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Thankful for Radiation Therapy: “If you need it, take it.”

Monday, November 8, 2021

When 83-year-old Roosevelt Booker was told he needed to receive radiation treatment for prostate cancer, he was willing to try anything to get better.

Booker did not know he had prostate cancer until a routine blood test performed by his primary care physician revealed a concern. His subsequent workup by a urologist confirmed prostate cancer. He discussed all options and elected to pursue radiation therapy.

Since Booker had previously received radiation in 2016 for lung cancer, he knew what to expect.

“If I hadn’t have taken radiation for lung cancer, I probably would have been scared. But, I wasn’t scared. I thought if it helped me with that, then it’s going to help me with this,” he said.

Instead of surgery, radiation therapy can be used to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells, and in Booker’s case, prostate cancer cells.

As a Statesville resident, Booker has always gone to Iredell Health System for his healthcare needs and received his radiation treatments at Iredell’s J. Allen Knox Radiation Therapy Center.

When a patient needs radiation treatment, they visit a doctor called a radiation oncologist who determines the best course of action and tailors the radiation treatment specifically for them.

Then, the patient is scheduled for a computerized tomography (CT) simulation, or mapping scan, to precisely locate the cancerous area. These CT images are used to plan how the treatment machine, called a linear accelerator, will be programmed to deliver the radiation treatment.

The radiation plan is a collaborative team effort between a dosimetrist, physicist, and the patient’s radiation oncologist. The final plan goes through several safety measures before being implemented.

A patient’s first of many treatments is given by a radiation therapist on a linear accelerator. At Iredell’s radiation therapy center, most patients are treated on a Varian TrueBeam, which is one of the most advanced linear accelerators in the world.

Booker had 44 radiation treatments at the radiation therapy center, each of which lasted around 5-15 minutes.

While there is a common misconception of radiation, receiving radiation therapy itself is not painful.

“Treatment does not hurt. You cannot taste, smell, hear, see, or feel the radiation,” said Jerry Sintay, Director of Radiation Therapy at Iredell Health System.

Booker agreed.

“I would talk to the people who were giving me the radiation, and everything was great because of the way they did their job,” he said.

He thinks very highly of his radiation care team and is extremely appreciative of their help and genuine concern for his wellbeing.

“The radiation staff made me feel comfortable. They were right there for me and would encourage me by telling me I was doing good,” said Booker.

“At each treatment, the radiation team met me with a smile, and when I got ready to go, I left with a smile,” he added.

Booker completed his last treatment for prostate cancer in March of this year and has been doing well since then.

“I believe the radiation treatments have helped me,” he said. “I am satisfied because my cancer could have gotten a lot worse. I took the radiation, and I think it really helped.”

As he reflects on his experience with radiation therapy, Booker encourages those who need radiation to get it and not be worried or scared.

“If you need radiation, take it. If it’s going to help, you’ve got to do it,” he said.

During National Radiologic Technology Week, November 7-13, make sure to thank a radiation therapist for the incredible work they do in ensuring patient safety and providing life-saving cancer care.

For more information about radiation therapy and other cancer treatments, talk to your physician or call the J. Allen Knox Radiation Therapy Center at 704-878-4615.

Back Row (left to right) : Dr. Leyrer, Marcy Horton, Bob Vandeborne, Shellie Brown, Dr. Gaiser, Jerry Sintay
Front Row (left to right): Dr. Tye, Amanda Everhart, Katie Ballard, Carla Keever​