Business Owner and Prostate Cancer Survivor
For the first 60 years of Robert Moore’s life, he never had a major health problem. No surgeries. In fact, the most time he spent in a hospital was when he was a surgical technician at what is now UK Healthcare in Kentucky.
That was until last May when Robert went for a visit with his primary care doctor and found out that his PSA level was 8.0, twice as high as the normal level is supposed to be. After his urologist performed a biopsy, it was determined that Robert had prostate cancer.
“I was, and still am, a very healthy person so when I found out that I had cancer, it really threw me for a loop. After all, I still have my tonsils. I still have my appendix. I’ve never had anything taken out of my body,” he said.
Robert is currently the owner of a chain of rental stores called Prime Time Rentals. “I didn’t want to tell anyone at first, I just wanted to process it,” Robert said.
His years of employment in the health care industry led him to do all of his own research of potential options, a quest that eventually led him to the Capital Health CyberKnife Center.
Robert and his primary care doctor started talking about his care plan, and Robert started his search for a cancer center. “When my doctor and I discussed all of my options, we talked about brachytherapy, IMRT and the rest. I’m not one to passively approach anything so I started researching all of my potential treatment options, including those that are relatively new like proton therapy. Then I found CyberKnife.”
What he was referring to was the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System at the Capital Health Regional Cancer Center. CyberKnife is an image-guided radiosurgery system that delivers high doses of radiation to tumors and lesions in the brain, spine and other areas of the body with pinpoint accuracy while avoiding damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
“I started asking questions and talking to my friends and former colleagues who still work in the health care industry, and they recommended I see someone who specializes in CyberKnife radiosurgery. I knew there were some hospitals closer to my home that had just received CyberKnife, but I really felt comfortable with Capital Health because of the experience of their physicians who have been working with CyberKnife since the technology came out.”
Dr. Shirnett Williamson, who is now the medical director of Radiation Oncology and CyberKnife® at Capital Health, led Robert’s CyberKnife treatments.
“Surgery wasn’t my first choice. From my professional experience in the operating room, I know that surgery is performance art. You only get one shot to get it right and the skill of a surgeon is based on his or her ability to recover from a mistake. Radiation therapy is different as the treatment course is carefully planned and scrutinized well before the patient is ever brought in,” said Robert.
“With CyberKnife, there is an intense amount of planning. Dr. Williamson and the physicist planned my treatment course, and when she didn’t like it, they took their time and planned it again and that isn’t something that you can do during surgery. They worked very hard to get it right and to make sure that my treatment was as accurate as possible.”
Robert received five treatments every other day over the course of 11 days. Aware of the potential side effects of traditional radiation therapy, he was very pleased that CyberKnife left him with surprisingly little to no side effects.
“Initially there was some very minor irritation, but after 10 days, I was feeling perfectly fine again. My recovery was so fantastic that looking back, I think the initial biopsy had more side effects than the CyberKnife treatments,” Robert said.
“[Roxanne O’Byrne, Capital Health’s CyberKnife coordinator] and the entire team was amazing and very friendly and professional, and as someone who’s been on that side of the glass before, I really appreciated their professionalism.”
And the convenience of the treatments and how they were scheduled allowed Robert to tell his employees and business associates when he is ready, not when the treatments forced him to. “I drove up to Trenton every other day for about a week and a half without anyone at work knowing anything. I would simply tell them that I was coming in late from meetings on the days that I had to drive up and would show up at work ready to go afterwards,” Robert said.
After 90 days from his last treatment, his indicators were so positive that he decided to finally share what was going on. “Those who didn’t know were shocked. They had no idea that I was having intense cancer treatment during the work day,” Robert said.
“My priority from the start was to make sure that I chose the treatment that would give me the best chance for success and balance that against great quality of life. I’m convinced that CyberKnife gave me that 100% on both counts.”