Courtnell, a pastor inspired by his faith and the relationships in his life, turned to both when faced with the diagnosis of stage 2 prostate cancer in the fall of 2010. He also turned to specialists at Precision Radiotherapy Center, who provided the caring kind of relationships he expected from his treatment team.
Courtnell’s support began at home with Ann Marie, his wife of 39 years, and expanded to include their four grown children and their spouses, family, friends, co-workers, and his church. Finding the right physician and medical professionals to support him was equally important.
He decided against the first doctor he consulted because he did not care for the way he was treated. On the recommendation of a friend, he turned to Dr. William Barrett, a radiation oncologist at the Precision Radiotherapy Center and Medical Director at the UC Health Barrett Center.
In Dr. Barrett and the Precision Radiotherapy staff, Courtnell found the compassionate care he was looking for. Courteous and unhurried, Dr. Barrett presented several treatment options and worked with Courtnell to develop a treatment plan that was right for him.
Courtnell’s cancer was located in four areas of the prostate. He did not want to have surgery, and radiation implants were not an option because Courtnell did not wish to give up the blessing and joy of holding his first grandchild while undergoing treatment that could last for months.
The treatment best suited to him, he and Dr. Barrett agreed, was intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which uses precisely targeted beams of radiation to destroy the cancerous tissue, while sparing healthy surrounding tissue. While this treatment plan would take longer, it would allow Courtnell to enjoy his new grandchild without physical limitations.
When asked about his experience at the Precision Radiotherapy Center Courtnell’s response focuses on the relationships built during his treatment. “I was not a number,” he says. “After my first appointment, the receptionist greeted me by name.”
Beginning in November 2011, Courtnell underwent 38 treatments over a period of eight weeks. In a routine that barely impacted his day, he arrived at 7 a.m., underwent IMRT for 20 to 30 minutes, and then headed off to work. Although he felt tired the first week, there were few side effects.
Dr. Barrett and his staff -- therapists, nurses, receptionists, physicians -- were professional, friendly and attentive, Courtnell says. When he returns for follow-up appointments, “It’s like a reunion.”
Meanwhile, Courtnell’s presence has been an inspiration to others. “Courtnell had a wonderful, extremely positive attitude throughout his treatment course, and everyone looked forward to his arrival every day,” Dr. Barrett says.
As a pastor, Courtnell’s goal is to help others achieve their God-given potential. As a cancer survivor, he admits to doing a little preaching there as well: he encourages men of all ages to be vigilant about their prostate health.
Facts about prostate cancer:
According to the American Cancer Society, other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2013
About 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. Nearly two thirds are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 67.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 man in 36 will die of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In fact, more than 2.5 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.
'Courtnell's Story' is about one patient's health-care experience. Please bear in mind that because every patient is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Results are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.