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Brachytherapy helps pilot stay active during prostate cancer treatment

Prostate cancer patient Pat Carden

As a lead helicopter pilot for a critical care ambulance service serving southeast Kansas, Pat Carden’s job was saving lives. Pat, 61, who retired from Joplin, Mo.-based MedFlight in April, played a critical role when seconds meant the difference between life and death. 

But last year he found out was the one in need of medical care when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“When I first found out that I had cancer, I was in kind of a shock,” Pat says. “It is really fear of the unknown. As I progressed, I learned that prostate cancer, if detected early, has a high cure rate.”

After careful research, Pat decided his best treatment option was brachytherapy, also known as internal radiation. Brachytherapy is a procedure that involves radioactive seed implants to fight a tumor.

“I decided to do seed implantation because of its success rate,” says Pat, of his desire for positive long-term results that would enable him to keep flying and help others. “I didn't have to miss any work.  I was told that 25 percent of people who have seed implantation feel virtually no pain afterward.  I was lucky that I was one of these patients.”

Pat’s treatment was administered by Duane Myers, MD, at the Via Christi Cancer Center at the hospital in Pittsburg. Dr. Myers is the area’s resident expert in brachytherapy treatment.

“The advantages of brachytherapy for treating certain types of cancer are immeasurable,” Dr. Myers says. “Pat is a great example of how this treatment allows people to stay extremely active while fighting the disease. He was a great patient to work with and now a true advocate of brachytherapy.”

Says Pat of the Cancer Center staff and his caregivers, “I cannot brag enough on this group of people. Dr. Myers and his nurse Lori Mays are two of the finest people that I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  I know they are always there for me.”

Pat didn’t let cancer stall his career or outlook. He was recently named a Health Care Hero award winner by a four-state publication for his work in the cockpit. And better yet, each PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test result he has had since undergoing brachytherapy shows his treatment worked.


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