ProtonPals Lead Coordinator, Fred Duncan

Fred and Judy Duncan

As the lead coordinators for ProtonPals, Fred and his wife, Judy, organize weekly dinners and lunches for those receiving treatment at the Proton Therapy Center. Many have become friends and remain in touch with other new patients even after their treatment. Fred and Judy keep the group going strong after it was founded by former patients years ago.

Fred’s diagnosis and path to treatment

A routine annual visit to his doctor in 2012 led a then 64-year-old Fred Duncan to discover he had an elevated PSA. He was referred to a local urologist for further examination. After undergoing exams, he was diagnosed with low-grade prostate cancer. Thereafter, a local prostate support group in Houston suggested he visit The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for further analysis. After discussing his treatment options with MD Anderson, Fred chose to go on Active Surveillance for prostate cancer that consisted of quarterly check-ups to monitor his cancer.

Four years later, his prostate cancer was upgraded to intermediate prostate cancer, he then chose to treat his cancer in late 2016. After extensive research on his medical condition, Fred chose proton therapy treatment because of its ability to precisely target the tumor in his prostate and destroy cancer cells without harming surrounding healthy tissue and organs.

Early detection is key

Fred was encouraged to learn that with early detection, prostate cancer has a five-year survival rate of nearly 99 percent. Additionally, Fred consulted with other proton therapy patients who had successful outcomes. Fred then decided that proton therapy would bring the same success rates or better as the other alternative treatments. Furthermore, proton therapy would have minimal side effects on him and his everyday life. As a result, he was able to continue his daily work in his real estate profession throughout the entire treatment process.

Over the course of eight weeks, Fred completed 39 treatments at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center. During treatment, Fred met many of the other patients and became involved with ProtonPals, the MD Anderson patient support and outreach group. Fred and his wife, Judy, took an active role helping others undergoing treatment.

Paying it forward

“We are glad to help others in their successful journey with their treatment and healing,” Fred said. “After their treatment is completed, we all celebrate them as one of our graduates.” By having this support system, those undergoing and completing treatment have a way to stay connected through their journey and be an encouragement to the newly diagnosed. Hearing personal experiences from those that have been there and sharing similar experiences to discuss proton treatment ease the anxieties and stressors that go along with cancer treatment. Forming friends that last a lifetime is part of what makes the ProtonPals group so special to so many.

Today, Fred and his wife Judy continue to hike, walk, hunt, fly fish, do field trials and train with their Labrador. Besides traveling the state of Texas, another one of their favorite past times is spending time in their Hill Country home where they continuously work to upgrade their property.