In 2019 Tommie was living his best life. He loved hitting the gym frequently, he had a girlfriend and was working hard as a refrigeration, heating and air conditioning installation and repairman. But suddenly, it seemed, he started developing pain that he knew was not ordinary. He immediately went to the doctor to get it checked out.
Getting his results wasn’t quite as immediate. It took myriad tests and visits to the doctor over many months to get any answers. Finally, an answer that made sense – Tommie was diagnosed with “intermediate prostate cancer”.
He went online at the advice of family and started investigating his options and happened to read about the California Proton Center in San Diego. He immediately set it up an appointment. Unfortunately, it was another long battle with insurance to get the green light to go in for treatment. But Tommie is persistent, and after many months fighting with them, he prevailed.
The Proton Center, it turns out, is a three-hour drive from Lancaster, where Tommie lives. But given his condition, he made the drive – there and back for the first 8 days of his 32 days treatment plan. Tommie says he took part in a clinical trial – he skipped the standard of care and went straight to this clinical trial because that’s what doctors said would help him most. The biggest challenge was traveling the distance; “It was hard on me – but I was willing to do it because I didn’t want to die.”
Lucky for him, someone at the Proton Center knew about Lazarex Cancer Foundation and told Tommie to give them a call. He did and it all came together quickly, he remembers. “After 7 or 8 days of driving three hours each way, Lazarex offered to reimburse me for my travel. That not only meant mileage, it also meant I could stay the night in San Diego, get some rest, focus on my health, and not be on the road if that’s what I needed. I was overwhelmed and grateful. It was a big relief getting that reimbursement check.”
Today Tommie’s clinical trial has wrapped up, but he is still doing follow-up appointments. He drives to the Proton Center once every four months for blood tests and Lazarex continues to reimburse him for mileage. Since Tommie can’t work right now, this is a travel expense that would otherwise be a drain on his pocketbook. Lazarex has alleviated that financial burden.
“I’m feeling pretty good! Things are starting to get back to where they used to be. My confidence is slowly returning. And I try not to take things for granted.” One thing he says he will never take for granted is the care Lazarex has taken in his wellbeing. “Lazarex truly cares. That’s rare. It soothes all your pain and uplifts your spirit. It actually made my treatment go smoother.”