Weekly Web Review – Week 50

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is giving hope to sick children from all over the world.

 Flying a 19-year-old to the US for life-saving treatment

19-year-old Casper McCallum from Australia has endured 5 years of intensive treatment since he was diagnosed with a fast growing tumor. Now, there is nothing else Australian doctors can do to remove the tumor. His family and neighbors are trying to raise $120,000 to fly him to the U.S. and get him proton therapy treatment.
Casper McCallum was first diagnosed when he was 14. Since then, he has had four operations, undergone months of chemotherapy and suffered a stroke. The family has run out of options in Australia and with the tumor starting to grow close to Casper’s brain stem, their only hope is to fly him to the U.S. before February for expensive proton therapy which has a 95% chance of working and is not yet available in Australia. His mother says he has no chance of surviving without the treatment.
The Australian government has subsidized patients to travel overseas for similar treatments in the past, but the application process for funding would take too long. The family are thus trying to raise $120,000 themselves. If they reach their goal, Casper would need to go to the clinic in the U.S. and undergo intensive treatment every day for six weeks. A Facebook page and crowdfunding page have also been set up for donations and so far $37,490 has been raised. ‘It’s pretty overwhelming, it’s put a massive smile on my face,’ Casper said.

Source here !

Rainbow Christmas Charity Day  
Kent based Rainbow Global Network Services, a leading supplier of some of the world’s premier telecoms, data and technology brands, is holding a Christmas charity day on Friday 12 December in aid of 7-year-old Frankie Rose.
Frankie was diagnosed with brain and spinal tumors in August this year. She endured 10 weeks of gruelling chemotherapy, only to learn that the tumor had tripled in size. The only hope for Frankie was to get proton therapy in the USA.
The cost to get her there and pay for the treatment was £160,000. A fundraising campaign ensued, and much to her family’s relief, the target was reached. Frankie and her family are now in Oklahoma while she undergoes the treatment and additional funds raised will go towards keeping her as comfortable as possible during her recovery.
Rainbow managing director said, “I hope this small gesture will go some way towards helping young Frankie and her family together with Save the Children, and I am sure everybody as we did last year will make the effort to wear a silly jumper or an outfit of some sort.”

Source here !

British boy seeking care in the US
The Vollrath family, from England, will be spending the holiday season away from home this year. They had to travel to Oklahoma City after 10-year-old Liam was diagnosed with brain cancer.
It was during a routine eye checkup in October that doctors realized Liam Vollrath had a tumor called medulloblastoma. His parents and doctors decided the best route of treatment was proton therapy, not yet available in the UK. “Sometimes you just have to go with your gut, and it just felt like the right thing to do,” said Liam’s mom. “Now that we’re here and seeing how well he’s doing, we know that we made the right decision.”
Liam has undergone surgery to remove the tumor and is still undergoing proton therapy. He says he is ready to go back home. “I like the hospital, but I don’t like that it takes so long,” he said. “It takes ages!”
Liam is finding comfort with his new therapy dog Indy who he gets to spend time with every Wednesday, which helps him get through the hard weeks. The Vollraths will soon be released to go back home where Liam will receive chemotherapy treatments for several more months.

Source here !

 

 

 

 

 

 

5-year-old channels superhero strength to fight cancer

Logan Green adores Superman. He reads the comics. He wears the Superman emblem. He wants to fight bad guys when he grows up. Even his immobilization mask for proton therapy was emblazoned with the iconic “S.” For 5-year-old Logan, the Man of Steel was a comfort and an inspiration as he battled one of his biggest villains yet.

Three Days to Live

In June, Logan walked into his parent’s room in the middle of the night, complaining of a headache. Minutes later, he collapsed. After he was airlifted to an Arizona hospital, Logan was diagnosed with an aggressive and inoperable brain tumor. His doctor gave him three days to live.

“It was just unbelievable for us to have our child go from so healthy to three days to live,” says Logan’s mother, Crisandra. “I kept saying, ‘How could this be? There has to be something you can do.’ And the doctor actually reached for my hand and said, ‘Look at me. There’s nothing we can do. Your son’s not going to make it, and you need to figure out how to accept that.’”

At their friends’ urging, Crisandra and her husband Richard sent Logan’s information to Phoenix Children’s Hospital for a second opinion.

That night, the doctor on the floor woke them with news. A neurosurgeon had looked at Logan’s MRIs and believed a portion of the tumor could be removed. “That was a game changer,” Crisandra says. “Even knowing there was a small chance that he could be better was probably the greatest gift I’ve ever received in my life.”

The next day, Logan was airlifted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. After the surgery, the doctor told them, “I’m not supposed to say this as a doctor and a surgeon, but I’m actually giddy right now. Because his surgery went the best it could have possibly gone. And we think we got everything.”

Crisandra, who was nine months pregnant at the time, almost went into labor. “I got so excited that my contractions came on like crazy,” she says. Six days later, their son Peyton was born. For the Greens, it was two amazing miracles in one week.

Superhero Strength

From his first day in the hospital, Logan channeled the strength of his favorite superheroes. After he was intubated, the nurses removed the wrist restraints that prevent patients from ripping out the respirator. Logan reached up to his mouth, felt the respirator and never touched it again. The nurses told Crisandra they had never seen a 5-year-old exhibit that kind of calm.

A day after his surgery, Logan asked to be taken off pain medication. “He wanted to deal with the pain rather than feel funny,” Crisanda explains. “He’s a fighter. He’s so strong, so we named him Superman. If there is a real superhero, it’s definitely him.”

Back to a Normal Kid

With a plush Superman at his side, Logan spent 30 days in the intensive care unit then two weeks in rehabilitation following his surgery. To prevent the cancer from returning, Logan required radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Crisandra and Richard chose proton radiation therapy after learning about the reduced side effects of the treatment. The precision of the pencil-sized proton beam causes less damage to surrounding tissue than standard radiation treatment and helps preserve cognitive function.

“The fact that it reduces long-term effects by so much was worth it,” Crisanda explains. “He’s such a smart kid. It would be awful to take that away from him.”

In August, Logan began daily treatments at Rady Children’s Hospital at Scripps Proton Therapy Center in San Diego, California. “The doctors were amazing. They really treated Logan like he was their own,” Crisandra says.

After 33 rounds of proton treatment, Logan and his family went home in September. Crisandra notes that there have been few side effects. “He had a little bit of nausea, but not much. Towards the end, he got tired. That only lasted a couple weeks. He’s getting back to being a normal kid now.”

Logan will be starting preschool soon. His energy is up, and he’s back to being the family comedian, Crisandra says. “It’s so good to see our Logan is back,” she added. “It’s something we didn’t know we’d see again.”

Two years after proton therapy, Christmas time enchants little girl

[Editor’s Note: This is our third Christmas story in as many years featuring Georgia Halliwell-Paget, a little girl from Manila, the Philippines, who was treated with proton therapy in Korea.]

It’s a few hours after school has let out in Shropshire County, England, and 5-year-old Georgia Halliwell-Paget is still dressed in her primary school uniform, a smart-looking, blue cardigan and white polo shirt.

She’s sitting cross-legged on the floor of her bright new bedroom singing Christmas carols softly to herself while tending to a pair of dolls. Georgia has learned the songs for the upcoming school Christmas play.

An enormous doll house, princess dolls and at least 100 teddy bears of all shapes and sizes sit atop nearly every surface of Georgia’s bedroom. All were acquired in Manila, the Philippines, over the nearly three years her teeny body had been fighting valiantly against tumors on her spine and pelvis, and where Georgia and her family had lived until Summer 2014.

Now, here in the largest of the second floor bedrooms in their West Midlands home, all these toys, posters and the glorious pink décor simply declare to the world: Girl’s Room!

“Yeah, she still is very much a girlie girl,” Georgia’s dad, Nick, says with a chuckle. “She does tend to like her dolls and princesses. She is doing all those normal things little girls do.  And she hasn’t had a haircut since she’s grown it back.”

During much of her life in Manila, and the three months in Seoul, Korea where Georgia was treated with protons at National Cancer Center, dolls and stuffed animals were a brief diversion from the awful pain and viral infections her body experienced during and after rounds of chemotherapy. And they were a diversion from the P53 gene therapy treatments injected into the tumor affixed to her spine.

Today, playing with her dolls, princesses and teddies is no longer a fleeting distraction from her disease. It’s a full-time thing. Georgia’s cancer has been gone for more than a year. And she’s pretty much relishing being a bouncy little girl. “So full of life,” Nick says. “Full of beans,” says her mom, Becca.

Still, there are reminders of the lingering effects of cancer and her treatments. “There’s a tendency for her right foot to go inwards a bit and they gave her a brace to walk with,” Nick says. “Here in the U.K., they are very thorough. They measured her feet and found her right foot is a whole size smaller than her left. And her left leg is a centimeter longer than the right leg.”

Georgia’s height and body weight are still way behind those of her peers, but she’s starting to catch up. “She’s the smallest in the school,” Nick says. But she’s gained more than 3 kilos (nearly 7 pounds) over the past year and she is growing taller.

More frequently than most kids, Georgia continues to be overwhelmed by nasty viral infections that give Becca and Nick a “frightful scare.”

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Nick says cautiously. “She will still get some pain. But it’s nothing like it was two years ago. But she takes it all in stride.”

Georgia just had her first MRI from the National Health Service at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The results should arrive just after Christmas. The family’s Christmas wish is a simple one: that Georgia remains cancer-free.

For now, Georgia and 10-year-old brother, AJ, are reveling in the sights and sounds of a proper British Christmas, quite the change from tropical Manila.

The  family visited a department store recently scouting out potential Christmas presents. Georgia gravitated to the stuffed animals.

“There was a big white tiger there. Georgia calls it ‘a snow tiger.’ And she took a shining to it,” says Nick. “It’s about three times the size of Georgia. We got home and she wrote a letter to Father Christmas about it.”

A week or so later, the family returned to the store together. And Georgia bolted ahead to the toy department to check on the snow tiger. Moments later, Georgia returned to her dad.  “Her bottom lip was quivering,” Nick says. “She said, ‘Daddy. Daddy. It’s gone.’ ”

“Father Christmas may already have come to the store for it,” Nick recalls his reply. Georgia nodded and her attention turned to wrapping paper and ribbons for presents to AJ.

Outside Georgia’s window, dusk is descending on the Shropshire countryside. Georgia is still singing carols to herself, lost in play with her dolls. Behind her, an immense bed is covered in a lovely bedspread.

“She’s got the biggest bed in the house,” says Nick. “She’s completely dwarfed in it.”

And that leaves plenty of room for Georgia to cuddle with her teddies and dolls. And maybe that snow tiger come Christmas Day.

Weekly Web Review – Week 49

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is changing lives and giving hope all over the world.

 

Proton therapy to save teenager’s eyesight

 

17-year-old Matt Tomney, who had his left eye removed after contracting a rare type of tumor called optic glioma, has been given the go-ahead by the NHS to travel to Jacksonville, Florida to have proton beam therapy and save his other eye.

Matt began to complain about headaches and not being able to see just before Christmas 2012. It was discovered that Matt had optic glioma, a benign tumor that began to grow as months went on, subsequently taking his sight in his left eye.

A fund raising drive was launched in October to help his family travel with him to the USA to get proton therapy and save his other eye. This week, Matt was delighted to be getting the news and said: “I would like to thank everyone for the help they have given, and the support both financially and emotionally.”

Matt’s mom said: “We are all astounded at the amount raised and the level of support we have received. It is a huge relief not to have to be concerned about the financial side of this. I can concentrate now on getting Matt through the proton beam therapy and hopefully put an end to his nightmare.” Matt is still waiting on an exact date for his therapy but it is likely to be early January.

 

Source: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/teenager-who-lost-eye-rare-4748035

 

Physician assistant beats cancer 3 times

Chris Sutten, a 45-year-old physician assistant in cardiac and vascular surgery from Minnesota, has already beaten cancer 3 times in the past 9 years. His local paper, the St. Cloud Times, just printed a story on his health battles.

Since the article was printed, Chris has been hearing from strangers, some of them terminally ill patients, who look to him for hope and advice.

It started in 2005, when he discovered a lump on his neck that turned out to be cancerous. Pronounced cancer-free after radiation treatment, Chris returned to work. But in 2008 there was another lump, this one under his chin, cancer again, under the tongue and in the lymph nodes. This time, Chris chose radiation and chemotherapy and survived again.

Then, in 2012, as he was experiencing blurred vision, Chris learned that a cancerous tumor had wrapped itself around his optic nerve and was adjacent to his carotid artery, which led to a tricky 12-hour-surgery in October 2012. This time, instead of radiation, his research led him to choose proton beam therapy. Compared with the previous nine years, the last two have been smooth sailing for Chris. He says his stamina is good. “I’ve got a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old who wake me up at night,” he says. “I get paged at night. That’s part of the job. But I’m doing OK. I drink a lot of coffee.”

 

Source: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20141204/NEWS/141209741/2000/NEWS

 

 

Last patient treated at IU Health PT center

Last Thursday morning, Dennis Day became the 2,079th and final patient to ring the bell at the Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center, a tradition implemented since the center opened in 2004 to celebrate a patient’s final treatment.

“I feel honored,” said the 65-year-old prostate cancer survivor from Illinois. “This place has given me a second chance at life, and a higher quality of life. They’ve treated my cancer pain-free and free of any side effects. And the staff has bent over backward to make me feel comfortable and safe.”

Ringing the bell just before Day was 48-year-old Peter McFarland, a high school guidance counselor who finished seven weeks of treatment for a brain tumor. He said he planned to be back at work today. “People here treat you like you’re a member of their family,” he said. “They get to know you as a person and learn all about you.”

Since the announced closure four months ago, about 30 of the center’s employees have found jobs with Indiana University, IU Health, proton therapy centers in other states or doctors’ offices in Bloomington.

 

Source :  http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/f3b7cf3825f245be8daba460dc5a4684/IN–Last-Bell

Weekly Web Review – Week 48

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality has brought families closer and allowed them to gather for Thanksgiving.

 

Ruby receives her Brave Heart Award

 

5-year-old Ruby Hodgson has spent three years battling a recurring brain stem tumor. Her sheer determination an courage have earned her a Brave Heart Award.

The little girl has been an inspiration to many and she joined 25 others at a special ceremony at St James’ Park in Newcastle, UK yesterday to receive her award along with cancer sufferers Rebecca Henderson, 8, Thomas Forster, 9, of Hartburn, and William Harland, 11. Each child, nominated from across the region, received a Brave Hearts crystal plinth and a gift in recognition of the inspirational courage and strength they have shown in battling illness or adversity.

Ruby recently finished 30 treatments at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital after a brain stem tumor returned for a third time despite proton therapy in the USA. Her parents admitted they don’t know what the future holds, but said: “Ruby is always dancing around and she loves being the center of attention.”

 

Source : http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/courageous-ruby-hodgson-receives-brave-8189453

 

Thanksgiving at Jacksonville Ronald McDonald House

Oliver Crowson, 7, and his mother, Katie, will be spending Thanksgiving with his grandmother and other families at the Ronald McDonald House, a free home for families of critically ill children receiving treatment at local hospitals

Oliver started having headaches and vomiting three months ago. An MRI revealed a tumor larger than a golf ball in his cerebellum. He had brain cancer. The next day, Sept. 11, surgeons removed what they believe was all of the tumor. Then came chemotherapy and radiation, which brought them to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville in October, where Oliver received targeted radiation on the area where the tumor had been.

Oliver, his mother and grandmother have stayed at the 30-bedroom Ronald McDonald House during their time in Jacksonville. On the first day there, an uncertain Oliver hid behind his mother. But staff, volunteers and daily activities made him feel at home.

“It is a fight, a marathon. We’re fighting it together,” Katie Crowson said. “You bond with the families that are here. I’ve made some close friends.” On Thanksgiving, a local family will cook and serve a holiday meal to the house residents. An excited Oliver said the meal will feature four turkeys and all the trimmings.

 

Source : http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2014-11-26/story/families-form-special-bond-thanksgiving-jacksonville-ronald-mcdonald

 

 

Football player with rare cancer is working to recover

 

12-year-old David Gerfast returned from the Mayo Clinic on Friday, just in time for Thanksgiving. Earlier this fall, David was tackled during a football game and a back injury led to the discovery of a rare tumor wrapped around his spine called extraosseous chordoma.

David underwent 2 surgeries at the Mayo Clinic this month. “The goal was to get every single bit out, and I think we did,” said his neurosurgeon. Fusing a few of David’s vertebrates was unavoidable, but necessary to provide strength in his neck. While his days playing football are over, movement isn’t as limited as initially feared.

On Tuesday, David and his parents learned more about the next step to his recovery. He needs proton beam radiation. The Mayo Clinic is in the process of building a proton therapy clinic, but it won’t be complete until the spring, and David needs it sooner.

“The facilities they have in the United States are very few. Mayo Clinic would like us to go to Boston, they are the best and have the highest percentage of success. We want him to have the best care.” Countless people have been cheering for David. He’s received notes and gifts from his favorite NFL team the Seahawks, a highlight video made by his teammates, and several fundraisers are being planned to help the family of five get through this financially.

 

Source : http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/27493325/rosemount-football-player-with-rare-cancer-works-to-recover-after-2-surgeries

Weekly Web Review – Week 47

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping more patients all over the world and covering new clinical indications.

 

Fund set up to pay for 9-year-old’s proton therapy

 

Liam Vollrath, who comes from Cox Green, England was diagnosed with a brain tumor in early October, after an optometrist noticed a swelling on his optical disc and nerve.

Surgeons at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford carried out an operation but they were unable to entirely remove the tumor. His family thus opted to try and get Liam the same proton therapy treatment as Matt Rickley, a Cox Green fellow who is currently being treated in the US, as it is less likely to leave side effects.

The family flew to Oklahoma City on Sunday, November 9. His mom said: “We travelled out here as a family after long deliberations on what would be best for Liam.” The Freddie’s Heroes team who tirelessly raised £150,000 to send Matt Rackley to America is now raising cash for young Liam. The campaign has been named ‘Liam’s Fund’.

An initial target of £150,000 has been set to help pay for treatment and after care. Chris Rackley, who led the fundraising for his brother Matt’s treatment, explained that Johnson & Johnson has already pledged £10,000 to set Liam on his way. The Kids’ n’ Cancer charity has also donated money to the cause. Visit https://www.justgiving.com/liamsfund/ to donate.

 

Source : http://www.maidenhead-advertiser.co.uk/News/Areas/Maidenhead/Liams-Fund-set-up-to-pay-for-Cox-Green-nine-year-olds-proton-therapy-19112014.htm


Ashya King now walking and talking

Ashya King, the 5-year-old brain tumor sufferer whose treatment sparked a row between his parents and UK officials, was back on his feet last Thursday, after proton therapy treatment at a specialist Czech clinic.

Ashya’s parents were thrown into a Spanish jail for three days in August after taking their son from Southampton General Hospital without doctors’ consent to get him to the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic.

Now, after six weeks of proton therapy treatment, Ashya is said to have improved greatly and is able to respond to questions as well as eat and drink normally. The Therapy Center says the treatment took place without complications and during his 30 radiation sessions, Ashya “was getting better and better.” Ashya and his family are leaving for their holiday home in Malaga, Spain over the weekend for his rehabilitation. The family will meet with doctors before he begins low-toxicity chemotherapy. Once he feels better, there is a trip to Disneyland Paris to look forward to, organized by the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Mr King told the Sunday People: ‘He was so happy. Like any other little boy, he’ll love it.’

 

Source : https://metro.co.uk/2014/11/21/tumour-boy-whose-parents-were-thrown-in-spanish-jail-is-back-on-his-feet-4957506/

 

Proton Therapy for Lymphoma

When radiation therapy is needed, heavier particles such as protons, allowing for a more precise dose delivery, may be helpful in reducing side effects by focusing the dose of radiation on the tumor and sparing surrounding normal structures.

For patients with lymphoma, proton therapy might be preferred to photons for a variety of reasons. For example, many patients with lymphoma are younger when diagnosed and live long lives after treatment, putting them at risk for late emerging, long-term side effects associated with standard therapies. Patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), in particular, have high cure rates, but they also tend to develop treatment side effects from the chemotherapy and radiation. In fact, childhood HL survivors are one of the groups at most risk for severe or life-threatening chronic health conditions, such as a second cancer or heart disease.

Because proton therapy is more precise in delivering radiation, the hope is that less heart disease and fewer second cancers will develop. Oncologists who support the use of proton therapy for HL have pointed to the “balancing act” between relapse due to inadequate therapy and severe late toxicities from overly aggressive treatment. Proton therapy provides lower overall radiation doses to the heart, lungs, breasts, esophagus, and other structures for the vast majority of HL patients. Even though the final data may not be in, the known and theoretical/potential benefits of proton therapy seem to be enough for many advocates to recommend it for certain patients.

 

Source : http://lymphoma.about.com/od/symptoms/fl/Proton-Therapy-for-Lymphoma.htm

Treatment for salivary cancer didn’t curb man’s passion for travel and food

Stan Williams is hatching another trip with his wife. This time to New Orleans, Louisiana. Just three months ago, they had explored the gorgeous rainforests and beaches of Belize. And before that, they were strolling the neighborhoods of New York City.

“Stephanie wants to go to the French Quarter,” Stan says. “And we’ll take a boat ride down the bayou. I really just like to taste the flavors of the city and back roads of the Old South. Visiting those little restaurants where they have handmade signs. Hooking up with the locals to learn about their history and culture. And enjoy the great food.”

Diagnosed with cancer of the salivary glands nearly three years ago, Stan hasn’t lost the joy he finds in travel — and good cooking.

“I’m living life like I never had cancer,” he says.

Stan was one of the first patients treated for salivary gland cancer at Penn Medicine’s Roberts Proton Therapy Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Doctors there were cautious, but confident that protons would be less likely to generate the pernicious aftereffects so common to head and neck cancer patients treated with intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

And they were right.

Protons reduced the unintended dose of radiation to Stan’s mouth and tongue. “It didn’t spray radiation throughout my neck and mouth,” he says. “It was a beam. One straight beam.”

The sole side effect of Stan’s proton therapy was an ulcer that had developed under Stan’s tongue early in his treatments. The pain from the mouth sore was pretty significant at first, but medications lessened the discomfort.

Stan continued to taste food normally and produce saliva, which ensured that he could eat during his nearly seven weeks of proton treatments, and maintain a healthy weight — and his strength.

“I was treated every day after work,” says Stan. “The treatments didn’t tire me out. And my appetite never slowed down. In fact, after every treatment, my wife and I would go downstairs to the restaurant and get a cup of soup. Tomato bisque with rice.”

Stan and Stephanie were vacationing in Jamaica in November 2011 when he pointed out a lump on his neck. “Because it wasn’t bothering me, I didn’t think it was that serious,” he says.

Back home in Philadelphia, “My primary doctor said, ‘Yeah, there’s a mass there. You need to get a biopsy,’” Stan recalls. The biopsy needle drew samples from three different spots on the 3-centimeter tumor and found no cancer.

“My doctor said, ‘Let’s get rid of it. It doesn’t belong there,’” says Stan. “When they looked inside the mass, they found a cancer cell in the middle. It had been missed by the biopsy needles. They said, ‘It’s malignant.’ And my wife and I took that news hard. We prayed on it. It was a very emotional time.”

At Penn Medicine, head and neck cancer tumors typically are surgically removed, followed by radiation treatment. “They told me about Dr. [Alexander] Lin and that I should see him,” Stan says. “After hearing about proton radiation, it was a done deal. He told me I might lose my sense of taste during treatment. But I felt it was worth taking that risk.”

Still, Stephanie and Stan thought it wise to explore other alternatives. “We got two or three more opinions,” he says. “One had nothing good to say about proton radiation.”

But their preference for protons was unshaken. Stan began the first of 33 proton treatments in April 2012. Proton therapy was completed in May 2012.

“They made a heavy facemask to hold my head still during treatment,” says Stan. “You ever see Hannibal Lecter? Like that, but made out of mesh and weights.”

In September 2014, Stan retired from a 20-year career at Philadelphia Gas Works, where he serviced natural gas lines inside homes. “My wife works for an airline,” Stan says. “It gives us a great opportunity to travel. And we do. We travel a lot.”

They haven’t even begun their trip to New Orleans, and Stan and Stephanie are eyeing another overseas trip. She’s leaning toward Paris or Italy. “Someday, I want to try an Asian country,” Stan says. “Authentic food is what I like.”