In October of 2011, California resident Forrest “Skip” was unexpectedly hospitalized with severe stomach pain. After routine tests were unable to identify the source of his pain, Skip was sent home.
One month later, Skip received a phone call that would forever change his life: he had stage IV lung cancer, which had metastasized to his adrenal gland. Having been a smoker most of his life, this was the news Skip feared most. Knowing that lung cancer is the second most common cancer and the primary cause of cancer-related death in men, Skip knew he needed to find a treatment that would give him the best fighting chance.
Skip was referred to Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco Medical Center where his radiation oncologist, Dr. Laura Ellen Millender, made it clear that he was not a candidate for surgery due to his age and the fact that his cancer had already spread to his adrenal glands. Instead, Dr. Millender suggested that Skip consider treating his lung tumors with the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System, a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body. During CyberKnife treatment, high-dose beams of radiation are delivered to the tumor site with extreme accuracy, while the patient lays comfortably, breathing normally. The CyberKnife minimizes radiation to the surrounding healthy tissue and allows doctors to treat tumors without the risks and side effects often associated with surgery.
A former mechanical engineer who helped build the very first six axes robot more than 34 years ago, Skip’s background in mechanics and technology helped him understand how the CyberKnife works and reassured him that his decision to opt for this robotic treatment option was the right one. With the added advantage that treatment margins are significantly smaller with robotic radiosurgery than traditional radiation therapy, Skip felt optimistic about his chances for a successful treatment, fewer side effects and positive outcome.
In late November 2011, Skip began a series of three CyberKnife treatments on the lesions in his right lung, followed by three CyberKnife treatments on his adrenal gland. He was surprised and impressed at how easy each treatment session was. Skip’s six-month PET scan in June 2012 came back clean and showed that there was no longer any sign of cancer in his lungs. Skip plans to receive additional CyberKnife treatment for his adrenal cancer in the near future.
“Since my CyberKnife treatment, I feel great,” said Skip. “I’m able to participate in any activities I want and am enjoying spending more quality time with my supportive and loving wife and family.” Thanks in part to his CyberKnife treatments, Skip’s quality of life has been preserved, a fact that has prompted Skip and his wife to plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii next year to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.
As of the creation of this patient profile, Forrest found his CyberKnife treatment to be successful.