UAB’s Proton International therapy center celebrates its 500th patient

Anthony Natale shares his unforgettable experience with the Proton International staff and joy for being its 500th patient. 

Proton InternationalPatient standing in front of balloons that spell out 500. Anthony Natale shares his unforgettable experience with the Proton International staff and joy for being its 500th patient.  at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the first proton therapy center in Alabama, treated and is celebrating its 500th patient. The center, a partnership between Proton International and UAB, performed its first treatment March 11, 2020. It is one of only 38 proton therapy centers in the United States. 

The 500th patient, 63-year-old Anthony Natale is a resident of Pensacola, Florida, and traveled to Birmingham for his treatments. Natale was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma on the lingual tonsil with one lymph node affected.  

“I really had no idea how many patients the UAB Proton Center had treated until I was notified of this accomplishment,” Natale said. “I feel very lucky to have been offered treatment at the Proton Center. Being the 500th patient! Wow! Feels great!” 

Natale says UAB has given him an opportunity to overcome his disease. The experience the team provided was extremely comfortable and made it easier for him to continue with persistence in the face of great difficulty. 

“They made me feel loved like no other medical facility I had ever been to,” Natale said. 

Through overcoming his disease, Natale wants to pass advice to others who are going through or about to go through a similar journey.

“I believe you have been given an opportunity that can be very difficult to come by,” Natale said. “That said, you will still have some difficulties during treatment. Stay focused on a positive outcome and you will be OK.” 

“The team at the center are top-notch in their field,” Natale said. “Their interest in the job is to help you become successful in resolving your issue. Listen to your doctor. Trust them. And be a good patient. They truly care about you and want nothing more than your success. That said, you must know that you personally play a huge role in your own success. You must fight what some people say is the hardest thing you ever had to overcome. Know that you can fight through this.” 

Patient and doctor standing in front of balloons that spell out 500Natale says that proton therapy is a good form of radiation therapy that patients are lucky to have access to. 

“It allows for the patient to suffer less from the side effects of receiving radiation for your disease,” Natale said. “This is unfortunately not always available to people because of many different factors. I feel that I was fortunate enough to have received it. The more I learned about it, the more I felt this way.” 

“We are thrilled that Proton International at UAB has treated their 500th patient,” said Chris Chandler, Proton International CEO. “The facility is the first and only proton center in Alabama, and we have now treated 500 patients who wouldn’t have had access to this life-changing technology without Proton International at UAB and its wonderful team.”

Proton International at UAB is on 20th Street South between Fourth and Fifth avenues. The facility consists of a three-story building that houses clinical exam rooms, offices and the ProBeam proton therapy system, manufactured by Varian Medical Systems, a longtime partner with UAB in the delivery of radiation therapy. The medical staff, including radiation oncologists, medical physicists, dosimetrists, radiation therapy technologists and nurses, is exclusively from UAB.