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With a career on the line, Gil made his choice

Across his seven decades as a professional musician, Gil Chimes had done it all: Sung in bands, performed on Broadway, written commercial jingles, even played harmonica on Tony Orlando’s mega #1 hit, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.”

Then in 2019, at the age of 77, Gil received the diagnosis: a three-centimeter lesion on his lung. Because it was too close to his heart for a biopsy, his medical oncologist and thoracic surgeon recommended a resection. But losing more than half of his left lung would have meant permanently “giving up the mic”—a trade-off Gil simply wasn’t willing to make.

And thanks to the New York Proton Center, he didn’t have to.

The top doctor personally reaches out

The first indication of a problem came during a routine physical, when his primary care doctor detected that Gil was breathing irregularly. She referred him for imaging which revealed his lung cancer.


As he weighed his treatment options, Gil was reminded of a local news story he’d recently seen about the newly opened New York Proton Center in Manhattan. So he phoned and left a message for its Chief Medical Officer and internationally renowned lung cancer expert, Dr. Charles Simone—expecting the receptionist would call back a few days later to set up an appointment. But in fact, the call came that very night.


From Dr. Simone, himself.


“That was so impressive. My original surgeon had spent a grand total of about 10 minutes with me, then sent me on my way. But here was Dr. Simone, the head of the whole center, personally calling me at home. Completely unheard of.”

“This place is the best kept secret in the world. You’ve got to get the word out. They're saving people, they're curing people. It’s beyond phenomenal.”

A pervading optimism

What struck Gil from the moment he arrived at the NYPC was that every interaction—with the front desk personnel, with the nursing staff, with Dr. Simone himself—was, in his words, “amazing from A to Z.” Even the other patients he encountered were noticeably upbeat, hardly characteristic of people facing a cancer diagnosis.


“Normally, when you sit in an oncologist’s office, everyone is getting bad news. It’s heartbreaking. But over at New York Proton Center, everybody’s happy and feeling great.”


Gil’s proton therapy lasted just one week. Other than the discomfort of lying on the hard treatment table—during which, per his request, they piped in Frank Sinatra music—the sessions were painless and the side-effects nonexistent. In fact, the disruption was so minimal that he actually continued performing on stage during his treatment.


Although Gil is enormously grateful for the care he received at the New York Proton Center, it’s a gratitude tinged with regret. His sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer a year earlier, but by the time she learned about proton therapy, it was no longer an option. Her disease was too advanced.


“She went through a year of radiation and chemo. She got sick, lost her hair, the whole bit. It’s God’s blessing that I discovered this advanced treatment, because I suffered zero. I wish she could have too.”


Hear more from NYPC patients
Getting back to living. Meet Allen.
Finding strength from an unexpected diagnosis. Meet Tracy.
Head and neck cancer here and gone. Meet Joseph.

How can we help?

Want to find out if proton therapy might be a good fit for you or your patient? Call us at 833-NYPROTON (833-697-7686) or fill out the appropriate form below.