This we have learned


Mary Jo Swarzberg

The faint sounds of a Creedence Clearwater Revival song could be deciphered overhead in the sprawling, cheerful and populated cafeteria. A cacophony of voices merged with the sounds of people milling around, going from various food and beverage stations and standing in line at check-out registers. It was 7:00 a.m., breakfast time at The Swedish Medical Center – Cherry Hill Campus, in Seattle. We were there for my husband’s prostate cancer treatment. This was our first morning at the hospital after having arrived the night before. I was alone to eat in the cafeteria, as my husband could not take food or beverages that morning.

Seattle is progressive, exciting and youthful, which was very refreshing, coming from an over 55 retirement community! We were amazed at the number of cranes around the city. Indeed, Seattle currently holds the top place in the “crane” contest for the city in the U.S. that has the most cranes, which indicates the level of construction in a U.S. city.

Seattle, of course, is a tech city. As of November 2016, Seattle was home to six Fortune 500 companies: Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Weyerhaeuser, Expeditors International and Alaska Airlines. We went to Seattle for its technology.

Specifically, we were there for CyberKnife treatment, a non-invasive, targeted robotic administration of radiation therapy. Over the course of two weeks my husband had five treatments, which lasted about 45 minutes each.

The man who pioneered the CyberKnife procedure, Dr. Robert Meier (a Radiation Oncologist and Lead Investigator of a national clinical trial of using CyberKnife for treatment of prostate cancer), was my husband’s physician for the procedure. There are about 20 locations around the country where the CyberKnife treatment is given. Seattle (specifically at The Swedish Medical Center) is one of the largest treatment centers utilizing the CyberKnife for prostate cancer.

In consultation with his urologist, and several radiation oncologists, my husband chose, from various treatment modalities, CyberKnife.

And, what better place to go for treatment than Seattle?!

We had always pictured Seattle as a rainy and dreary city, but, as it turned out, our two and a half weeks stay there (actually, we were on Whidbey Island, staying with friends) was filled with clear, sunny days. Our stay with friends was the safe harbor we needed, in view of what my husband had on his plate.

Seattle is, quite simply, a city of non-car owning, biking, Uber/Lyft or public transportation-taking millennials and Gen X-ers. It also is a very diverse city ethnically and racially, again refreshing to us.

We are so grateful for all of the health care professionals, here and at The Swedish Medical Center, who were, and still are, with us through the first part of our journey. But, also important to us, is to share this information with as many people as possible.

Knowledge, especially knowledge about one’s health, is vital for optimal outcomes. This we have learned.