Executive Director Message

Numbers like 99 percent, 94 percent and even 74 percent when placed in context can tell a great story. In this case, they tell the story of thousands of men who have been cured of prostate cancer with proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute since 2006. These numbers represent the excellent outcomes for low-risk, intermediate-risk and high-risk prostate cancer patients treated five years or longer ago at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute who are today cancer-free.

The story is just as impressive for the excellent quality of life men have following proton therapy for prostate cancer. Less than one percent of men experienced bowel function issues and less than three percent experienced urinary function issues. These numbers tell the story of thousands of men who go on to live life as usual with no lasting problems caused by their treatment.

We are proud to tell this story. We are proud to help our patients go on to live life to the fullest.

Men Wear Gowns, Too

Men Wear Gowns Too - Tim Deegan
First Coast News chief meteorologist Tim Deegan

“Sometimes men have to wear gowns,” says chief meteorologist Tim Deegan of First Coast News in a new promotion called Men Wear Gowns, Too. Early detection is an important part of success in treating and curing many kinds of illness. It’s a reminder to men to take an active role in their health by having regular preventive screenings for prostate cancer and other health conditions.

We are partnering with First Coast News to get the word out that health screenings are not just a concern for women, it’s important for men, too. Dr. Nancy Mendenhall, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute medical director, was interviewed about men’s health and prostate cancer screenings. She said men need to take responsibility for their health and actively seek the best treatment options for their diagnosis.

Dr. Mendenhall went on to explain that prostate cancer when caught early has the best chance for cure. With proton therapy, the five-year prostate cancer patient outcomes are excellent according to a UF Health Proton Therapy Institute study published earlier this year. When looking at the five-year results of more than 1,300 men, the cancer-free rates are 99 percent for low-risk, 94 percent for intermediate-risk and 74 percent for high-risk prostate cancer.

Look for Dr. Mendenhall’s interview on First Coast Living, broadcast on WTLV NBC 12/WJXX ABC 25, Friday, Sept. 16 or online at firstcoastnews.com.

Survivor Spotlight: Alex Barnes

By Theresa Makrush

First United Kingdom patient now eight years cancer-free 

Patients travel from around the globe to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute for cancer treatment that is not available in their home countries. From the early days to the present day, people seek the expert medical team and cutting-edge technology at the Institute to give them the best chance for cure with the least risk of developing side effects. It is why Rosalie Barnes brought her four-year-old son Alex in 2008 all the way from the United Kingdom, the first patient from the UK treated at the Institute.

Watch Alex’s story:



Words of Celebration

Words of Celebration ArtIt has been a wonderful decade full of growth, happiness and life-changing health care for the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. To keep the excitement and festivities going, our patients have been hard at work creating another art gallery exhibit to mark the occasion. The focus of the exhibit – words. Something as simple as a kind word can make a positive imprint on someone’s life forever. Words have power and patients are using them to inspire, support and demonstrate joy for our anniversary celebration. The new exhibit, "Words of Celebration," is now up for viewing.

We’d love to hear what words of celebration you have to inspire, support and celebrate. Share your word with us on our Facebook (@FloridaProton) or Twitter page (@UFProtonTherapy).

Words of Celebration Art Work


Helping kids kick cancer

Subway Helping Kids Kick Cancer Promotion

Since 2011, Subway restaurants in Savannah and Macon, Georgia, have set up an in-store fundraiser called The Children Fund to support our pediatric program. Customers were encouraged to donate one dollar toward the cause in return for a discounted meal. This year, The Children Fund has raised more than $9,000.

Children deserve the chance to enjoy life — even though they have been diagnosed with cancer. Through Subway’s Children Fund campaign, more than $40,000 has been donated to help support this mission and provide funding for our world-renowned Child Life program, family fun nights, transportation, artist and art supplies and more.

We’d like to say a special thank you to Savannah and Macon Subway restaurants and to all who participated. Your donations will help children fight cancer and have a better quality of life.

Teeing up to fight cancer

12th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.®Join the fellowship and fun of the 12th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic. UF Health Proton Therapy Institute’s primary fundraising event is Oct. 9-10, 2016, at The World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Fla. There’s still time to register to play and to sponsor the annual tournament and festivities that provide crucial support for research efforts at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

The event kicks off with a dinner and silent auction on Sunday, Oct. 9. For all who register as a player, you automatically have a ticket to the dinner. However, tickets to attend just the dinner and silent auction are also available for those who do not wish to play golf.

The golf tournament will be played Monday, Oct. 10, on both of the official courses of the World Golf Hall of Fame. The King & Bear is a course that has the distinction of being the only design collaboration between namesakes Arnold “The King” Palmer and Jack “The Bear” Nicklaus. The Slammer & Squire is a championship resort course designed by Bobby Weed with consultants Sam “The Slammer” Snead and Gene “The Squire” Sarazen.

Your support ensures the continued growth of our clinical research program, gathering the data that is necessary to advance the understanding of proton therapy. A special thanks to our anniversary sponsors IBA, .decimal and Shepherd.

Please join us in support of proton therapy research and register today at www.playgolffightcancer.org.

Or to donate or support the cause in some other way, if you are not available for the event, please contact the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute:


Health Fairs To Kick Off 10th Anniversary Celebration

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute 10 Year LogoAs part of the 10-year anniversary of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, we’re throwing health fairs to celebrate your continued health and the advancement of proton therapy. Admission is free. Each event will include 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. Each event will have opportunities to raise support for these research efforts.

All alumni, family and friends are invited to attend. The next health fairs are scheduled for November 17, 2016, and January 26, 2017, at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel on the Jacksonville Riverfront.


Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngOur anniversary slogan – “10 Years. One Mission. Cancer Free.” – is a motto we live and breathe every day at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. It represents the power of protons and the hope that is felt throughout the halls.

From our first patient in August 2006 to the patients going through treatments today, thousands of lives have been impacted by proton therapy. As we look back on the accomplishments of proton therapy and how the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has been at the forefront of a revolution in radiation oncology, none of it would have been possible without all of you.

I want to personally say thank you to our superb staff – for providing expert treatment in a way that takes the whole person into account. Thank you to the various research teams – for your commitment to the advancement of proton therapy. And a big and special thank you to our patients, alumni and caregivers, whom we have come to regard as an extension of our family – for your unwavering support throughout the past 10 years.

I encourage you to visit www.floridaproton.org to learn more about important milestones, research and other advancements in proton therapy over the past 10 years at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.

Here’s to another 10 years and more,

Stuart L. Klein

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Celebrates 10 Years of Treatment

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

The first proton therapy cancer center in the Southeast celebrates its 10th year of bringing state-of-the-art radiation oncology treatment to cancer patients. Since August 2006, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute has been committed to delivering advanced, noninvasive cancer treatment in a way that takes the entire patient into account so they can have the best chance to beat cancer and live life to the fullest. The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is recognized internationally as a leader in proton therapy and has earned numerous rankings and recognitions, including:

  • Number one pediatric program, treating more pediatric patients daily than any other proton center in the world
  • Fourth largest proton therapy provider in the world for total patients treated
  • Among the top-rated cancer centers in Florida, designated a Florida Cancer Center of Excellence
  • The only proton therapy center in Florida that is accredited in radiation oncology by the American College of Radiology

When the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute opened its doors in August 2006, proton therapy was a new cancer treatment to the Southeast United States. Since then, the institute has offered more than 6,400 patients from 30 countries a promising alternative to traditional radiation. Today, the Institute is equipped to treat more than 20 different types of cancer and treats approximately 100 patients each day.

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is looking toward the future with a $39 million expansion currently underway. The centerpiece of the multiphase project is the addition of a compact, single-room treatment system. The 10,000-square-foot expansion includes both an accelerator, used to speed up the protons, and a treatment gantry equipped with pencil beam scanning – an advanced proton therapy delivery technique for increased precision. When the addition is completed, the facility will have five treatment rooms – four gantries and one fixed beam room – and will increase patient capacity by approximately 25 percent. These updates will also enhance efficiency, patient and staff safety, and treatment accuracy.

 “The past 10 years have been an exciting and rewarding experience. We have seen firsthand the power of proton therapy work for thousands of people who have walked through our doors. The precision of proton therapy increases both the chance for a cure and the chance of avoiding radiation-induced side effects for many of our patients in both the short and long term,” said Nancy Mendenhall, medical director at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “Over the next 10 to 20 years, I believe the field will continue to advance and we’ll see even more demand for proton therapy as the radiation oncology treatment of choice for numerous malignancies.”

 “Celebrating our 10-year anniversary is a significant milestone. As avid believers in the power of proton therapy, we continually strive to advance the field through groundbreaking research and to deliver the highest standard of care to help all who come through our doors have the best possible experience throughout treatment and beyond,” said Stuart Klein, executive director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “It’s for this reason that the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is regarded as one of the world’s foremost leaders in radiation oncology.”

With proton therapy, cancer patients have had access to one of the most advanced, noninvasive cancer treatments available. Proton therapy delivers a precise radiation treatment while destroying cancer cells and minimizing damage to healthy tissue. This reduces side effects and lessens the risk of developing complications from treatment later in life. It is especially beneficial for treating cancer in children and adults with cancers in sensitive areas like the head, neck, lung, breast and prostate.

Located in Jacksonville, Florida, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is staffed, situated and structured as a major clinical research facility, and serves as a center for multidisciplinary research involving all interests that touch cancer and its treatment.


Survivor Spotlight: Ben Smith

First patient treated enjoying life after the cure

By BeckyLynn Schroeder

SHANDS JPGS-9595_0.jpgThe past 10 years have been eventful for 64-year-old Ben Smith. He and his wife, Lisa, have raised two children, restored a 36-foot sailboat, spent months sailing around the Bahamas and are planning other trips around the world. Enjoying life has always been a priority for Smith, even after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005.

Smith, a now-retired aerospace engineer, did his own research on prostate cancer treatment after his urologist had suggested a radical and potentially life-altering treatment. His search led him to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, then still under construction, and he would become the first person treated at the facility. For background on Smith’s diagnosis and treatment, read a previous article, “Moving on from prostate cancer.” 

“You have to be your own advocate. Many doctors recommend the treatment they know best – but that might not mean it’s the right path for you to take. Of course, the end game is to get rid of cancer. But when you come out on the other side, you also want to have a decent quality of life.”

“When I was first diagnosed, I was scared. I was a young man, had teenage kids, a beautiful wife and I felt like I had just received a death sentence. But, it’s not. It’s a curable disease and proton therapy allows many people to keep living and not be straddled with devices and diapers,” said Smith.

Smith recalls that he had no reservations about waiting a year for the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute to open for treatment as he felt it was his only viable option. When he arrived at the treatment facility the first day it was open in August 2006, to him it felt like they had built the facility just for him.

“You don’t just have a doctor and a therapist, there’s also a team of physicists, computer programmers, software engineers, hardware engineers and company representatives all looking at you and your little walnut-sized prostate, in my case. I always felt that I was well taken care of and the staff was so dedicated and simply unbelievable from day one,” Smith notes about his initial impressions of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. “I went through 29 treatments and never felt like I was over radiated and I never got burned. I also did not and do not suffer to this day from impotency and incontinence – common side-effects from more conventional, radical forms of prostate cancer treatment.”

“My doctor had said to me that I can’t say that I’m ‘cured’ from cancer for at least five years after treatment. Well, it’s 10 years later and I’m proud to say that I’m cured. I’ve beaten prostate cancer and, thanks to proton therapy and the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, I’ve been able to maintain a fairly active lifestyle and just live a regular life.”

Smith and his wife are currently visiting their adult children in the western U.S. and will be spending a few months in New Zealand. They have closed the book on cancer and are enjoying life to the fullest.


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 floridaproton.org . 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.