INTERVIEW WITH MARK HOSAKA
Describe the type of cancer that you have.
When/how did you discover that you had cancer?
I’d had some abdominal pain and had entered Saint Rose Dominican Hospital in Henderson, Nevada in December 2001 to have a cyst surgically removed. It was during this operation that the surgeons discovered I had pancreatic cancer. They removed as much of the cancer as possible that day, but I was left with some residual cancer for which I needed treatment.
What was your reaction?
Shocked. There was no history of cancer in my family. And, because I’m a police officer, I keep myself in pretty good shape. So I was shocked and confused.
What did you do?
After I recovered from surgery, I was determined to get the best treatment possible. My stepmother referred me to her oncologist—Dr. Sinclair—and I went to Scripps Clinic in Encinitas, California where he practiced.
Who told you about IMRT?
Dr. Sinclair reviewed my charts and pathology, etc., and referred me to Dr. Fuller, who told me about IMRT. At that time, early in 2002, IMRT was not available in my home state, not even in Las Vegas. Once I realized that IMRT was the best possible treatment, I decided to go where I could get it. Dr. Fuller practiced at the Radiation Medical Group (RMG) in San Diego. I felt confident in him, so I decided to go there. I took medical leave and temporarily relocated to Encinitas, which is about a half-hour away from RMG.
What other treatment options were you given?
Surgery was obviously out as an option. Dr. Fuller mentioned some less advanced methods of radiation treatment, but I felt very confident about IMRT and elected to go with that.
Did you do any research?
I checked around on the Internet and this confirmed that IMRT was the right choice for me.
Where did you go for treatment and whom did you see?
I went to RMG in San Diego and saw Dr. Fuller and his staff. My course of 36 treatments, which are 5 times a week, began on March 4, 2002 and will end on April 23, 2002. I have completed 26 treatments to date.
Describe your IMRT experience, what was the treatment like?
Easy. Probably 10–15 minutes including positioning.
Was it painful?
Not at all.
Were there any side-effects?
Not really. No “sunburn” and no pain. At the end of the week, my abdomen feels a little tight and I have some fatigue. But I’m on a very aggressive chemotherapy regimen, so the side-effects may be from that.
How was the procedure described?
Dr. Fuller told me that there would be fewer side-effects with IMRT, which is true. He said that the benefit of IMRT was its ability to concentrate on one area and an increased dosage of radiation, which is more pinpointed to the cancer cells and not the healthy tissue around it.
Are you happy with your decision?
Tell me about your doctor and staff.
I think Dr. Fuller and his staff are very knowledgeable and helpful; very professional. They put me at ease and explain exactly what they’re doing. They keep a constant check on me. They’re a very competent team.
How are you doing now?
I feel good. Especially now that I’ve finished the chemotherapy. Because of my age and physical condition, they chose a very aggressive chemo regimen, which meant I wore a portable pack for four straight days. The pack infused the drug directly into my system and it stayed there for three weeks. Any side-effects I had, I believe came mostly from the chemo.
What is your advise to others?
Seek out the very best treatment that you can. Find a doctor that you feel comfortable with and you are confident in. I firmly believe that IMRT is the best treatment option for me. That’s why I relocated from Nevada to Encinitas. And I’m real happy with my decision.