Troy’s Story: Proton Therapy for Brain Cancer

Share

Troy Witt, 65, a London, Kentucky resident and a self-proclaimed “country boy,” says he loves his family, fishing, woodworking and riding on his tractor.

But all of these activities have been put on hold since spring 2016 when Witt’s watery eye led him to his optometrist.

“He must have seen something in the back of my eye because he sent me for a CT scan,” he says. “They saw that mass.”

Witt says his daughter Rebecca Disher, who is a physician’s assistant at a local hospital in the Cincinnati area, did some investigating.

“She works with doctors, and she told them, ‘This is the only daddy I got. If it was your daddy, who would you go to?’” he says. “They told her to send me to UC (Health).”

Vincent DiNapoli, MD, PhD, a surgeon with UC Health and a member of the the Brain Tumor Center at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute and UC Cancer Institute, saw Witt in April, and an MRI was done. He found a brain tumor the size of a fist.

“Besides my watery eye, I never had any symptoms. Dr. DiNapoli scheduled me for surgery the next day,” says Witt, adding that he underwent two additional surgeries, one in May and one in June, to repair the area where the tumor was removed.

“They used skin from my arm and a vein from my leg,” Witt says. “Everyone was just as nice as they could be—from the doctors to the nurses to the people at the front desk. I had a lot of people praying for me, too—from my church family back home clear out to California. After every surgery, I was up and walking the next day, as if nothing had happened. It was the great physicians, but also, it was the Lord. I thank Him for all he brought me through.”

Witt says during follow up appointments, a remaining piece of tumor was found, along with other small cancerous spots surrounding the area, which made him a candidate for proton treatment.

Proton therapy, a form of radiation treatment used for certain types of cancers, delivers radiation to a tumor area with remarkable precision, sparing healthy tissues. Proton therapy works by extracting positively charged protons from hydrogen gas and accelerating them through a cyclotron (a particle accelerator) up to nearly two-thirds of the speed of light. The protons are guided to the tumor site by magnetic and electrical fields. They are propelled with just enough energy to reach a precise point in the tumor and then stop before they can harm nearby, uninvolved tissue.

Witt is one of the first patients to be treated at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center/UC Health Proton Therapy Center, which officially opened in August 2016 and is only one of 25 in the country. It is also the only facility in the world with a gantry (radiation treatment room with a moveable beam) dedicated exclusively to cancer research.

Witt, who received daily treatments for 7 weeks beginning Oct. 5, completed his last treatment Nov. 21. He stayed with his daughter and her children, grand-daughter Elizabeth Purcell and grandson Evan Purcell, in Fairfield, Ohio, during therapy stints.

“I love being able to see them and spend time with them,” he says, “and Dr. (John) Breneman is a fine fella, too. He and the rest of the folks (at the Proton Therapy Center) take good care of me.”

Breneman, MD, is medical director of the center, a professor emeritus of radiation oncology and adjunct professor of neurosurgery at the UC College of Medicine, as well as chief of pediatric radiotherapy at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and a member of the UC Gardner Neuroscience and UC Cancer Institutes. He oversaw Witt’s therapy at the facility.

With treatment behind him, Witt is simply looking forward to getting back to the things he loves.

“I’m just looking forward to being pure old me again—playing Frisbee with my dog, spending my time with my little wife of 50 years (Brenda), planting a garden in the spring,” he says. “The Lord has made this easier for me, and my family and friends have been with me every step of the way. I’m a blessed man.”

— Katie Pence

 

This entry was posted in Hope Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Print This Page
  • Make an Appointment: Schedule Now
  • Sign up for our newsletter!
  • UCNI Weekly Blog
  • Hope Stories

    • Alicia’s Story: Multiple Sclerosis

      Alicia’s Story: Multiple SclerosisAlicia is relishing a life that is filled to the brim: she is a wife, a mother, a runner and a master at living with multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed in the late 1990s, Alicia had “a bumpy ride” in the beginning. But...
    • Amber’s Story: Ruptured Aneurysm

      Amber's Story: Ruptured Aneurysm The only visible sign of Amber Gray’s ordeal is the long slender scar that runs along her forearm. It is the area where a surgeon carefully removed her radial artery, which was needed to bypass a damaged artery in her...
    • Adam’s Story: Post-accident Recovery

      Adam’s Story: Post-accident RecoveryAdam and two friends were tooling down the freeway on their motorcycles one fine Sunday last October when the accident occurred. Adam, who liked to feel the breeze on his shaved head, was not wearing a helmet. Changing lanes, he...
    • Zettie’s Story: Aphasia

      Zettie's Story: Aphasia In November of 2004, Zettie Williams confronted what neurologists consider one of the most feared consequences of stroke. When a therapist showed her a photograph of her son, she knew she was looking at her son, but she couldn’t say...
    • Troy’s Testimonial: ‘Out of 5 Stars, They Get 6’

      Troy’s Testimonial: ‘Out of 5 Stars, They Get 6’ Troy Sheldon has something to say, and he’d like...
    • Amy’s Story: A Battle With MS

      Amy's Story: A Battle With MSIn retrospect, multiple sclerosis had probably been stalking Amy for a long time. She had suffered from chronic headaches in high school, and her seasonal allergies had been over the top. Then, in her mid-30s, the busy wife and mother...
    • Troy’s Story: Proton Therapy for Brain Cancer

      Troy's Story: Proton Therapy for Brain Cancer Troy Witt, 65, a London, Kentucky resident and a self-proclaimed "country boy,” says he loves his family, fishing, woodworking and riding on his tractor. But all of these activities have been put on hold since spring 2016 when Witt’s...
    • Paula’s Story: Clot-Retriever Success

      Paula's Story: Clot-Retriever Success No one ever wants to suffer a stroke. But when Paula suffered a major, life-threatening stroke in September 2013 while working at a local deli, one might say that her timing was perfect. First and foremost, Paula got to the University...
    • Christine’s Story: Stroke

      Christine's Story: StrokeThere was a sliver of a chance, maybe, and most likely the emergency room doctor thought there was no chance at all. Christine had arrived at the community hospital comatose, brought by her parents, who had come home after working...
    • Frank’s Story: Parkinson’s Disease

      Frank's Story: Parkinson's DiseaseSome people have vacation homes. Frank has the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute. This is where he comes for comprehensive, compassionate medical care for Parkinson’s disease, which he has lived with for 15 years. “They make us feel safe,” says Frank’s wife,...