HOUSTON – It was a cancer diagnosis that hit close to home for the KPRC2 family.
Chief meteorologist Frank Billingsley was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year.
He kept all of us informed every step of the way with his treatments.
On Friday, we have good news about Billingsley’s prognosis and how his treatment journey will help many other men.
Prostate cancer affects one in nine men. When it happened to Billingsley, no one knew how bad it was.
"All of this is public for me, to make sure men and women stay on top of their health. And men are so bad about it. They need to stay healthy, they need to get checkups, need to get PSA tested," Billingsley said.
While many men can opt for surveillance, meaning you don't do anything but watch for changes, Billingsley never had that option.
A tumor was found covering about a third of his prostate. He knew he had to do something. Billingsley chose a clinical trial for his treatment.
"I was lucky that I was able to be a candidate, I was lucky it was there and I am lucky, so far, that it has worked," Billingsley said.
He was treated with gold nanoparticles, an invention by Rice University’s Dr. Naomi Halas.
Here's how it works:
The gold nanoparticles travel through the heart, pump to other parts of the body and attach to the cancer. Then they're heated and destroyed.
Dr. Steven Canfield said in Billingsley, and in all the patients they've been monitoring, the treatment worked
"We're learning a lot from every patient, we certainly learned a lot from him," Canfield said. "He had the biggest area treated of anyone so far. There was a big area of tumor, that whole area looks treated and gone essentially. The prostate has shrunk down from that process and his PSA is the most remarkable. He had a high PSA starting out and it has come down to practically zero which is almost unheard of."
Canfield says Billingsley's tumor was twice as big as most of the tumors they treat, and now, there's no signs of it.
"My PSA that triggered all of this was a 25. After this procedure, it's dropped to a 0.1. In fact, they made me take that test over again because they didn't believe it," Billingsley said.
Now the question is: Will it ever come back?
"Every conversation about cancer ends with the words, 'let's hope.' So, let's hope it does not come back. Could it? Yes. The real telling point will be a year from the procedure, which will be November. I'll have another MRI and biopsy and hopefully that will come out cancer-free."