Survivor Spotlight: Nancy Baker

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Nancy Baker 1_carriage_0.jpgIt started with a nagging cough. Conscientious about her health, Nancy Baker sought medical advice, and for three years her cough was treated as an allergy symptom. She eventually went to a pulmonologist and discovered in 2014 that she had lung cancer. A tumor was located in the center of her chest – in her lung and wrapped around her heart. It was not possible to surgically remove the tumor because of its location, so chemotherapy with radiation therapy was recommended as the course of treatment. Nancy had worked as an emergency room nurse at both UF Health and Baptist Health, and she understood the potential side effects of treatment. “I just knew I didn’t want traditional radiation,” she said.

She met with Dr. Bradford Hoppe, associate professor of radiation oncology at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, who believed proton therapy could help her. She said, “Dr. Hoppe fought with the insurance companies and was turned down three times. Then a clinical trial came up.” It was a cooperative group trial being done at cancer centers across the country and it would mean the treatment would only be available through a randomized flip of the coin. Nancy enrolled in the trial and was randomly selected to receive proton therapy.

“It was a blessing to have the clinical trial,” said Nancy. While she was on treatment she said her quality of life was not really affected very much. She had some tiredness and some skin discoloration at the proton entry point. She received chemotherapy and noticed that others at the infusion center being treated for lung cancer were having a tougher time. “I saw other people and I realized I wasn’t doing so bad.”

Nancy said the doctors and staff made her feel at ease during a very trying time. “These people treat you like you’re royalty. People know your name when you come for your appointment. Even two years later, they know who I am. If I had to have cancer, this is the place to have it.”

Not too long after she completed treatment, she resumed her normal active lifestyle: golfing, tennis and bowling. Now, two years later, she is still going strong. She said, “I can’t thank UF Health and Dr. Hoppe enough for saving my life.”

Paying it forward

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

Cancer Free. That is the hope of many people that walk through our doors every day. Thanks to the support of many, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute continues to advance cancer treatment and research that changes lives for the better.

November 15 is recognized as National Philanthropy Day® and we’d like to celebrate by thanking the many cancer survivors, family, friends and others who support our mission to offer cancer patients the best chance of cure with the least chance of side effects.

Every philanthropic act – big or small – has an enormous impact on the program and spirit at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Some of our young alumni have been busy “paying it forward,” giving to others in response to kindness shown to them, to spread the hope of a cancer-free future:


Rebecca Duff came to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute from Scotland. She was diagnosed with an ependymoma brain tumor at 20 years old. Prior to her diagnosis, Rebecca and some friends formed a group and began organizing fundraising activities for a friend receiving cancer treatments. When Rebecca found out about her brain tumor, the group was keen to continue the fundraising efforts to give back.

“I wanted to do something to give back to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute because it was a fantastic place that made me feel safe and welcome while undergoing treatment,” Rebecca recalls.

Exploring her adventurous side, Rebecca and her friends had been raising money through various activities, including skydiving, to give back. They also created and sold wrist bands and held a coffee event. Earlier this year, Rebecca handed over a big check for £650 (or approximately $805 US dollars) representing the money she had raised to help others like her receive cancer treatment.

Rebecca and her group of friends are continuing their passion to help people who are going through similar experiences and will continue to hold fundraising events, including a masquerade ball and ladies’ night event.



Jake Teitelbaum was diagnosed with refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 21. He battled through rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant then, shortly after his 22nd birthday, Jake underwent proton therapy. Throughout treatment, Jake met other people dealing with cancer that did not have as many resources as he did. While a chronic illness takes a toll on a person’s body, Jake believes it shouldn’t also have a debilitating impact economically. He came up with an idea – a sock business called Resilience – that will help fund cancer treatment expenses for people in need. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to a specific financially-strapped patient Jake has partnered with. Resilience was officially launched in September of this year and has already raised more than $800 for Resilience’s first recipient, a 14-year-old boy who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Jake says that he is excited to launch another custom sock design and will announce the second recipient this month. As Resilience grows, Jake also plans to branch out and help people with other illnesses in addition to cancer.

As Jake says, “The Resilience project is about fighting to become stronger. Stronger in body. Stronger in mind. Stronger in spirit. It’s about embracing terrible circumstances to learn and grow as a person. It’s about sending support, love, and of course, awesome socks, to someone who needs it.”



Nia Taylor-Jones, a 13-year-old from Wales in the United Kingdom, stopped by for a visit the week before Halloween to deliver sacks brimming with candy. She and her family were vacationing in Orlando and on their last day made a special trip to Jacksonville to deliver the treats along with a plaque of appreciation. She remembered the fun Halloween activities for children while she was on treatment for an orbital tumor in 2012. Now, four years later, she wanted to give something back and show her appreciation for all the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has meant to her.

Nia, her grandmother Lynette Goddard, and her uncle James Taylor-Goddard presented a plaque to Daniel Indelicato, MD, associate professor of radiation oncology at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and director of the pediatric program, Amy Sapp, RN, director of pediatric nursing, and Kimberly Ely, child life specialist. The plaque reads: “Nia Taylor-Jones & her family would like to dedicate this with love & affection to our friends at the Jacksonville Proton Therapy Institute for making a difficult time so easy to deal with.”

To learn more about how to support the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, please visit:

2016 Excellence Award Honoree: Roscoe Barksdale

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

(l-r) Stuart Klein, Executive Director; Roscoe Barksdale; Dr. Michael Good, Chairman, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Board of Directors

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute presented its 2016 Excellence Award to Roscoe Barksdale during a ceremony earlier this month. The award was established last year to recognize someone within the proton family, for example, employees, vendors, philanthropists or volunteers, who has made a significant contribution to the culture of excellence and patient care at the Institute.

Roscoe joined the Institute several years ago as a G4S private security guard working Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Since day one, he has gone above and beyond the call of duty and demonstrated a commitment to excellence that is exemplary.

He doesn’t stop with his duties of keeping patients and staff safe, but also looks out for the welfare of each person. In typical Roscoe fashion, he downplayed his contribution by saying, “I basically fit in and try to be of service if needed.” Executive Director Stuart Klein in his remarks said, “I can tell you from personal experience that Roscoe more than fits it. He has become, in many ways, the face of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. We conduct exit interviews with nearly every patient, and one of the first comments patients make is how Roscoe greeted them every day and made them feel welcome.”

Roscoe is a people person. He goes out of his way to smile and chat with everyone. He said helping people get in a good mood goes a long way to how they do with their treatment. Roscoe doesn’t like to see sad faces so he does what he can to be cheerful to help motivate patients to do what they have to do to get well.

As one patient wrote: “Dear Roscoe: You are one of the reasons why I have found Florida Proton so comforting. Wishing you the best.”

National Radiologic Technology Week

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

Therapists_Walt Disney and Friends_0.JPG
The team of radiation therapists dressed up for the Institute’s annual Halloween festivities.

Exceptional health care is the result of a team of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals working together toward a common goal. In our case it is the goal of a cancer-free future with minimal chance of side effects.

In honor of National Radiologic Technology Week® (Nov. 6-12), we would like to recognize and thank all of the radiologic technologists at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute for their dedication and passion, making this hope a reality for our patients and  alumni. The designated week raises awareness of the important role medical imaging and radiation therapists have in patient treatment and care. They are the ones responsible for operating the equipment, for preparing and positioning patients for each treatment and scan, and for helping patients feel at ease during the procedures.

Throughout the week, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute physicians and staff show their appreciation through a variety of ways to help the therapists know how important they are to the Institute and to the profession.

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is proud to honor and recognize the incredible work each staff member makes in the lives of our patients and alumni.


Health fair celebration continues

10year-logo_0.jpgThe celebration continues in honor of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s 10th anniversary. Alumni, family, friends and other members of the community are coming together to celebrate continued health and the advancement of proton therapy. The next event will take place on November 17 at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel on the Jacksonville Riverfront. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Each event includes fun games and prizes, massages, information on living a healthy lifestyle from a number of community resources and UF Health representatives, and how and why clinical research plays an important role at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. The event will also have opportunities to raise support for these research efforts.

We look forward to seeing you there. 

Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngIn spite of Hurricane Matthew grazing the Jacksonville coast Friday, Oct. 7, we endured. Many patients and staff evacuated their homes and dozens of adults and children sheltered at our facility. Thankfully, the storm was far enough offshore to keep the strongest winds from reaching us. Flooding was not an issue at the Institute, but areas at the beach, including St. Augustine, experienced storm surge. We were back to business-as-usual on Monday, Oct. 10. Several patients completed their course of treatment that day and rang the chime. To all who went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure our patients’ needs were met with as little disruption as possible, thank you.

Stuart L. Klein

Survivor Spotlight: Tynette Cherry

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

When Tynette Cherry was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 she knew she was in good hands. From an early age she had annual mammograms and checkups with her doctor because of a family history of breast cancer. As soon as the diagnosis was made, her UF Health primary care physician assembled a team of physicians at the academic health center. The surgeon, oncologist and radiation oncologist worked out a treatment plan for her that included chemotherapy to shrink the orange-sized tumor, surgery to remove most of the mass that was attached to her chest wall, and radiation, including proton therapy, to destroy the remaining tumor. Nearly four years later, Tynette is cancer-free and says that proton therapy saved her life. “I don’t feel that I would still be here without it, and I’m so very appreciative,” she said.

Hear more of Tynette’s story in this video.

Amy Sapp – Unsung hero of pediatric proton therapy

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

AmySapp1_0.jpgPediatric cancer patients have been a top priority at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute since the very beginning. In fact, one of the first people hired in 2006 was the Director of Pediatric Nursing Amy Sapp, a nurse who has dedicated her career to caring for the most vulnerable children. She has helped thousands of people in her career – from babies born prematurely to children at the end of life – and as the primary pediatric nurse at the Institute she has cared for more than 800 children with cancer.

One of the most significant milestones reached in the first decade of the Institute is growing the pediatric proton therapy program into the largest worldwide. On average, 25 children are treated daily. Amy credits the phenomenal nursing staff, physicians, radiation therapists, social workers and all the staff for this success. Daniel J. Indelicato, M.D., Director of the Pediatric Program, credits Amy. “I do not know anyone who works harder than Amy. Her effort and hard work are the primary reason for the success of the UF program,” he said. “She is the irreplaceable glue that holds our program together.”

Dr. Danny describes her as an inspiring leader who is smart, organized, professional and devoted to her patients. “I would say for the past 10 years, Amy has never taken an hour off work. By that I mean, even during the weekend, vacation, or evening, she will take responsibility for critical issues that arise. She does this because she cares immensely about her patients.”

As the pediatric program grew and eventually became the primary proton therapy provider to patients from the United Kingdom, Amy realized quickly that changes were needed to handle the highly complex cases. She streamlined the patient intake process, placing the pediatric nurse as the first and main point of contact for families. Parents rely on the nurse to manage all aspects of the referral, approvals, medical records and care. Amy acknowledged it is more work for the nurses, but it is worth it for the benefit to families. “I didn’t want parents to have that burden. It makes coming for treatment easier for families because they already have a relationship with their nurse case manager,” she said. “What would you want if it were you?”

Dr. Danny agrees that Amy’s leadership in merging the intake and nursing roles has been a game-changer for the pediatric program and one of many of her contributions to the success of the program. Putting patients first is fundamental. “Her most important overall contribution is represented in the meaningful connections she makes with our patients and families,” he said. 

The relationships with patients and families are the best part of the job, said Amy. She finds it especially rewarding when patients come back for not a follow up visit but just to visit. The patients also form lasting friendships with each other and many stay in touch, take vacations together and spend holidays together. Amy said, “Playing a small part in that is rewarding.”

Golf Tournament Fundraiser Rescheduled


The 12th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic has been rescheduled to Monday, November 14, 2016. The event was postponed from its original October date due to Hurricane Matthew. The tournament will take place at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., on both signature courses – The King & The Bear and The Slammer & Squire. For more information, visit or call Judy Holland at (904) 588-1401.

10th Anniversary Health Fair November 17


Mark your calendar to attend the next in our series of health fairs. Join us November 17, 2016, from noon to 4 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel on the Jacksonville Riverfront. Admission is free and includes food, games and prizes, massages, health screenings and information on living a healthy lifestyle.




About This Newsletter

The Precision Newsletter is an electronic-only publication that is distributed by email. Each issue is sent monthly to patients, alumni patients and friends of the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. As the official newsletter of the Institute, the content is compiled and prepared by our communications representative and approved by the editor Stuart Klein, executive director of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Special bulletin newsletters may occasionally be prepared when timely topics and new developments in proton therapy occur. If you would like to send a Letter to the Editor, please click here.


Keep In Touch

It is easy to stay in touch with us online at . Look at the top right corner of the homepage for Facebook , Twitter and YouTube icons, click and join us in the social media conversation. Also on the right side of the homepage there is a button for VTOC Patient Portal . Click here to open your secure account, view your records, complete clinical trial questionnaires and communicate with your nurse case manager.


Knowing how you are feeling during and after treatment is essential to providing you the best care possible and contributes to the care of future patients.