J, Bajwa AA, Morris CG, D’Agostino H, Flampouri S, Huh S, Li Z, McCook B, Nichols RC. A phase II trial of concurrent chemotherapy and proton therapy for stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer: Results and reflections following early closure of a single institution study. Int J Radiation Oncol Biol Phys. Article in press Nov. 8, 2015.

8. Sachsman S, Nichols RC, Morris CG, Zaiden R, Johnson EA, Awad Z, Bose D, Ho MW, Huh SN, Li Z, Kelly P, Hoppe BS. Proton therapy and concomitant capecitabine for non-metastatic unresectable pancreatic adenocarcinoma. International Journal of Particle Therapy. Winter 2014;1(3):692-701. http://www.theijpt.org/doi/abs/10.14338/IJPT.14-00006.1

Burnie Grill gave kids hope and happiness this Halloween


By Frances Hanold

Last month, Burnie Grill and its founder and CEO Carl Spadaro participated in an afternoon of Halloween fun with us, celebrating his donation of five thousand dollars to the pediatric proton fund. Burnie Grill mascot "Burnie" joined children at the luncheon and handed out dolls of the company's Nordic Viking mascot to trick-or-treaters.

Children deserve the chance to enjoy life and experience holiday activities even though they have been diagnosed with cancer. The mission of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute for the Children Fund is to remove fear from the treatment process. To achieve this mission, the fund provides support for a child life specialist, Family Fun Night and communal activities, a driver and van transport, and an artist-in-residence.

We thank Burnie Grill and Carl Spadaro for this generous contribution to the programs that will help us achieve our mission of making children as comfortable, free of fear and joyful as possible during their treatment.

Jacksonville Jaguar Zane Beadles hosts holiday gift drive

header image for Holiday Gift Drive1.jpg

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Zane Beadles is tackling more than opponents on the football field. Through his charitable foundation, The Zane Beadles Parade Foundation (ZBPF), he is also tackling a community project to bring fun, excitement and joy to our pediatric patients and their families.

Now through December 5, Zane is hosting a holiday gift drive at nine Jacksonville area drop-off locations.

"The UF Proton children are such an incredible, tenacious group," said Zane. "I'd love for the community to celebrate the Season of Giving by donating wish list items that these kids can enjoy year-round."

People in the community are encouraged to choose an item from the "UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Wish List" and bring it to one of the following locations:

  • Engine 15 Brewing Co.
    • 1500 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32250
  • Mellow Mushroom (four locations)
    • 1018 3rd St. N., Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
    • 3611 St. Johns Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32205
    • 9734 Deer Lake Ct., #1, Jacksonville, FL 32246
    • 1800 Town Center Blvd., Fleming Island, FL 32003
  • Reputation Ink
    • 1303 N. Main St., Suite 108, Jacksonville, FL 32206
  • Sports Mania
    • 1246 3rd St. S., Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
  • Woody’s Bar-B-Q (two locations)
    • 1638 University Blvd S., Jacksonville, FL 32216
    • 8540 Argyle Forest Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32244

Items on the "Wish List" include:

  • All ages
    • Zane Beadles Snuggle Pad: The Zane's Parade Snuggle Pad is a plush toy elephant that doubles as a functional fold-out tray. Every donation of a Snuggle Pad is matched one-for-one by Zane's Parade, so your purchase means two children will benefit. To order, visit the ZBPF Shop at zanesparade.org
    • Bubbles, I Spy books, light-up spin toys, iPad Minis
  • Infant
    • Musical toys and light-up toys
  • Toddler
    • LEGO Duplo blocks, musical toys, light-up toys, See 'n Say, Playskool Busy Poppin' Pals toys
  • School age
    • Sticky Mosaics toys, coloring books, LEGO friends sets, Hot Wheels, Fuzzy Velvet posters, playing cards and puzzles (50-100 pieces)
  • Teen
    • Individual arts and crafts kits, Fuzzy Velvet posters, picture frames, LEGO BIONICLE kits, playing cards, UNO, Phase 10, electronics, DVDs (Rated G, PG, or PG-13), games for Xbox, Kinect (games must be rated E, E10+ or Teen and non-violent)

About the Zane Beadles Parade Foundation

The Zane Beadles Parade Foundation (ZBPF) supports the journey of young people going through life-changing medical experiences. Founded in 2013, ZBPF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that gives the gift of fun, excitement, and joy to young patients and their families. Scientific studies and personal experiences prove that having positive, meaningful experiences significantly improves patients' quality of life, lowers their stress levels, and improves their overall recovery during treatments for serious medical conditions.

To learn more about the Zane Beadles Parade Foundation, please visit zanesparade.org.

Message from Stuart Klein, Executive Director

Stuart Klein, Executive Director

Aud’s Chime, prominently displayed in our main lobby since January 2013, is a powerful symbol of healing and hope. It is rung by patients the day they complete their six- to eight-week proton therapy treatment. This celebration, and the treatment that makes it possible, is something unique that we want to share with others who are facing a cancer diagnosis. So we have created a new TV commercial that is on air in select Florida cities. Click here to view the commercial.

We shot the commercial entirely on location at our facility, and many of our staff volunteered during the weekend production as extras or helped behind the scenes. All of the people shown in the commercial are proton therapy alumni patients who volunteered to participate. The woman who is featured ringing the chime is Kelly Jones, a breast cancer survivor, who is an assistant principal at a middle school in Gainesville. You can read more about her story in this issue of Precision. She was treated here in 2012, prior to the chime installation. We were able to capture the true, emotional moment of her ringing the chime for the first time surrounded by her actual family and friends. It was inspiring, as all the chime ringing celebrations are, and we think it will be a powerful and persuasive message of hope to all who see the commercial.

Feel free to share the link with your friends and family, and encourage them to help spread the word about the life-saving treatment we deliver every day.


Stuart Klein

Proton therapy preserves quality of life for breast cancer survivor

Kelly Jones

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

On March 27, 2012, nine months after her wedding day, Kelly Jones got an unexpected and unwelcome phone call from her doctor. She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

“We should have been planning our first anniversary celebration. Instead we were figuring out how I was going to beat this cancer,” said Kelly during a speech she made at the Oct. 11 dinner and silent auction that was part of the 11th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic.

She and her husband Darin and her physician decided that she would have a mastectomy followed by six rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation.

At the very beginning of her treatment, she decided that she wanted to keep her life as normal as possible, which included working as a middle school assistant principal in Alachua County Public Schools, visiting with friends and staying active with her family.

One evening in July, she was invited by her parents Gail and Eric Brill to go with friends to Steinhatchee, Fla., a Gulf coast community famous for its abundance of scallops and only an hour-and-a-half drive from her home in Gainesville. Among the group was Dr. Nancy Mendenhall, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute medical director. Kelly’s breast cancer treatment came up in conversation, and when Dr. Mendenhall learned that Kelly’s cancer was in the left breast, she took Kelly aside.

At the time, the Institute had started a clinical trial using proton therapy to treat cancer in the left breast, and Dr. Mendenhall encouraged Kelly to consider it. Based on previous research comparing treatment plans of protons, IMRT and conventional X-rays, there was evidence that proton therapy could target the treatment area in the chest and minimize damage to the heart and lungs. This advantage appealed to Kelly, who was already at risk of damage to her heart due to chemotherapy.

Incidentally, much of the research done at the Institute is possible through philanthropic donations and funds raised during the annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic. For years, Kelly’s mother Gail Brill had volunteered at the tournament, never knowing that one day her own daughter would benefit from the program.

Shortly after the Steinhatchee scalloping trip, Kelly had a consultation with Dr. Roi Dagan at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville. He evaluated her as a good candidate for proton therapy and eligible for the clinical trial. As they discussed the daily treatment that would take place over six weeks, Kelly insisted that Dr. Dagan make sure that she would be completed in time to go on her annual “girls’ weekend” cruise in the Caribbean. He assured her this would happen.

Three years later, Kelly has no sign of cancer. She and her family and friends are grateful that Kelly had access to proton therapy, and they do what they can to support the Institute and spread the word to others who may benefit from the treatment. They recently volunteered to be in the Institute’s just-released TV commercial featuring Kelly ringing Aud’s Chime in the main lobby. Kelly was interviewed by The Gainesville Sun for an article in the newspaper’s breast cancer awareness special section. And she shared her story with the audience at the Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® dinner. There Kelly thanked her husband Darin for his tremendous support. She thanked Dr. Mendenhall for taking time out of her vacation three years ago to tell Kelly about proton therapy. She thanked the tournament’s past and current donors for making clinical research possible at the Institute. And she thanked Dr. Dagan for his expert care, and of course, for making sure she boarded the ship on time.


>> Click here to learn more about Proton therapy for Breast Cancer.



A Tribute to Aud

Last month, at one of the weekly patient luncheons, Sharon Kadelsik, wife of “graduate” Darrell Kadelsik, shared a poem she wrote. It beautifully conveys the significance of Aud’s Chime. It is published here with her permission.

By Sharon Kadelsik

You claim the place of honor in the House of Proton and proudly declare a message of hope and healing to all who come here.

You reign in your glass chamber and observe the daily activities of those who dispense and those who receive the precious gift of life.

Each of us anxiously awaits the day when it’s our time to have a personal encounter with you. When your beautiful voice will declare to the world that we have conquered the enemy within.

You knew from the first day that we would not stay for long. We are part of an ever changing face of those who have sought a place of refuge and found the healing touch of Proton.

Today is the day you will sing for Darrell and let the world know that he has faced the foe, has fought the battle, and has won. You will herald his victory and send him out into the world with your message of hope for others.

Each time we hear your clear and beautiful chime, we pause and say thank you for all the people who labor in your house and the gift of Proton Therapy.

11th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic wrap up

Jacksonville Jaguars' mascot Jaxson

Jacksonville Jaguars' mascot Jaxson de Ville helped kickoff the tournament with Stuart Klein, executive director of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute (l), and Michael McPhillips, voluntary tournament chair (r).

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

The 11th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic presented by IBA and .decimal was held on the First Coast for the first time. It was previously held in the Orlando area, and in its first 10 years raised more than one million dollars to support cancer research at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville. The event took place Oct. 11 and 12 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., with a dinner and auction in the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum and a tournament on the location’s two championship courses – the King & Bear and the Slammer & Squire. To see photos of the event, click here.

Dinner & Auction – Sunday, Oct. 11
This year the event included a dinner and auction the evening before the tournament, making it possible for supporters who do not play golf to participate. Approximately 200 guests gathered in the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum to enjoy an evening of golf history and chances to bid on and win auction items. Dr. Tony Parker, the museum’s official historian, related stories of his time working at the famed St. Andrews course in Scotland and the celebrities he met including actors Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson and professional golfers like Jack Nicklaus. Proton therapy patient and breast cancer survivor Kelly Jones shared her story. And celebrity Chef Robert Tulko led a live auction of five premium items including a week stay in a beautiful North Carolina cabin and a dinner for six prepared by Chef Robert.

Golf Tournament – Monday, Oct. 12
More than 200 golfers teed off at the two courses at the World Golf Village. Honorary Chair Shannon Miller greeted players during the tournament and at the awards reception shared her experience winning 1996 Olympic gold in gymnastics and later fighting and surviving cancer. World Golf Hall of Fame member Hubert Green, a cancer survivor, played in the tournament as did Josh Scobee, NFL kicker and former Jacksonville Jaguars player. Other special guests included Jaguars’ mascot Jaxson de Ville, Nease High School’s Navy JROTC Color Guard and vocalist Virginia Beverly who participated in the opening ceremonies at both courses and Naval Air Station Jacksonville sailors who tended the U.S. flag at the 18th hole on both courses. On-course activities included chances to win a car by making a hole-in-one, a contest for closest to the pin and a contest for longest drive. Trophies were awarded for the best-scoring teams in each of three skill levels at each course.

Workshop for lung cancer patients and caregivers

Patients and caregivers are invited to learn about the latest treatments for lung cancer at a free workshop taking place at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

It will be held on November 5 at 12 p.m. in the Research Room. The featured speaker is Dr. Bradford S. Hoppe who is associate professor of radiation oncology at UF and is the James E. Lockwood, Jr., Endowed Chair of Proton Therapy. He will discuss side effects, side-effect management, and tools to overcome the social and emotional challenges of the diagnosis. We hope to answer many of your questions about lung cancer to help you or your loved one manage the disease more successfully.

The workshop is made possible in collaboration with the American Lung Association and a charitable contribution from Lilly. For more details and to RSVP, call Lauren Clark at (904) 520-7120 or visit cancersupportcommunity.org.

Physicians from Bulgaria tour top medical facilities in the U.S.

Physicians from Bulgaria tour UF Health Proton Therapy Institute

A group of 25 physicians from Bulgaria visited Jacksonville, Fla., last month to tour the world-class medical facilities here. After meeting with city leaders, they saw UF Health Jacksonville’s patient simulation lab and trauma one unit, followed by a tour of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Patient Services Director Bradlee Robbert, with the help of an interpreter, explained the benefits of proton therapy in treating many types of cancer, and showed the group one of the gantry treatment rooms.

Message from Stuart Klein, Executive Director

Stuart Klein, Executive DirectorSeptember is an awareness month for prostate cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma and childhood cancer. Each of these cancers is treated effectively and safely with proton therapy. As proton therapy alumni, friends and advocates, we are often in a position to spread awareness of this treatment that gives an excellent chance for cure with a lower chance for side effects. I encourage you in these last days of the month to wear an awareness ribbon – light blue for prostate cancer awareness, violet for Hodgkin lymphoma awareness, and gold for childhood cancer awareness. And if someone asks you about it, share your story of beating cancer with proton therapy.


Stuart Klein

Patient Spotlight: Ron Nelson

Ron Nelson is a man on a mission. He was treated for prostate cancer in 2011 at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and since then, he has written a book about his experience, Protons Versus Prostate Cancer: Exposed, created a blog about proton therapy, prostate cancer and other musings, The After Proton Blog, and frequently talks with both men and women about prostate cancer and proton therapy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To see what else Ron is up to watch his short video.

While he doesn’t give medical advice, he’s a retired information technology professional, he does offer his candid, first-person, and often humorous perspective on proton therapy and prostate cancer. This month he is one of the featured speakers at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute prostate follow-up clinic.

If you’re not able to make it to the talk, check out Ron’s most recent blog article with his characteristic wry and thought-provoking commentary on the timely topic of prostate cancer awareness month. There is no charge to subscribe to The After Proton Blog, and Ron would love for you to contact him at Ron@ProtonsExposed.com.

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute crosses important milestone in the care of pediatric cancer patients

An increasing number of children who need radiation to treat their cancers are being treated at the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. Since opening in 2006, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has treated over 1,000 pediatric patients, a milestone it reached this month. It is currently the world’s largest pediatric proton therapy program, serving 25-30 children each day.

Proton therapy is a specialized form of radiation treatment that minimizes damage to healthy tissue surrounding a tumor. It is especially important to limit radiation exposure in the rapidly growing bodies of children since their cells are more susceptible to radiation damage. The long-term benefit for survivors of childhood cancer treated with proton therapy is a reduced risk of developing radiation induced chronic illness, low growth hormone production, secondary cancer or impaired IQ.

The most common tumors in children treated with proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute are ependymoma, craniopharyngioma, low-grade glioma, rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma and medulloblastoma. Over 200 of these children will be treated in 2015. “Since the majority of our pediatric patients are treated for sarcomas and brain tumors near critical healthy tissue, it is paramount to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure which can compromise growth and development,” said Daniel J. Indelicato, M.D., associate professor and director of pediatric radiotherapy at the University of Florida. “Our goal is to cure children with high-dose radiation but still avoid side effects.”

“The advantages for children who have tumors treated with protons are quite significant,” said Nancy P. Mendenhall, M.D., medical director of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and associate chair and professor of radiation oncology at UF. “Survivorship for our youngest patients will mean both a longer life and a healthy life free from the late effects of conventional radiation treatment.”

The pediatric radiotherapy program at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is unique in its multidimensional scope of care, which includes dedicated pediatric radiation oncologists, specialized pediatric nurses, pediatric anesthesiologists, experienced radiation therapists, a pediatric social worker, and a full-time child life specialist. This comprehensive approach has become a model within the field and draws pediatric patients from 36 states and 20 countries. Since many pediatric tumors are treated with a combination of radiation, surgery and chemotherapy, the University of Florida partners with Nemours Children’s Specialty Clinic and Wolfson Children’s Hospital to provide the full-spectrum pediatric oncology care. Together, these institutions offer over 20 advanced clinical trials for children with cancer. In 2015, over 95% of pediatric patients treated at the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute were enrolled on a clinical study.

As part of an academic health center, a fundamental component of the University of Florida pediatric program is education. The doctors at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute are training the next generation of pediatric radiation oncologists. This includes residents from UF, the Moffitt Cancer Center, and the Mayo Clinic. In addition, UF began the first radiation oncology fellowship dedicated to the subspeciality of pediatric proton therapy in 2011.

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute earns ACR accreditation

American Color of Radiology Certified FacilityThe American College of Radiology (ACR) has awarded a three-year term of accreditation in radiation oncology to the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. It is awarded to facilities that meet or exceed national standards in radiation oncology. Of the 17 proton therapy centers in the U.S., UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is one of three proton therapy facilities to have earned the ACR seal of accreditation, representing the highest level of quality and patient safety.

The accreditation means that personnel are qualified through education and certification to administer radiation therapy. Furthermore, it means the equipment is appropriate for delivering radiation therapy and meets or exceeds national standards for safety and quality assurance.

“Our goal is to deliver safe, effective cancer treatment to patients using proton therapy,” said Nancy P. Mendenhall, M.D., medical director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and associate chair and professor of radiation oncology at UF. “Being part of an academic health center and a Florida Cancer Center of Excellence, we opened our doors for an objective and rigorous peer review by ACR. We are honored to have earned this distinction, and I commend our staff for their commitment to excellence.”

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute was recognized earlier this year among the first four Florida Cancer Centers of Excellence designated by the Florida Department of Health. The designation means that treatment centers demonstrate excellence in patient-centered coordinated cancer care.

The ACR is the nation’s oldest and most widely accepted radiation oncology accrediting body, with over 600 accredited sites, and 27 years of accreditation experience. The ACR seal of accreditation is awarded only to facilities meeting specific Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards developed by ACR after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified radiation oncologists and medical physicists who are experts in the field. Patient care and treatment, patient safety, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures, and quality assurance programs are assessed. The findings are reported to the ACR Committee on Radiation Oncology Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report they can use for continuous practice improvement.

The ACR is a national professional organization serving more than 36,000 diagnostic/interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and medical physicists with programs focusing on the practice of medical imaging and radiation oncology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.

Don't miss the 11th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic

11th Annual Play Golf Fight Cancer® Classic

Join in the fellowship and fun at the one-of-a-kind World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum and the championship golf courses King & Bear and Slammer & Squire for the 11th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic in St. Augustine, Fla., October 11-12. The charity event, presented by IBA and .decimal with additional support from Shepherd, will benefit the research programs at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, a nonprofit, 501 (c) 3 organization.

The event kicks off on Sunday, October 11, at 6 p.m. in the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum. Guests will explore the museum honoring the greatest golfers with exhibits of their most significant trophies, equipment and history-making wins. For those who want to get in a few practice swings, they can try out the new Golfzon golf simulator and its up-to-date sensor technology, one of only two in the U.S. with 150 worldwide courses to choose from.

A dinner and silent auction will be held in Shell Hall where each hall of fame member is enshrined. An exciting live auction includes the chance to bid on a one-week stay in a North Carolina cabin, a river excursion for six people on a luxury 46-foot cruiser, a dinner for six prepared by celebrity chef Robert Tulko, and a dinner for six prepared by Dr. Nancy Mendenhall. Other chances to win in the silent auction include a range of items from unique collectible and dinner and spa gift cards to golf foursomes, The PLAYERS Championship tickets and vacation getaways. Whether shopping for yourself or a gift for someone else, it’s a great way to buy something you want or need, and you can feel good knowing that 100 percent of the proceeds go to the life-saving research at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

Golf begins on Monday, October 12, with registration at 7 a.m. and a shotgun start at 9 a.m. Players will be assigned to one of two championship courses designed by legendary World Golf Hall of Fame members: the King & Bear or the Slammer & Squire. Trophies will be awarded to the best-scoring teams, closest to the pin and longest drive.

The awards reception will include an inspiring keynote talk by our honorary chair Shannon Miller, the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history. As a 7-time Olympic medalist and cancer survivor, she is an advocate for early detection and health and fitness. She will be available for a meet and greet and autograph signing at the reception.

To register for the event and/ or attend the dinner, click through to register on the www.playgolffightcancer.org website.

To donate or support the cause in some other way, if you are not available for the event, contact tournament chair Michael McPhillips at mcpforegolf@gmail.com (904) 910-7098 or Judy Taylor Holland jholland@floridaproton.org (904) 588-1401.

In the community

Team Florida Proton in the 2nd Annual LungForce Walk

Team Florida Proton participated in the 2nd Annual LungForce Walk in August to benefit the American Lung Association (ALA) and its effort to raise awareness of lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer death in women. Funds raised at the walk benefit the research and early detection programs sponsored by the ALA.

Message from Stuart Klein, Executive Director

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute marked its ninth year in operation on August 14. With nearly 6,000 patients treated and 190,000 treatments delivered, we are among the most experienced proton therapy centers worldwide, ranking in the top five for number of treatments. We have treated significant numbers of prostate, head and neck, lung, breast, pancreas, and brain/CNS cancers as well as sarcoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. Our pediatric program is the largest in the world with an average of 20 children on treatment each day.

We have tracked patient satisfaction of the treatment and our service since opening. Over time, the satisfaction rates are consistently high with 94 percent of patients rating our service "excellent" and 98 percent of patients saying they would recommend our services to others. Our commitment to patient-centered care is one of the reasons we were one of the first four organizations designated by the Florida Department of Health as a Florida Cancer Center of Excellence in 2015, the first year of the awards program.

This combination of technology, experience and compassion gives patients the confidence that proton therapy at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is the right choice for treating their cancer and going on to live life to the fullest.

Stuart Klein

Moving on from prostate cancer

Ben Smith (l) chats with a proton therapy staff member in August 2006 as he prepares to be the first patient at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

By Carol Estocko

After Ben Smith was “fired” by his urologist 10 years ago for declining to undergo a radical prostatectomy to treat his prostate cancer, Smith fired up his computer and got to work.

“I started doing Internet research and looking at every available therapy at the time, even cryotherapy,” the 62-year-old Cocoa Beach, Florida, resident says. “All of the treatments had pretty good e ffi cacy. But then, they would talk all about the possible side e ff ects like impotence and incontinence — except for proton beam therapy.”

At the time, there were only a handful of clinical centers o ff ering proton therapy in the United States, including ones in Boston, Massachusetts, and Loma Linda, California. “I did a little more homework and found that the University of Florida was actually building one in Jacksonville, which is two hours from my home,” says Smith. He reached out to the sta ff of the soon-to-open University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute (UFPTI) and said he wanted to be the first patient.

“I waited for it to open,” says Smith, who received his first proton beam treatment at UFPTI on August 14, 2006.

“I was the first person in that machine when they turned it on,” he recalls. “I had 39 treatments, and the equipment worked every time. I might have been delayed while they tweaked something, but I never had a treatment get cancelled. This is complicated machinery — a particle accelerator, magnets. It’s crazy how huge, powerful and complex these systems are. And they got it up and running 39 days in a row.”

Smith, a retired aerospace engineer, thinks that many doctors still view proton therapy as an experimental procedure — if they have even heard about it at all.

“I think one has to be one’s own advocate,” he says. “I don’t think doctors want to harm you. But the urologist wants to operate. The radiation oncologist wants to radiate. Another person wants to do seed implants (brachytherapy). They want to do what they know. And a lot of people go with whatever the doctor says.”

Smith and his wife Lisa are in the process of restoring a 36-foot sailboat, which they plan to live on for the foreseeable future. They will travel, then determine where they want to settle down. “We are enjoying our lives,” he says.

“For me, proton beam was a treatment I was privileged and blessed to have, but it’s just something that I did, and I’m glad I did it. If I see an article on it, I’ll read it. But it’s not something that I need to make a major part of my life.”

This article originally appeared March 20, 2015, in Proton Therapy Today. Used with permission.

Support comes in many shapes and sizes

Proton therapy is a powerful tool to eliminate malignancies, but it is no match for a family of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles supporting their loved one. Congratulations, Landon!

Calling all who like dinner and/or golf

The 11th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic , UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s primary fundraising event, is Oct. 11-12, 2015, at The World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Fla. The event is being presented by IBA and .decimal with additional support from Shepherd and has something for everyone.

A dinner and silent auction is planned for Sunday, Oct. 11, in the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum. For all who register as a player, you automatically have a ticket to the dinner. However, tickets to attend the dinner and silent auction are also available for those who do not wish to play golf.

Aside from a great dinner, you will enjoy entertainment such as:

• A live auction called by local celebrity Chef Robert Tulko.

• Bid on auction items such as

  • A one-week stay at a North Carolina cabin
  • A luxury boat excursion for 6 people
  • Dinner for 6 prepared by Chef Robert Tulko
  • Passes to the 2016 The PLAYERS tournament
  • A laptop computer

• A look inside the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum honoring the greatest players and contributors to the game of golf.

• Try out the new Golfzon golf simulator for a virtual experience playing on a choice of 150 worldwide courses

The tournament will be played Monday, Oct. 12, on both of the o ffi cial courses of the World Golf Hall of Fame. The King & Bear is a course that has the distinction of being the only design collaboration between namesakes Arnold “The King” Palmer and Jack “The Bear” Nicklaus. The Slammer & Squire is a championship resort course designed by Bobby Weed with consultants Sam “The Slammer” Snead and Gene “The Squire” Sarazen.

Golfers will have the chance to win prizes along the way and to meet and greet 7-time Olympic medalist Shannon Miller. She is the honorary chair of this year’s tournament and is the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony following tournament play.

Please join us in support of proton therapy research and register today at www.playgolffightcancer.org website. To donate or support the cause in some other way, if you are not available for the event, contact tournament chair Michael McPhillips at mcpforegolf@gmail.com (904) 910-7098 or Judy Taylor Holland jholland@floridaproton.org (904) 588-1401.

In the community

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is proud to sponsor these upcoming events in the Jacksonville area.


When: Aug. 29, 2015
Where: The Jacksonville Landing, 2 Independent Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32202

LUNG FORCE is a national movement led by the American Lung Association (ALA) to raise awareness that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women.

You can participate on the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute team in the 2nd Annual LUNG FORCE Walk/Run on August 29, 2015, at The Landing in downtown Jacksonville. Funds raised will benefit the ALA’s efforts to research a cure and promote awareness of early detection. Show your support and help raise awareness that proton therapy is an excellent option for lung cancer treatment.

Last year, we had the largest team and made quite an impact with our bright yellow shirts and proton logos. Our team captain Bradlee Robbert is ordering equally bright shirts with our new logo and each participant will receive a complimentary shirt. There is no cost to register. To sign up, follow these steps:

  1. Click here for the registration website
  2. Click the blue “Register” button
  3. Click “Join Team”
  4. In the “Team Name” box, type Florida Proton, then click the “Search for a Team” button
  5. Click “Join” and follow the on-screen instructions
  6. Contact brobbert@floridaproton.org with name and shirt size for each person you registered. Shirts are complimentary if you register and email Brad by Monday, August 17.

Free to Breathe Walk

When: Sept. 12, 2015
Where: The Jacksonville Landing

Free to Breathe is a national organization that aims to double lung cancer survival by 2022. The 5k walk is a fundraiser for lung cancer research and educational materials for patients and families. The nonprofit organization has funded 50 researchers at medical and research centers across the United States since 2005. Past grant recipients have:

  • Received at least 91 additional grants to further their research
  • Published well over 200 peer-reviewed papers in the lung cancer field
  • Produced work that has led to several clinical trials.

Riverside Fine Arts Association 2nd Annual Run for the Arts 5k

When: Sept. 26, 2015
Where: Bold City Brewery, 2670-7 Rosselle Street, Jacksonville, FL 32204

This event is open to runners and walkers of all fitness levels and even includes a one-mile Fun Run for the kids. We encourage you to walk, run, bring a friend or just come and cheer someone on as we attempt to continue promoting the therapeutic value of art and exercise; a win- win for all of us. Funds from this event will help support Riverside Fine Arts Association’s mission to provide our community and northeast Florida with musical presentations featuring diverse artists of national and international acclaim. Funds also enable the association to provide outreach to Jacksonville area youth through the Project Listen program. Post-race activities include awards, live music by local artists, a silent art auction featuring work from local artists, food from Bold City, and beer from Bold City (one complimentary beer or non-alcoholic beverage to each participant).


About This Newsletter

The Precision Newsletter is an electronic-only publication that is distributed by email. Each issue is sent monthly to patients, alumni patients and friends of the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. As the official newsletter of the Institute, the content is compiled and prepared by our communications representative and approved by the editor Stuart Klein, executive director of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Special bulletin newsletters may occasionally be prepared when timely topics and new developments in proton therapy occur.  We will make every effort to remove your name from the list. If you would like to send a Letter to the Editor, please click here.


Keep In Touch

It is easy to stay in touch with us online at floridaproton.org . Look at the top right corner of the homepage for Facebook , Twitter and YouTube icons, click and join us in the social media conversation. Also on the right side of the homepage there is a button for VTOC Patient Portal . Click here to open your secure account, view your records, complete clinical trial questionnaires and communicate with your nurse case manager.


Knowing how you are feeling during and after treatment is essential to providing you the best care possible and contributes to the care of future patients.