Sparks resident Bill Riley has a date. Daily. But unfortunately, it's not with his wife.
Every weekday at 11 a.m., Riley shows up - same time, same place. After about 20 minutes taking care of business, he returns to work.
The business at hand: treating his prostate cancer.
"I feel absolutely no side effects whatsoever," Riley said. "If I didn't know what the machine was really doing, I wouldn't even believe it."
What the machine is doing is delivering tens of thousands of highly targeted "beamlets" of radiation in a 360-degree spiral pattern around him. Simultaneously, his physicians are reviewing a three-dimensional view of surrounding internal structures through the use of a computed tomography (CT) scan.
Riley says he is living proof that the treatment allows him to maintain his active personal and professional life. He is married with five children and recently began a second career after working with UPS for 28 years. Now, his reinvention has taken him into the financial industry, where he works for the local branch of Waddell and Reed.
"I have always been an investment junkie, and I've always loved helping people," he said. "So this is my opportunity to put my passion to work and shift gears."
As such, he has chosen a treatment for prostate cancer that allows him to be fully functional and fully engaged in his life. TomoTherapy offers no pain, no recovery from invasive procedures like surgery, no listlessness, no significant side effects.
"I'm blown away by the fact that you can successfully treat a disease like prostate cancer and not suffer the consequences like you would do with chemotherapy or surgery," he said. "And personally, I like the routine that comes from knowing I'm going to the same place, the same time every day. I've come to count on it, and it was easy to make the adjustment."
Of course, the ease is facilitated by a process that is, in Riley's words, "so simple."
"I go in, they treat me, and I leave," he said. "It takes about 15 to 20 minutes. There's no paperwork, and I go right back to work after. It's amazing."
Such consistency has allowed Riley to bond with other patients who have appointment times before and after his.
"I've watched two people graduate, so to speak," he said, referring to patients who successfully finished their treatments. "I'm so looking forward to the day when I'm done as well. I'll really feel like I've beat this, like I've won."
"Any time the 'c' word comes up - any time someone is diagnosed with cancer - it shocks you," he said. "But there are so many ways to treat (it) nowadays, it's important to deal with it, learn a lot and be positive."
And he often finds himself staying positive while undergoing the very treatment that is allowing him to live a longer, happier life.
"It's rather quiet in the machine, so I tend to daydream a bit," he said. "In fact, I sometimes have to stop myself from falling asleep. But this is my 15 minutes to think about what I want to think about. And a lot of what I think about is how great this machine is and how the people working there are giving me a new chance at life."
*Excerpt form "Options Abound" by Mikalee Byerman in Volume 1 Issue 2 of Renown Journey. Read this entire story or other stories from Renown Journey
More patient stories