As someone who spent an entire career explaining sensitive and sometimes complicated information to the American public, clear communication has always been important to Marlin Fitzwater. The 69-year-old Deale resident spent a decade as the White House press secretary under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
It is not surprising, then, that when talking about his cancer treatment, he said, “next to a smiling face, a good explanation is crucial to overcoming the fear.”
Last year, Marlin learned that the cancer for which he had undergone a radical prostatectomy in 1997 had returned. He was afraid, and unsure of his options. But, he sought out the most advanced medical treatment in an environment that made him feel comfortable and eased his fears.
“I have at least three hospitals that are within 35 to 40 miles of my home,” he said, adding that he had hoped to find what he was looking for at AAMC.
“I wanted a hospital that was local, that was mine, that I could get to regularly, and where I knew the area and knew the people,” he said.
After visiting a variety of hospitals, Marlin was pleased to learn about the DeCesaris Cancer Institute and that it could offer him a state-of-the-art, non-invasive procedure to treat his prostate cancer.
“They helped me overcome my fears right off the bat,” he said, “They took time to explain things in ways I could understand.”
Marlin recalls asking his doctor how the radiation treatment worked. He said his doctor took out a pen and began to draw an illustration showing him where the cancer was and how Novallis TX radiosurgery would deliver highly precise radiation treatments, targeting only the cancer cells and leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact.
“I walked away and I thought, this is really terrific, they explained to me exactly how this stuff works.”
According to Marlin, how it worked was simple from a patient perspective. His daily treatments lasted a mere 15 minutes or so. There was no pain, and the open nature of the equipment alleviated his concerns about claustrophobia.
He said the best part, of course, was learning that the cancer was gone. Within a few months of his treatment, Marlin was heading out for his annual winter trip to Florida and making plans for the publication of his latest book, a collection of short stories.
“You are always telling yourself, this works, and I hope it works, but seeing that it works, is a great kind of relief.”