A charismatic man in his prime, Petr Horáček is clearly someone who enjoys life. Which makes it all the more surprising when this vital individual openly admits that he beat prostate cancer. Peter enjoys boasting about his sports accomplishments, his physical condition and bold plans for the future. He also says that the life he leads today is due in no small part to the modern treatment method of proton therapy.
This director, scriptwriter, moderator, musician, golf promoter and passionate golfer claims that after treatment and radiation therapy at the Proton Therapy Center in Prague he is back to full strength and with the drive to continue everything he had been doing before his diagnosis.
• When did you learn you had prostate cancer?
It was not quite three years ago, and at the time it was a serious shock that forced me to re-evaluate many things, begin to act quickly and above all make key decisions. At first I searched the Internet to learn what I could about prostate cancer and what my options were as a patient. I began to look at treatment possibilities, and I found a modern gentle method – proton therapy – and discovered that one of the most advanced proton centers, a facility that was even equipped with Czech scanning technology, was located right in Prague.
• What’s it like to decide for a treatment previously described as a novelty, an experiment, or an insufficiently tested method?
Each person must evaluate their own condition and options and then make the decision that is best for them. It was clear to me from the beginning that it is my life and that I am willing to take responsibility only when I agree that the given method is truly the best for me. I was convinced that proton therapy was the right choice. It is possible to find clinical studies and patient stories, and calling something that has been around since the middle of the last century new is also unusual. Yes, proton therapy has been given various labels, but today, three years after my treatment, the situation is completely different.
Treatment in the Czech Republic is embedded in law in agreement with international recommendations by companies firms such as ASTRO and is paid by Czech health insurance companies.
• What exactly did treatment entail?
First I had to undergo a predatory stage involving six months of hormone injections. These were followed by 21 radiation treatments, during which I also received one more hormone injection. Nevertheless, I didn’t experience any changes or processes that impacted my life – no restrictions, pain or complications.
• What feelings did you experience during the treatment?
Mainly relief. Relief that I had found a way to save my life and, moreover, without it being apparent to anyone. I didn’t talk about my diagnosis, so many people had no idea I was undergoing cancer treatment.
• What was the worst thing about the treatment?
Nothing horrible actually happened. The treatment is not painful. Sometimes I was a little tired and had hot flashes, and I wasn’t very interested in sex. But everything was fine after treatment.
• How do you feel now two years after treatment?
I can say that after two years my physical condition is back to where it was before treatment and I feel absolutely normal in every other way. I know that doctors usually wait until five years after treatment to evaluate its success, but I already feel it was successful, and if I found myself again in a similar situation, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to take the same path. The results are exactly what I expected!
• But isn’t that just the typical enthusiasm of a patient who is relieved?
Not at all. I have the opportunity in my family to compare ‘classic’ or ‘standard’ treatment, i.e. an operation, with photon treatment, and there is a huge difference. With respect to quality of life, I can say that I am truly living, whereas my brother is merely surviving. And that is sufficient evidence for me that I was lucky and made the right choice.
• Besides your health, naturally, what else did proton therapy give you?
I make my living by standing on the stage, in front of the camera and the very critical eyes of the public, and I am not restricted in any way; I can perform my work to the full and enjoy the success that I have. I also love golf and I can continue to enjoy playing without worrying about changing diapers, incontinence, fatigue that forces you off the course, without feeling inferior and other similar frustrating situations.
I am not saying that golf cannot be played with these restrictions, but I don’t have them and I can enjoy my passion for the sport and the beautiful natural settings again, only now with humility and gratitude that I made the right decision at the beginning of treatment. I would like to tell everyone that proton treatment was the great hole-in-one of my life!