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From Prostate Cancer Diagnosis to Men’s Health Advocate.

Lamont Mitchell has long been a champion of health and wellness in his community. A lifelong resident of Washington, DC and the founder of the Imani Café, a restaurant in the historic neighborhood of Anacostia, Lamont serves as the Chair of the Anacostia Coordinating Council and is a board member of Martha’s Table, an organization that brings quality education and health services to those in need. Last year, when Lamont was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he championed the greatest cause of his life: inspiring men to get regular screenings for prostate cancer and become their own best health advocates.

A Surprising Diagnosis

Lamont’s journey with prostate cancer began in April 2023 when he went for his annual physical exam and routine bloodwork that included the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test. “My doctor went through my test results and said, ‘I have something I want to talk with you about,’” says Lamont.  “She told me my PSA was 28 (normal level is less than four), a really high number, and said it may mean I have prostate cancer.”

 

Lamont was shocked at the news. “I was like, Wow! How did I go from thinking I’m living my best life to being on the verge of receiving a diagnosis of a catastrophic illness? It was a real gut punch,” he says. “Then, from that day forward, something miraculous happened. I immersed myself in information about prostate cancer, reading for three hours every day, learning all I could, and doing all I could do.”

 

At his doctor’s suggestion, Lamont went to see a urologist in Washington, DC, who ordered an MRI and a biopsy. As a result of these tests, Lamont’s prostate cancer was given a Gleason score of 9, which indicates the cancer was highly aggressive, and was classified as Stage 3A. The urologist told Lamont that he should start medication treatment right away and should undergo immediate surgery.

 

“I told the urologist, ‘Slow down! Don’t rush me!’” says Lamont. “’I hear what you’re saying, but let me get some other opinions!’ In the meantime, I did more reading on the importance of seeking second opinions and the latest treatments for this type of cancer.”

 

Through his research, Lamont discovered Dr. Daniel Gorovets, a radiation oncologist at the New York Proton Center (NYPC) and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), who specializes in prostate cancer and was leading a clinical trial that explored whether a shorter course of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), a type of hormone, in combination with radiation (hypofractionated pelvic radiation and brachytherapy) works in treating high-risk prostate cancer.

 

Lamont, who had read about ADT in his research, was concerned about its long-term side effects and impact on his quality of life. He liked the idea of a shorter course of ADT and decided to seek a second opinion from Dr. Gorovets.

A New Treatment Plan Includes Proton Therapy

At MSK, Dr. Gorovets and a team of prostate cancer specialists performed additional tests and downgraded Lamont’s Gleason score to 7.  Dr. Gorovets developed a treatment plan that consisted of six months of ADT, one session of brachytherapy, and an innovative type of radiation therapy called 5-fraction stereotactic body (SBRT) proton therapy.

 

“Treating prostate cancer requires a personalized approach because each patient’s situation is unique,” says Dr. Gorovets. “Multiple factors influence management decisions. For Lamont, I considered the aggressiveness and extent of his cancer, as well as his personal values to derive a treatment program that I felt would maximize our chances of curing him while also minimizing the impact the treatment would have on his quality of life. Brachytherapy and proton therapy are my best tools to focus radiation therapy and minimize exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. I believed that he would benefit from some hormone therapy, but extending his course of hormone therapy beyond 6 months would contribute more to his side effects than his cure.”

 

Proton therapy is a highly advanced form of radiation therapy that uses protons instead of conventional X-rays to target and destroy cancer cells. Protons have unique physical properties that allow them to deposit most of their energy precisely at the tumor site, sparing healthy tissues surrounding the tumor. This precision is especially crucial in prostate cancer treatment due to the prostate gland’s proximity to vital organs like the bladder, bowel, and rectum.

 

Five-fraction SBRT proton therapy delivers a higher dose of proton therapy per treatment session over just five days, with sessions typically occurring every other day. This accelerated treatment schedule significantly reduces the overall treatment duration compared to standard radiation therapy delivered over five to nine weeks. The convenience of the accelerated treatment schedule enables patients to complete therapy more efficiently, reducing their time commitment without compromising outcomes.

 

“The idea of completing a shorter course of radiation treatment was really appealing to me,” says Lamont. “I have a very busy schedule and I didn’t want to put my life and my community leadership activities on hold for a month and a half.”

 

Following brachytherapy at MSK in early 2024, Lamont began 5-fraction SRBT proton therapy at the NPYC. The entire course was completed over two weeks in February. “I had a wonderful experience at the New York Proton Center,” says Lamont. “The facility is amazing, and the staff was absolutely wonderful. Everyone I encountered at the proton center, from the person who sits at the reception desk to the doctors and nurses, was a consummate professional and so very compassionate and kind. And I am so grateful to social worker Mark Eala, who helped me find lodging at the Hope Lodge, which is run by the American Cancer Society.”

 

While in Manhattan, Lamont soaked up the culture and sights of the city. “It was an unforgettable experience,” he says.  “I saw three Broadway plays, one concert and a comedy show. My kids came up to spend the time with me. Each proton therapy session took only 15 minutes, so my treatment hardly got in the way of having a good time.”

Paying it Forward by Promoting Early Detection

As a result of his experience, Lamont is dedicating his time to raising awareness about the importance of education and early detection for prostate cancer. He is the founder KnowYourNumbersDC, a men’s health program that encourages African American men to get tested for major diseases such as prostate cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

 

“My advice to men is to know your numbers so you can make an informed decision,” says Lamont. “To be your own best advocate for your healthcare, you first have to become knowledgeable about your disease. Your doctor may know a lot about it, but you also have to have this knowledge so you can become a full partner with your doctor in your treatment. If you don’t know your numbers, you won’t know what you’re working with. You may not even know there are other treatment options available, which is why it is so important to get a second or even a third opinion.”

 

Following his treatment, Lamont is beating the cancer. In June, he took a PSA test which showed that his total PSA has already dropped from 28 to 0.6.

 

“I am doing well, and I owe it to the incredible support and guidance of Dr. Gorovets and the team at MSK and the New York Proton Center,” says Lamont.

Learn more about proton therapy for prostate cancer
“The idea of completing a shorter course of radiation treatment was really appealing to me. I have a very busy schedule and I didn’t want to put my life and my community leadership activities on hold for a month and a half.”
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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.