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To say Bill Gruccio’s 63rd year was challenging would be an understatement. He underwent four separate surgeries after his colon ruptured in September 2011. The trauma of these surgeries threw his body out of balance, and his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were considerably high the following April. PSA levels can indicate an increased risk of prostate cancer. Bill consulted his urologist, who explained that cancer cells tend to migrate where you are weak. “I was certainly vulnerable at that point,” recalled the Doylestown, PA, financial planner.
Results of a needle biopsy revealed Bill had stage one prostate cancer. His local urologist recommended a radical prostectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the prostate gland and the tissue surrounding it. “I started doing some research into other treatments, including less invasive Cyber Knife technology and da Vinci® robotic-assisted surgery. After all of my surgeries, I wanted to see if there was a viable alternative,” said Bill, who decided he needed a second opinion.
Bill's research led him to Fox Chase.
After consulting with several institutions including a large university teaching hospital in Philadelphia, Bill recalled, “I wound up at a Fox Chase Cancer Center Buckingham, a world-class cancer treatment center five minutes from my house.”
Bill made an appointment with Shelly Hayes, MD, radiation oncologist and director at the Buckingham facility, located 45 minutes north of Fox Chase Cancer Center's main campus. Dr. Hayes uses the cutting-edge Calypso™ 4D Localization System, a four dimensional monitoring technology that helps her more precisely and accurately guide radiation therapy for prostate cancer.
“Dr. Hayes explained the treatment clearly to me,” he said. Using Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, or IMRT, Dr. Hayes was able to precisely target and deliver higher doses of radiation tailored just for Bill by combining MRI and CT scans and ultrasound.
"I felt so fortunate to have a world class cancer treatment center like Fox Chase in my backyard."
After discussing his options with Dr. Hayes, Bill chose a course of 40 consecutive treatments of targeted radiation using IMRT. His treatment started during an appointment at Fox Chase Cancer Center’s main campus, where his prostate was implanted with the Calypso GPS “guide” to assure the pinpoint radiation therapy. He returned to Buckingham for the 40 doses, which were relatively quick appointments. “I felt so fortunate to have a world class cancer treatment center in my backyard,” he said. “It took no time and barely interfered with my ability to work.”
After completing the treatments, Bill enrolled in the THRIVE program led by Angela Oprendek at the Central Bucks YMCA. The 12-week program is designed to help cancer survivors restore and increase vitality and strength through exercise.
“I really made good strides in the program,” recalled Bill. “Dr. Hayes and Sue, her assistant, showed up at our graduation to cheer me on. Their support meant the world to me.”
"My experience with Dr. Hayes and Fox Chase was beyond belief."
“My experience with Dr. Hayes and Fox Chase was beyond belief,” he said. “The treatment was tailored just for me. Mentally, I just couldn’t handle another surgery.” Bill reports having no side effects, no dysfunction, and his PSA levels are back to normal. Through his experience, Bill has become an advocate of patients exploring alternative treatment options. “I send anybody who asks for a referral to Fox Chase.”