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Ringing with Hope Bob walker, st. joseph

Husband. Father. Manager. For a man who’s had many titles over the years, Bob Walker, 71, now celebrates another he has added to the list: survivor.

As a retiree, Bob fills his time caring for family members, golfing, boating, and traveling with his wife Karen throughout the United States. That all changed when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer last year.

Upon hearing the news, Bob met with radiation oncologist Peter Paximadis, MD, and urologist Benjamin Stockton, MD, to discuss a treatment plan. Because of his test results, they suggested surgery as soon as possible.

“Both Dr. Paximadis and Dr. Stockton were very upfront,” said Bob. “They discussed my options and a course of action. They shared their thoughts and advice, but ultimately they left the decisions up to my wife and me.”

Throughout the experience, Bob appreciated how his doctors collaborated with him and Karen and included them in the treatment plan. Bob was also supported by the radiation oncology team as he underwent radiation treatments, which use high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells with minimal pain. Treatments can be daily for up to eight weeks at a time, which means patients and staff get to know each other well.

“All of the staff were phenomenal,” said Bob. “From the very first day when they came and got me out of the waiting room, I could tell they cared. They asked how I was doing and what I had planned later in the day. They took the time to talk with me.”

During his treatment, Bob knew he wanted to do something to celebrate his care team and help other cancer patients. He heard about a retired Navy Admiral who started a tradition of ringing a bell after completing his cancer treatment. In the Navy, eight bells rung signify the end of a watch. The Admiral took that tradition and changed it to three bells for cancer treatment.

Bob assembled and donated a bell and plaque written by the Admiral so patients receiving radiation therapy at Lakeland Medical Center could also have the opportunity to celebrate.

“There’s joy in completing treatment or even a stage of it. It’s a celebration that you finished and a credit to the staff,” said Bob.

Keeping with tradition, Bob had the honor of ringing the bell on his last day of treatment. Ultimately the bell is a tribute to others who have been affected by cancer and the care team that helped to see Bob through his treatment.

Read Bob's full story at spectrumhealthlakeland.org/bob

Prostate cancer affects 1 in every 9 men. Symptoms aren’t always obvious and can be confused with other conditions. The good news is that prostate cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer when caught early. Learn the signs and schedule a screening

Photo credit: Freedom Boat Club of Michiana

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