Health & Wellness

Cancer Patient Says Tumor Shrunk with New TrueBeam at Morristown Medical Center

TrueBeam Ben Christener and Dr. Mona Karim

MORRISTOWN, NJ – The latest piece of high precision radiotherapy equipment to treat cancer at Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center, the TrueBeam system, went into service on May 8. Ben Christener, who has small cell lung cancer, was one of the first two patients to be treated.

Christener’s cancer was discovered after a CT Scan showed a mass in his chest. At the hospital, a lymph node biopsy came back negative but a biopsy of the mass during a bronchoscopy was positive.  “The mass was 9 cm by 5 cm and was growing and threatening to cut off the bronchus,” Christener said.

He began chemotherapy April 11, and was released five days later. His oncologist is Maithili Rao, MD. His radiation oncologist, Mona Karim MD, vice chair of radiation oncology at Morristown Medical Center, recommended he wait a week to begin radiotherapy treatment until the TrueBeam system was available.

Sign Up for E-News

Dr. Karim said “Surgery is not an option” for those with small cell lung cancer. The ideal “treatment would be a combination of chemo and radiation.” Radiation is “his curative intense treatment” and with the TrueBeam, “We are able to do better targeting and faster, more accurate treatments,” than before, she said.

TrueBeam delivers the radiation faster and the patient is not on the table as long, she said. The treatment lasts less than five minutes, as opposed to 10 to 20 minutes on other machines. There are no body molds or marking on the skin for targeting purposes, “Now we use body anatomy,” Dr. Karim said. It’s better for the patient because it’s more comfortable and the reproducibility of the position is better,” Dr. Karim said.

Dr. Karim said another advantage is the ability to adjust treatments because the machine takes a CT scan with every treatment.  

Christener said, “It is very rapid and I am very relaxed” and, that after his second treatment, “You could actually see my tumor had shrunk.”

According to Dr. Karim, the TrueBeam system has a wide range of capability from Intensity-modulated treatments and Rapid Arc to Stereotactic Radio Surgery, “all of the state-of-the-art techniques.”


A Team Approach

A former volunteer firefighter in Andover Township, who was a construction project manager, when he was diagnosed, Christener has a positive outlook and praise for the cancer center and its staff. “I have not met one person from this hospital that hasn’t been helpful, pleasant and gracious in one form or another … It’s a team. I haven’t met anybody here who wants to march against the grain,” he said.

He told a story of what happened when an RN in the Infusion Center discovered he had a hard to find port for administrating his chemotherapy. She made sure when she left for the day that any nurse who needed to find that port knew where it was and, “When I came in the next day, a new nurse said, ‘I know you, you are the man with the hard to find port.’ Now they all recognize me by my port. It’s a wonderful thing that someone cared enough to do that.”

Asked if he had anything to add, he said, “I live life every day as if it is going to be my last one,” but that doesn’t mean he’s given up, he’s looking for a job as a construction project manager when he is done with therapy.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

East Hanover/Florham Park

Outstanding Citizens To Be Honored at the Boy Scouts of America 23rd Annual Morris County Lifetime Achievement Awards Dinner

March 17, 2018

WHIPPANY, NJ - Boy Scouts of America, Patriots’ Path Council will be honoring local community members at the Boy Scouts of America 23rd Annual Morris County Lifetime Achievement Awards Dinner to be held on the evening of April 19 at The Hanover Marriott in Whippany at 6:30 pm.  This year’s honorees are Reynaldo Caudillo, Bruce Jones, Michael Lupton, Ron Morano, Lou ...

Avon Loses Its Last ‘Grand’ Hotel to the Claw of an Excavator

March 21, 2018

AVON-BY-THE-SEA, NJ — In less than two days, an Avon-by-the-Sea landmark that stood for 130 years was reduced to a huge pile of rubble. The Norwood Inn no longer stands on the corner of Norwood and Second Avenues — the last of the stately hotels that once graced the streets of Avon.

As onlookers gathered around the demolition site on March 15 and March 16, an excavator clawed its ...

Belmar/Lake Como St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Where Everyone is Irish for the Day

BELMAR/LAKE COMO, NJ — As the sun played hide and seek with the clouds yesterday afternoon, the Belmar/Lake Como St. Patrick's Day Parade marched down Main Street — in step with Irish tradition and community spirit.

As the sun played hide and seek with the clouds yesterday afternoon, the Belmar/Lake Como St. Patrick's Day Parade marched down Main Street — in step with ...

Recipe of the Week: Citrus Marinated Steak


1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBS garlic, minced
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. thyme & 3-4 sprigs
Juice of one blood orange
1 ½ lb. steak

To make the marinade, in a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.  Using a plastic storage bag that closes ...

Sparta High School Students Create Donate Life Club

March 20, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta High School students held their inaugural meeting of the Donate Life Club on Wednesday, March 14. Minutes after the walk out in solidarity with Parkland school shooting victims, thirty students met in a classroom during lunch to hear from the NJ Sharing Network about organ donation.

Many of the students were classmates of Isak Anderson, a boy who passed away suddenly ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


Upcoming Events


Wed, March 21, 8:30 AM

St. Vincent Martyr School, Madison

Open House for Preschool, Kindergarten & First ...



Wed, March 21, 6:00 PM

Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center, Conference Room A/B, First Floor, Livingston

Colon Cancer Screening Education Program at Saint ...

Health & Wellness

Wed, March 21, 7:00 PM

Livingston Public Library, Livingston

Empowering Women to Take Control of Their ...

Business & Finance

Frank J Smith School Hosts Scholastic Book Fair March 21-22

March 20, 2018

EAST HANOVER, N.J.- The East Hanover PTA is sponsoring The Scholastic Book Fair at Frank J Smith School this week, Wednesday and Thursday. Opportunities are still available to volunteer and donations will go directly to books for the school as all donations will be matched by Scholastic. Shopping on line is also available by clicking here. 

Joey Bella Memorial Fund, Inc. Band Beer Beefsteak

March 19, 2018

Joey Bella Memorial Fund, Inc. Band Beer Beefsteak  On-line Ticket Sales 

The 29th Annual Band Beer Beefsteak will be held on Tuesday, July 3, 2018 "under the tent" at Gardner Field, Savage Road and Route 46W, Denville.  Tickets are $60 per person and include an all-you-can-eat Beefsteak Dinner served by Giresi Caterers and 15+ microbrew beers.  Entertainment will ...