Just days after losing his house and nearly every possession in the Washington, Illinois tornado of 2013, Scott McLintock picked up a robe at a donation center. The logo and name on it -- CDH (Central DuPage Hospital) Proton Center -- didn't mean anything to McLintock at the time. Flash forward three years and that robe would be connected to McLintock's fight against cancer.
In the fall of 2016, McClintock was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His doctors recommended surgery and standard radiation, but McLintock wanted another option. He did some research online and found the Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center, located nearly 150 miles northwest of Washington in Warrenville, Illinois.
"I was only 50 years old at the time. I didn't want my prostate removed and I was concerned about the side effects of standard radiation," said McLintock. "Through my research, I learned proton therapy was less invasive and has fewer side effects, so I looked for the closest location offering it. That was the Chicago Proton Center."
Proton therapy uses protons -- heavy, positively charged atomic particles -- instead of the standard X-rays used in conventional radiation therapy. Protons deposit much of their energy, or dose, directly in the tumor and then stop, whereas conventional radiation continues to deposit the dose beyond the tumor.
When he made the appointment, McLintock didn't immediately make the connection to the robe. The Proton Center's name had been updated to Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center. However, while waiting in the lobby he saw the old logo and immediately called his wife to go look at the robe in his closet. Sure enough the logo matched. McLintock excitedly told the team at the front desk and they recalled boxing up the robes and specifically donating them to help victims of the Washington tornado.
"I don't know if I would call it a coincidence," said McClintock. "It was like I was destined to come to the Chicago Proton Center."
McLintock underwent six-weeks of daily proton therapy treatments. Due to the far distance from home, he was forced to take time off of work at a Washington-area car dealership and stay in a hotel.
"It was a sacrifice, but well worth it," said McLintock.
According to Vinai Gondi, MD, a radiation oncologist and director of research at the Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center, due to his age and stage of cancer, McLintock was a good candidate for proton therapy.
"Research shows proton therapy is advantageous for younger patients who we are most concerned about developing secondary cancers later in life," said Dr. Gondi. "With all of the offerings of our proton center, we are able to treat many types of tumors and cancers using the latest in advanced technology."
At his final proton therapy treatment in April, McLintock brought along his old robe. The staff surprised him and showed up wearing the robes too. It was as if the robe had come full circle.
"After losing nearly everything and living in a hotel with my wife, kids and extended family, that robe was a welcome piece of comfort," said McLintock. "Little did I know the robe would have a connection to my treatment for prostate cancer years later."
The Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center is the first and only proton therapy center in Illinois to bring innovative proton radiation treatment to patients. For more information visit chicagoprotoncenter.com.