As a regular cruise ship lecturer—discussing ocean appropriate topics such as whales, sharks, and pirates—Sabin Robbins, 75, had always enjoyed the experience of sharing his expertise on wildlife. But aboard a cruise ship bound for the waters of Alaska in 2008 his experience was markedly different. Shortly before the trip, Sabin had learned that he had prostate cancer.
"My children were after me for years to get a physical," said Sabin, who lives in Highland Beach, Florida. "I kept putting off their advice, because the way I saw it, I was swimming 70 laps in the pool each day, and I hadn't been to a doctor in over ten years. I finally relented to their advice." His doctor performed a PSA test to determine whether his prostate was enlarged. A high PSA led doctors to find that Sabin had prostate cancer. His doctors recommended a course of radiation therapy treatments -- five days a week for eight and a half weeks.
At the beginning of his treatments, Sabin’s doctor told him about a new treatment approach that had the potential to deliver each of Sabin's daily treatments in less than two minutes—treatments that would have taken 10-15 minutes each day. This technology delivers an image-guided treatment to the tumor during a single revolution of the treatment machine around the patient.
"Aboard the cruise ship to Alaska I spent most of my time reading everything that I could about prostate cancer. I admit that it was frightening to me," Sabin said. "Once all my questions were answered and I learned that the survival rate for prostate cancer is very good, I felt much more relaxed. The radiotherapy treatments were fast; my experience was as good, considering I was fighting cancer.
During each of his daily treatments, and every day after, Sabin has kept up with his daily swimming regimen in his condominium swimming pool. The next time that he lectures aboard a cruise ship, he expects to be much more relaxed.
Varian would like to thank for Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boyton Beach, FL for their assistance in the preparation of this story.