Guest Post: Bill Vancil

Posted by Jim Tuggey on July 17th, 2010 — Posted in Patient Testimonies

In July of 2004, I completed my proton treatment at Loma Linda. My experience was so rewarding, I wrote a book about it. In Chapter 27 of “Don’t Fear the Big Dogs,” I told of my last proton treatment:

In the changing room, as I was looking in the mirror, untying the perfectly-tied knot behind my neck that held up the hospital gown, the realization that my treatments were actually over hit me. Tears gushed out uncontrollably.

I was never able to establish the predominant source of those tears. Was it relief that the treatments were finished? Was it the knowledge that, maybe, I had truly been cured of cancer? Or, was it because the whole marvelous journey was almost over? The best I could determine it was a blend of all of those things. In the mirror I saw my own face, tanned by weeks in the California sun, reflecting a mystifying mosaic of sheer relief, genuine joy, and yes…profound sadness at the thought of leaving.

The receptionist, Levita, handed me a plain brown envelope which contained a certificate of completion from the Brotherhood of the Balloon and a beautiful gold lapel pin with the proton logo. I knew it represented an accomplishment I should be proud of and for which I should be grateful.

So, that’s it? First they told me I was sick. Then they treated me as if I were sick. Then they told me I’m not sick anymore. And, I still feel the same as I did before I found out I had cancer. It almost seemed too easy. As I walked down the hallway that would lead me out of the hospital, I contemplated the impact this place has had on so many lives over the years.

Loma Linda Medical Center is a Seventh-day Adventist Health Sciences Institution, and truly lives up to the Mission Statement posted in the radiation center lobby:

“The mission of Loma Linda University Medical Center is to continue the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, to make man whole, in a setting of advancing medical science and to provide a stimulating clinical and research environment for the education of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals.”

Thank God for those who work to advance medical research!

Now, six years later, I find that my time at Loma Linda has served me, and others, well. Being cured of cancer seems almost like a bonus. The other rewards include being able to counsel men who are contemplating their new challenge of facing prostate cancer. My confidence in medical professionals also served me well, as this year I spent three and a half months in University of Wisconsin Hospital having a liver transplant. During my time there, I often leaned on my Loma Linda experiences to help me maintain a positive attitude and hold confidence in my surgeons and other caregivers. Phone calls and emails from people at Loma Linda were truly appreciated.

While in the hospital, I continued to talk with men from around the country who called me to discuss treatment for prostate cancer. I was sure to tell them I was in the hospital for something unrelated to my prostate! I didn’t want them to think I’d had a recurrence. The following is from one of several emails I have received from Liangni Liu, who’s been contemplating going for proton treatment. This is dated June 16, 2010. I edited it slightly for length:

Hi Bill,

Yesterday unexpected news came to me that said I was approved. My wife and I were overwhelmed with sheer Joy and deep gratitude. We were suddenly in touch with an “ instinct of truth”~ an immediate awareness of what is right and true, a truth without reflection: God is alive, Magic is afoot.

I can never forget how your info, advice, and encouragement have helped me to cross over those difficulties. Fortune favored me to meet you in my life. Indeed, you are the angel God sent to me.

In order to speed the process, yesterday morning I faxed a personal appeal letter to insurance company, to express how I feel about the importance of Proton; how will it greatly effect my life quality, just speak from my heart. We are expecting to get an affirmative answer next week. Never was I that lucky so soon. I’ve been granted peace of mind.

In the presence of deep appreciation, I have no alternative but to live nobly.

Your friend, Liangni

For me, that’s what it’s all about. Being able to share my Loma Linda experience with other men, helping them assess their treatment choices, and seeing them enjoy the same positive outcome. I’m now working on my next book, as yet untitled, which will focus on the importance of keeping a positive attitude and appreciating the support and prayers received from friends and family during a challenging time.

So, what’s in store next? We never know. For example, last week I had a wisdom tooth pulled, and three days later lost my balance while walking the dog, fell down and cracked a rib. Ouch!

But, guess what?

Being alive to experience all of life’s ups and downs is far better than the alternative.

Bill Vancil
Madison, Wisconsin
Phone: 608-798-2600

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