“The Neuropathic Therapy Center at Loma Linda allows me to live my life.”
For Mark Knowlton, age 61, those words are no exaggeration. Mark walks, drives, does yard work, and plays with his grandkids. In the past year, he has been downhill skiing on a top-tier slope, gone boating, off-roading and fishing, and visited the Grand Canyon.
He has done all of this despite severe neuropathy (nerve pain), tingling, and numbness in his hands, feet, and lower leg. Four years ago, the former college football quarterback was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Since then, he has remained active despite the accompanying side effects of close to 100 chemotherapy treatments to keep the cancer in check.
Mark gives credit to Loma Linda’s Neuropathic Therapy Center where he was among the first cancer patients to receive a breakthrough physical therapy treatment called Intraneural Facilitation (INF). Developed at the Neuropathic Therapy Center, the treatment involves applying pressure to affected areas to improve blood flow.
“The therapists touch or squeeze my toes, feet, and hands, or place bands around my wrists to help move blood through my system,” Mark says. “Some days, I come up on the elevator for my treatment feeling slow, tired, and weak. I throw myself on the table and say ‘Help me.’”
An hour-long session serves to lessen the pain in areas where Mark feels the most excruciating discomfort.
“Miraculously, by the end of the treatment, I stand taller and feel re-energized. When I leave, I bounce down the steps,” he notes. “I’d probably be living on my couch if I didn’t have this treatment. With this, I can do things. It gives me a quality of life.”
Mark, who continues to receive chemotherapy every other week, comes for INF sessions five days a week to offset the effects of his chemo.
What he most values, he says, is the ability to travel and see his three sons and his seven grandkids. He stays in touch with his 13 siblings scattered across the country via Zoom. Mark also looks forward to vacationing with friends.
He is grateful to the therapists and other staff members at the Neuropathic Therapy Center who make all of this possible: “The therapists and staff treat me with respect, dignity and compassion. They’re a big part of my life, and they treat me like family. Over three years, we’ve gotten to know each other. And they have given me a quality of life I can’t put into words.”