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Patient Keeps Running Competitively During Prostate Cancer Treatment

June 14, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —When Marion Conley, 51, came to Jacksonville to undergo prostate cancer treatment he set a goal to compete in six races during his eight-week proton therapy treatment schedule. Conley exercises regularly and his goals to compete in races keep him motivated to stay fit and active. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2012.

Following his first day of treatment in Jacksonville he put on his running shoes and ran from his temporary home in Springfield to the downtown Jacksonville riverwalk. His path included the steep inclines of the Main Street and Acosta bridges. Conley says he’s always exercised and he wasn’t going to let cancer slow him down.

Conley and his wife Dana Marie chose proton therapy over surgery to treat his prostate cancer because proton therapy allowed him to continue to exercise. Proton therapy is a unique form of radiation therapy that targets tumors and reduces risk of treatment side effects. Proton therapy is shown to be an effective treatment for prostate cancer with patients reporting excellent quality of life during and following treatment. The University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute is the only proton therapy facility in the Southeast.

Shortly after Conley’s diagnosis, he achieved two of his best personal records during competitive runs. It was like the cancer motivated him to go faster and be stronger he said. “Hey, I’ve got cancer, look how far I’ve come,” Conley continued.

Conley keeps a spreadsheet of his races, times and placements. He is more than halfway to completing treatment and his goal to compete in six races during it. He competed in the San Pablo Elementary 5K on May 12, finishing 3rd overall; he competed in the IMG Academies 5K on May 26, a Bradenton race while visiting family, finishing first in his age group and 16th overall; on June 2, he competed in the Hale & Hearty 7K in Jacksonville, finishing 36th overall and 2nd in his age group; and on June 9, he finished first in his age group and 33rd overall in the Never Quit 5K in Jacksonville Beach. He plans to compete in two upcoming Jacksonville races, Run for the Pies 5K, June 16, and the rescheduled Memorial Day 5K on June 23.

Conley was introduced to the UF Proton Therapy Institute during a presentation led by Dr. R. Charles Nichols, Jr. in Conley’s hometown of Panama City Beach. Coincidentally, Dr. Nichols is from Panama City Beach and Conley and his wife immediately felt at ease with him. Conley was also given the opportunity to speak with former and current patients and says the sense of family and community were also factors in choosing the Jacksonville facility for treatment.

UF Proton Therapy Institute is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization affiliated with the UF College of Medicine, dedicated to delivering state-of-the-art cancer treatment and setting new standards for treating and curing cancer. The cancer treatment facility houses both conventional radiation and proton therapy, and delivers proton therapy to 110 patients a day. For more information about the UF Proton Therapy Institute, please visit, or call toll-free 877-686-6009.