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a road leads to a radiation therapy bed

Traveling for Treatment

One of the biggest questions every cancer patient faces is where they should elect to receive care. The good news is that for most of us, we have options; sometimes so many that it can feel overwhelming. Patients can be treated at teaching hospitals, special cancer centers, big-city hospitals or the hospital closest to you in the community.

How far have you traveled?

With so many options comes the question of distance — how far are you willing to travel for treatment?

To find out, we asked the ProstrateCancer.net community to share their travel log. More than 50 of you reacted to the story, and of those of you who weighed in, here’s what you had to say.

Counting on community hospitals

Especially if you don’t anticipate needing surgery, a local, community hospital is a great option. It is often a much more intimate experience, which provides patients with a different kind of confidence. Personal connections engender positive feelings, which can be hugely instrumental in keeping someone’s hopefulness and spirits up when it comes to healing and recovery.

“I travel 11 miles each way, walked in, say hello to the receptionist and have a seat.”

“I travel 11 miles each way, walk in, say hello to the receptionist and have a seat, and within 1 minute they call me to come in for radiation therapy! So glad I went with my provider! Tomorrow is my 39th and last treatment!”

Staying local

Anyone who is able to find reliable, compassionate and results-driven care near his home is very fortunate. It’s a gift, certainly, to be able to drop in for treatment. Plus, one bonus of being treated closer to home is that it’s easier to ask a friend or loved one to join you for the appointment.

“I did mine local.”

“Just 20 minutes to and from Penn State Hershey Medical. I’ve been very fortunate.”

“It was 20 miles one way to Bloomington, Indiana.”

“I did mine local in Cincinnati.”

Heading into bigger cities

If you live a small community, it’s almost a certainty that you will travel for treatment. Also, some patients feel more comfortable choosing care at hospitals and cancer centers that have more of a proven track record. There are several upsides to this. Doctors in most major hospitals and cancer centers have far more experience performing most major procedures and may have more access to new trials.

“Going to big cities for daily radiation…”

“I believe in teaching center hospitals for major procedures, and went to the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) in Philadelphia, a 120-mile round trip, for my prostatectomy, and, counting setups, 41 radiation treatments. The results for each couldn’t have been better (5 months and 10 days after my first heart surgery, I did a 100-mile bicycle ride). A secret to going to big cities for daily radiation is to get the earliest possible appointments (I arrived at 6-6:15 AM each day) to avoid rush hour traffic.”

“I traveled 85 miles each way to Rockford, Illinois. I like the urologist there better than in my immediate area.”

Adding up the miles

There’s no price tag or mile limit that can be placed on exceptional care. For some folks, finding good doctors in town is easy, perhaps because of their choice of hometowns or the reputation of their local doctors. For others, the outlooks appear brighter with expert doctors that may be far from home. Those who can spare the time and expense should certainly consider seeing doctors in another state or even across the country. Because if they come highly recommended by a friend or doctor review, then why not set yourself up with someone who inspires your every confidence?

“I fly 1,500 miles once a month to see my doctor.”

“My son traveled from Louisiana to the Mayo Clinic that’s in Rochester, Minnesota! Worth every mile!”

Finding the care best for you

At the end of the day, distances, whether short or long, don’t matter. What counts is that you receive the care that you determine best fits your needs.

“I really don’t remember. I didn’t count the miles. I was excited about being treated, but I do remember that it took longer to get there and back than my actual radiation treatment.”

Everyone’s approach to treatment is different. How far did you travel for your treatment?

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