For Earl Malpass, cancer treatment at Provision Center for Proton Therapy was something of a vacation
The pastor and mission pilot has lived in Alaska for 15 years, the past three of which he has spent in Manley Hot Springs where he and his wife, Lynn, live without running water through the long arctic winters.
“We go through 11-15 cords of wood in the winter,” Malpass says. “We just got electricity, and life has gotten a little easier.”
The communities he serves as pilot and director of Mission Air Care, a ministry of Baptist Missions to Forgotten Peoples based out of Jacksonville, Fla., are even more remote. The purpose of the ministry is to fly mission supplies to village outposts unreachable by roads.
Initially, the Malpasses lived in Fairbanks but relocated to Manley Hot Springs, selling their house and buying a partially-built cabin, to support the start of a new church there.
Malpass discovered he had prostate cancer when his PSA rose sharply, and he traveled to the lower 48 to seek medical care. He consulted a couple of cancer treatment centers, including one with proton therapy capabilities—but poor customer service, he says— before discovering Provision.
One doctor at a reputable center called proton therapy “experimental,” he says, whereupon Malpass produced an article from a reputable journal—supplied by Dr. Marcio Fagundes—to refute the assertion. A radiation oncologist, upon finding out his insurance covered the treatment, agreed it sounded like the best route in his case.
“He said, ‘Your insurance covers it? I think you’ve got your answer,’” Malpass says.
Although initially “scared I was making the wrong decision,” he says the experience at Provision “converted” him.
“It’s been first-class,” he says. “We have been treated like royalty.”
Accompanied by his son, Jeremiah and wife, the family has enjoyed trips to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Pigeon Forge—and his wife has not minded her hotel stay after life in an Alaskan outpost. Still, he says, they’ve been eager to travel the 4500 miles back to their work.
“Before we left, we started projects at home,” he says. “We’re looking forward to getting back.”
Malpass said his treatment has made him think about the ripple effect of Provision’s medical treatment and “Culture of Care.”
“They’re helping me. They’re also having an impact on my wife and son, and the families there in Manley Hot Springs,” he says. “They’re having an impact far greater that you can imagine.”
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