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home : community : business May 24, 2016

7/26/2013 5:19:00 PM
Former teacher remembers successful cancer treatment
Fay and Will Coats (on the right) share a family moment with their daughter Jodi Warren (left). Will has been cancer-free for two years. Submitted photo.
Fay and Will Coats (on the right) share a family moment with their daughter Jodi Warren (left). Will has been cancer-free for two years. Submitted photo.
Erik Pague

In 2006, Othello's Will Coats heard his doctor's diagnosis telling him he had a slow growing prostate cancer. He was 70 years old at the time and doctors gave him the choice to attack it head on with radiation treatments or since it was developing so slowly, he could have chosen to take a wait-and-see approach. Coats has six siblings older than he is, leading his doctors to assume he would be able to lead a long life as well, so he decided to waste little time in starting his treatment.
The choice has paid off greatly. Coats has been cancer free for two years now and said it's great knowing he won't have to deal with it any longer.
"I could have probably done nothing and still been just like I am today," he said. "But, it's still a relief to know that bug is gone and you don't have to worry about it anymore."
During a routine visit to his doctor seven years ago, a blood exam revealed that he had an unusually high level of PSAs or prostate-specific antigens. Coats said, at first, Dr. Bunch wasn't very concerned about the readings, but he and Coats decided to continue looking into it and he eventually consulted a specialist in Tri-Cities named Dr. Dever.
"He confirmed that it was prostate cancer and then he gave me a list of options of what we could do," Coats said. "He said 'maybe, we should think about treatment because it looks like you come from a family with a lot of longevity,' so we decided to do that."
Coats spent the next six months driving to the Tri-Cities three times a week for radiation treatments. In terms of physical effects, the 42 treatments didn't bother him much. His doctor kept a close watch of Coats' PSA levels to make sure they were falling.
"We just kept track of the numbers and they just kept going down and down," Coats said. "A couple of years ago, Dr. Dever gave me the all clear after it had been five years with no change in the numbers."
Other than the time-consuming treatment sessions, the main changes Coats had to make consisted of watching his diet and eating healthy.
"The actual radiation treatments didn't take very long, but I was probably at the doctor's office for about an hour just getting ready," Coats said. "It didn't affect me in any way as far as physical well-
being, it was just a time thing more than anything else. I did everything I normally would have done except sleep late."
Coats was previously a teacher, speech therapist and a travel agent. He's retired now but volunteers with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Othello Police Department. His wife Fay is a big supporter of the yearly Relay for Life and he plans to lend a hand with that, also. His son was also a researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, but Coats said he was recently laid off due to budget cuts.
"Sequestration caught up with him and as of the first of this month, he's not there anymore," he said.
When asked to give advice for other cancer patients, Coats said they should always listen to their doctor and not be afraid to ask for help from family and friends as they fight their way through it.

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