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A Weapon for the War Against Cancer

Posted on June 16, 2021 in Oncology

James Miller, Radiation Therapy Patient
James Miller credits his “great expectations” for recovery to both his faith and his care team at Thompson Cancer Survival Center at Methodist.

New Linear Accelerator Adds to Treatment Arsenal at Thompson Cancer Survival Center

In a quiet corner of Thompson Cancer Survival Center at Methodist Medical Center, a man sits with an open Bible, intently focused on the words. He is James Miller, a cancer patient who is looking for hope in a hard season of life.

“Whatever the Lord’s will for me is,” Miller says, “that’s gonna be what comes about.” Miller is a man of faith who also has an appreciation for science. Diagnosed in February 2021, Miller was devastated to learn he had prostate cancer. But a new linear accelerator at Thompson that delivers targeted radiation more effectively than ever before represents a beacon of hope.

The new linear accelerator features advanced robotic positioning that rotates the patient in six dimensions, improving the ability to target the cancer. Miller’s physician recommended he seek care at Methodist Medical Center. Miller was a patient at Methodist in the past, and knew he would receive the care he needed at the hospital’s cancer treatment facility.

“The staff here, I just can’t say enough about them,” Miller says. “They have made a stressful situation a lot more pleasant. I’m encouraged that they have the new technology and that I’m getting to be a participant in that.”

Shane West, senior medical physicist at Thompson, says radiation therapy involves a group of well-trained individuals working together to put the needs of the patient first.

James Miller Discusses New Linear Accelerator
James Miller discusses his treatment plan with Crystal Robinson, the center’s manager of radiation oncology, and Shane West, senior medical physicist.

“It’s definitely a team approach,” West says. “I’m guessing every patient interacts with as many as 10 of us.” Miller is brought into a peaceful and darkened room where the linear accelerator towers like a kind and quiet giant. Registered radiation therapists accurately position Miller on the treatment table then the table is set in place for the radiation therapy.

“It’s a machine that doesn’t touch your body, but it rotates around your body to put the beam in the position it needs to be in,” Miller explains. “To me that’s a good thing. There’s no pain to it at all.”

Miller laughs when he recalls his first treatment. When it was over he wasn’t sure it had worked because he hadn’t felt any sort of pain or discomfort.

“I asked them, ‘Did you do anything?’” he says. In a room nearby, images appear on a set of monitors as the radiation therapists both oversee and monitor the treatment. The process is relatively brief and soon Miller is back in the lobby, ready to rejoin his wife and get back to life outside the cancer center. With treatment from the new linear accelerator at Thompson Cancer Survival Center in addition to hormone therapy, Miller feels more confident about his chances for full recovery and his future holds new promise.

As a father, a grandfather and a great- grandfather, he has a lot to live for. “It’s encouraging that we have this kind of technology this close to home,” Miller says. “I have high hopes for getting past this bad situation.” Miller continues to worship with a congregation in Spring City, sometimes sharing his faith through music. “There is a song that says, ‘I am thine, oh Lord, I have heard thy voice and it told thy love to me,’ and that’s been a real help to me,” Miller says. “I belong to Him and He knows what’s going on with me and He’s okay with that or it wouldn’t be happening to me, I’m sure.”

His favorite chapter of the Bible is Psalm 91, considered a prayer of protection. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” Miller quotes from memory. “That’s real strength to me. There’s a place where we can stay close enough to the Lord that we receive His protection and His guidance.”

Miller is grateful for being guided to Thompson Cancer Survival Center at Methodist Medical Center. It’s a place where he’s finding help to face cancer and hope for better days ahead. For more information about the linear accelerator and other treatment options for Thompson Cancer Survival Center at Methodist Medical Center, visit or call (865) 835-5400.