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As a former employee at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, Walt Schneiderwind knew the criteria he would use for choosing a treatment facility when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Walt had routine blood work performed prior to a knee replacement and the results were concerning. His prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were elevated, which can indicate an increased risk of prostate cancer. His doctor ordered a biopsy and the results were positive for cancer. The knee-replacement was tabled in favor of prostate surgery, which he had at an institution in Maryland.
"There was a chance I'd need radiation."
"Since one of my surgical margins tested positive, I was told there was a chance that I'd need radiation." said Walt, who retired after 20 years in the US Public Health Service to take over his family's 25 acre flower and vegetable farm in Uhlertown, Pennsylvania.
His doctors kept a close eye on Walt and within a year, his PSA levels spiked again. "When it comes to cancer, there are no guarantees, which is why I spent quite a bit of time researching physicians and facilities that treat my type of cancer. It was time for Plan B," said Walt, who turned 68 in 2010. This time, he opted to be treated at Fox Chase Cancer Center, under the care of radiation oncologist, Shelly Hayes, MD, who serves as the director of Fox Chase Cancer Center Buckingham, not far from his Bucks county home. Walt completed 34 radiation treatments in the spring of 2010.
"Fox Chase is a cancer center of national acclaim within 40 miles of my home."
"Fox Chase's comprehensive cancer team has treated thousands of patients with my diagnosis," he said, going on to describe the methodical approach he used to choose Fox Chase. "They have additional protocols if needed; all phases of clinical examination, diagnosis, treatment and re-evaluation are done in-house, i.e., clinical assessment, radiographic studies, laboratory tests, biopsy, slides, staging, radiation. They have a residency, internship and fellowship program in addition to an ongoing cutting-edge research program. Fox Chase health professionals publish research in professional journals and present their programs and results at annual professional meetings."
"Fox Chase Buckingham is a wonderful facility."
Walt can't say enough about Dr. Hayes and her staff in Buckingham. "Fox Chase Buckingham is a wonderful facility. They are all special people. In addition to the technical aspect of what they do, it's the human aspect that really stands out. Each day of my treatment I sensed a mindful, connection with the staff from Sue at the front desk to the radiation therapist, the nursing staff and Dr. Hayes herself. Everyone was caring and professional. It's frightening to receive a diagnosis of cancer, followed by surgery and then be told that I was not rid of the cancer and needed further treatment. However, the skill, concern and reassurance of Dr. Hayes helped calm both my wife's and my fears as we navigated this phase of my treatment."
"When I reflect on my care at Fox Chase Buckingham, I get tears in my eyes, a smile on my face and a feeling of deep gratitude."
Fortunately, Walt had no side effects from the radiation therapy. "I work from sun up to until sundown around our house and farm, and I didn't miss a day ... with the exception of an occasional afternoon nap, as suggested by Dr. Hayes." Now that his radiation therapy is complete, he goes to Fox Chase Buckingham for follow up visits every 6 months, a clinical examination and blood work which has been clear. "I'm sure Dr. Hayes' ears regularly 'burn' because there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about and thank her," he said. "When I reflect on my care at Fox Chase Buckingham, I get tears in my eyes, a smile on my face and a feeling of deep gratitude."