A cancer diagnosis often forces patients to make difficult choices. When retired firefighter and realtor John Coppola discovered he had aggressive prostate cancer, preserving his quality of life became his primary goal.
It’s what ultimately led John to seek treatment at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Central New Jersey.
John’s cancer diagnosis came from a routine annual PSA test. John’s PSA went from years of hovering around 1 to soaring and rapidly increasing. When the results led doctors to predict that John had three to five years left to live, he had a choice to make.
John, who loves to travel and explore, had recently completed a trip to Mount Everest. Many of the more conventional treatment options would have forced him to put life on hold. “I decided my quality of life was more important than just extending my life,” he said.
Amidst the uncertainties, John explored many different treatment options before a friend told him about his experience and treatment at ProCure Proton Therapy Center.
ProCure’s team of experienced medical professionals can help maintain patients’ quality of life during treatment by using a highly targeted form of proton therapy known as pencil beam radiation. This cutting-edge technique enhances precision in comparison to conventional radiation methods, utilizing an ultra-fine proton radiation beam.
This heightened accuracy enables the radiation dose to precisely conform to the unique size and shape of the tumor, particularly benefiting irregularly shaped tumors located near critical organs and tissues. For the majority of cases, patients can maintain their daily routines both before and after each treatment session.
Through the careful modulation of radiation, unnecessary exposure to healthy tissues is minimized. This decreases the likelihood of experiencing side effects like gastrointestinal problems, incontinence, and impotence.
“Proton therapy at ProCure left me with very minimal side effects,” he added.
A decrease in side effects allowed John to retain his career as a top-selling realtor, endure his passion for travel, as well as continued intimacy with his wife.
Research conducted in clinical settings has indicated that proton therapy, in contrast to standard X-ray radiation-based treatments such as Cyberknife, results in up to a 60% decrease in radiation exposure to the rectum, bladder, and bowel. The promise of advanced proton therapy combined with a team of medical professionals who understood his commitment to maintaining vitality was enough to inspire John’s journey.
“People at ProCure were absolutely amazing,” he said. “They were some of the best, most dedicated medical professionals I’ve ever met.”
John recalls having a minor side effect and texting his ProCure oncologist and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Chon, at 3:30am one Saturday morning. He figured Dr. Chon would respond during daytime hours. Instead, Dr. Chon called him 15 minutes later – around 3:45am.
“I was apologizing all over the place for texting him in the middle of the night,” John said. “And (Dr. Chon) said “John, I get up early, too. I know if I waited until Monday to get back to you, you would worry about it.’ He said: ‘It’s nothing to worry about, a minor symptom.’ And it was gone in two days. Incredible.”
Starting with their first conversation, John said he was impressed by Dr. Chon.
John explained: “Dr. Chon was the first doctor since my diagnosis to treat me the respect as a person and not another business transaction. He listened and understood what was important to me, and very carefully and accurately explained what I could expect from my treatment.”
The journey to ProCure Proton Therapy Center wasn’t solely about medical treatment. It was a testament to John’s determination to continue living his life to its fullest.
Rather than stay at a local hotel for a month, John left his Connecticut home early in the morning five days per week to reach ProCure in time for his treatment session, which typically lasted around 15 minutes. Despite a roundtrip from Connecticut to New Jersey, the 58-year-old had plenty of energy to continue his normal work routine as a real estate agent.
His ProCure journey wasn’t just transformative for his health but also for his perspective on life.
“I walk 7 to 12 miles a day. I am at the best weight I’ve been in over 20 years. I’m physically stronger than I’ve been in over 20 years,” said John, whose cancer is now in complete remission. These days, John looks forward to spending many more years with his wife, his children, and future grandchildren.
Today, as an ambassador for ProCure, John is on a mission to inspire others facing similar crossroads. His story is a testament to the transformative potential of advanced medical care, where the focus isn’t solely on survival, but on empowering individuals to continue embracing the joys that make life meaningful.
“I went from a bleak outlook to a renewed love of life,” John said.