WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 39

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: as September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness and Prostate Cancer Awareness month, find out this week how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping save more and more thriving lives.

SCHOOLBOY FACING NEW BATTLE FOR LIFE

Brett Scott, 9 years old, who survived a brain tumor when he was just 2, is now facing a new battle for life as doctors discovered the tumor has returned. He will travel to the US next month for 11 weeks of proton therapy.

Brett was 2 when his dad noticed he was leaning to one side as he started walking and took him to the doctor. Tests revealed he had an aggressive brain tumour known as an anaplastic ependymoma. He underwent surgery and 18 months of chemotherapy, which left him with hearing, sight and mobility problems. Despite that, Brett impressed everyone with his will to survive and started to thrive, attending primary school. Since then, Brett’s family had started to believe he was winning his fight. “He kept having MRI scans every year and, with each one, we were thinking, ‘Brilliant, we’ve cracked it’”, his dad said. But the tumor has now returned, and Brett had another operation last week. The family will travel to the US in 4 weeks for proton therapy, paid for by the NHS, after doctors decided it was the young boy’s best chance of survival. Although the NHS will pay for the family’s flights, a hire car and the cost of their accommodation, a fundraising drive was launched on Facebook to raise at least £5,000 to help support the family throughout their 11-week stay. It is also hoped enough money will be raised so the couple’s 17-year-old daughter, Ella, can fly to the US to be with her brother throughout part of his treatment. Brett’s dad said : “The response has been brilliant. It has been quite overwhelming.”

Source : http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/8216-News-devastating-8217-Schoolboy-Brett-Scott/story-27856609-detail/story.html

 

8-YEAR-OLD BEATING CANCER

On September 24, 2012, Todd and Barb Gosselink learned the devastating news: their four-year-old son Jacob was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. Since then, Jacob has been fighting and winning against his cancer.

“Jacob’s head had started to hurt in late August 2012,” stated Barb. “By September, we knew something wasn’t right.” Jacob’s parents brought him to the doctor where a scan revealed a brain tumor behind his cerebellum. Three days later, he underwent surgery to remove it.  Fortunately, a positive prognosis existed for Jacob. Over the course of the next year and a half, the Gosselinks did everything they could to help him get better. They spent 7 weeks in Houston experimenting with proton therapy, a newer approach to cancer treatment, in addition to many months of chemotherapy. On December 12, 2013, six-year-old Jacob was declared cancer free. However, the battle hasn’t ended for the Gosselinks. “We still have to deal with so many of the long-term effects of Jacob’s cancer and surgery,” his mom said. Jacob started physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy shortly after his surgery and continues to do occupational therapy at Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy to work on things like coping skills, muscle weakness, and balance issues. His therapist said “When I think about Jacob, I think of a kid who’s extremely caring and conscientious. While cancer weakened him in some regards, I think it’s made him more aware of how things affect others and their feelings. It’s quite something for a kid his age.” Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy is proud to help raise awareness for kids like Jacob during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Source : http://www.pellachronicle.com/news/pella-boy-beats-cancer/article_076d2076-5d6a-11e5-bc48-53eb79ffe636.html

 

MARATHON RUNNER TRAINING AFTER PROTON THERAPY

55-year-old marathon runner Francisco Vidal, who chose state-of-the-art proton radiation therapy for his prostate cancer, is now training for the New York City Marathon as he is emerging from treatment with a clean bill of health.

The advanced radiation technology he opted for in lieu of surgery or standard radiation treatments was painless and minimized side effects like urinary incontinence or bleeding. He thus never had to interrupt his training regimen in preparation for a half-marathon he ultimately completed in Brooklyn last spring, just months after finishing a 44-visit proton radiation regimen, each lasting just a few minutes. With renewed stamina and clean-as-a-whistle Prostate-Specific Antigen levels, Vidal is now training for the New York City Marathon this fall. “I never really felt weak,” he says. ” I would just build up my adrenaline. I think when you keep a positive attitude and a good level of energy up, you definitely benefit from that,” he says. As September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Francisco is not just a reminder that men of a certain age need to get their prostates examined, but also a reminder of the importance of picking the treatment option that’s right not just for your kind of cancer, but for you. “The biggest obstacle to proton therapy is patient access and awareness. It  used to only be available at Harvard Medical School or Loma Linda University Medical Center in California,” Francisco’s doctor said. “Going forward in the next 10 years, there will be 500 centers across the country. This is a new technology that is evolving, and access is improving.”

 

Source : http://www.northjersey.com/news/health-news/prostate-cancer-treatment-options-depend-not-just-on-the-cancer-but-the-patient-1.1411960

WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 38

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is giving hope and helping young people make new life projects.

 

EXAMS SUCCESS FOR TUMOR SURVIVOR

16-year-old Ben Anderson, who did his exams revision while being treated by proton therapy in the U.S. for a brain tumor, is now celebrating after getting the GCSE (general certificate of secondary education) he feared he would never achieve.

Before his diagnosis in August 2013, Ben had been sick every morning for several years, and had suffered from many headaches, which doctors just assumed to be migraines. It was only after a chance visit to an optician that he was referred for an MRI scan. Although not cancerous, the location of his tumor in the brain stem meant it couldn’t be fully removed. His surgery relieved the pressure on his brain and the symptoms, but at the end of last year, doctors told him he needed proton therapy, as his tumor had begun growing again. After flying out to Oklahoma in January, he would go into hospital for short periods each day and then hit the books in his hotel room. Ben returned home in late April, four weeks before sitting his first exam.”I got back on the Tuesday and was back in school on the Thursday. I’d started to get tired by then and would sleep after school. I lost my appetite as well. But I got through it and the treatment seems to have been successful. The tumor will always be there and I still have some problems, such as my hand shaking if I carry a drink, but I’m finding things all right,” he said. Ben has now achieved eight GCSEs. His success is all the more remarkable as he was forced to miss a term of his courses following the tumor diagnosis in August 2013.

Source : http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/GCSE-results-2015-Tumour-survivor-Ben-s-exams/story-27661567-detail/story.html

 

 

TEEN GETS CLEARED OF CANCER AFTER TREATMENT IN THE USA

Bryoni Millar, 19-year-old British teenager from Kent, has been cleared of brain cancer a year after a campaign backed by the Dover Mercury paper raised enough cash to send her to the United States for life-saving treatment.

Bryoni spent more than 10 weeks in Jacksonville, Florida, undergoing proton therapy, which dispersed the last of a tumor that had been growing for six years. She was found unconscious in bed by her grandma in July 2013 when visiting her in Ireland. Surgeons had to operate fast to remove a large tumor surrounding her brain stem, but a tiny piece was left because its close proximity to her spinal chord meant the risks of an operation were deemed too high. Bryoni’s mother made a plea for help through the Dover Mercury last August, and donations flooded in, exceeding £2,000, to help with living expenses for Bryoni and her grandma. Her mom said: “We had no idea how we were going to do it. We were ready to sell our car and half the house to raise it. You do anything for your children, but I still can’t believe the community support we had.” Bryoni returned from her treatment in October, but has only just been given the all clear. She still has a residual tumor that has to be monitored by scans every six months, despite it being very small. “It could grow back at any time, but for now she’s out of the woods and doing great”, Bryoni’s mom said.

Source : http://www.kentonline.co.uk/dover/news/battling-bryoni-given-cancer-all-clear-42324/

 

CANCER FIGHTER WINS DREAM WEDDING

Bethany Davidson and her fiancé, Caleb Hanby, who was diagnosed last year with a rare tumor, are planning their dream wedding thanks to a radio station contest.

The pair officially began dating in August 2014, and in September, Hanby began experiencing some pain in a tooth in his lower left jaw. He went to the doctor, who initially diagnosed him with TMJ. In October, however, his diagnosis was changed to alveorlar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that primarily manifests itself in children. Doctors initially called for 42 weeks of chemotherapy, but after his first round of chemotherapy and radiation, Caleb got extremely sick from the radiation treatments. The couple went to New York City in July for a second opinion, and several weeks later, Hanby started proton therapy. Bethany said she never realized how difficult it would be, but she also didn’t realize how close it would bring them together. Since the diagnosis, all of the couple’s money has since been spent on medical care, bills, gas to drive to the hospital and groceries. Even though Bethany works two jobs, they still have more bills than they can pay. Last August, they received a call to learn they were selected out of nearly 7,500 contestants to win a $100,000 wedding. “This experience is going to bring so much joy to both of us,” Bethany said, but added, “It’s hard to be fully excited about everything. The big matter at hand is still that Caleb is sick.”

 

Source : http://www.comunicati.net/comunicati/arte/varie/365358.html

ENDURANCE ATHLETES COACHED BY VITAL VOICE

Thousands of miles from his Austin, Texas, home, endurance athletes coached by Bill Earthman are training for grueling, day-long tests of strength and stamina like no other: the Ironman Triathlon.

 

Bill’s athletes live and train in the U.S., the U.K., South Africa, Peru, Mexico and Australia. And they may travel to nearly every continent of the world to compete in Ironman Triathlon series events.

 

Participants first must swim 2.4 miles. Then, they immediately bike a 112-mile route. And finally, they run 26.2 miles. All in 17 hours or less, challenged by weather, waters and terrain unique to the venue — and by the body’s creeping levels of lactic acid that can cripple an athlete’s performance.

 

“You don’t want to work too hard or work too easy during an Ironman,” says Bill, age 50, a former Ironman competitor himself. “You want to find that perfect balance and finish with everything having been expended.”

 

Bill’s athletes count on him to teach, guide, mentor, cajole, encourage and inspire via a regular phone call or Skype. And to listen.

 

“They want to talk to me and talk about how they’re doing with their workouts,” Bill says. “We can talk about the training data we’re collecting. We talk about their diet regimens and the stress in their lives and the sleep they are getting. And I am really paying attention to their voice and listening for the stress in their voice. You can tell if they are recovering from their training or dragging. And we can talk about adjusting things if we need to.”

 

To talk and coach his athletes to peak performance, Bill needs his voice.

 

For a time in spring 2014, Bill feared his voice would be silenced. His voice got very hoarse and he was initially diagnosed with vocal paralysis. Upon further exploration by Bill’s doctors, cancer was found in his larynx, and some were recommending that his voice box be removed.

 

Coaching without his voice? Being a dad to two kids without his voice? There had to be other options.

 

 

 

Conventional radiation therapy didn’t make the cut. Buddies who had cancer on the tongue and back of the throat had regretted their conventional radiation treatments because of the side effects they had to live with.

 

In Houston, Texas, Bill met with Steven Frank, M.D., medical director at MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center. “‘Side effects from your cancer treatment could last a lifetime,’” Bill recalled Dr. Frank saying. “‘So, you want to do the least invasive cancer treatment possible and reduce the harm to healthy tissue.’”

 

Understanding the idea of spillover radiation or what doctors call “the integral dose” — radiation unintentionally hitting parts of normal healthy organs and tissue outside the cancer target — had a big impact on Bill. “Why shoot all this radiation into perfectly good cells?” Bill asks. “You use a rifle. Not a shotgun.”

 

Three rounds of chemotherapy reduced Bill’s cancer. Then, Bill underwent 33 rounds of proton beam therapy in summer 2014. Four more chemo treatments completed his cancer therapy.

 

He experienced some pain during his last two proton treatments, “but it was bearable,” he says. And nothing like the “complete nightmare” his friends had experienced during and after their conventional radiation treatments.

 

“And my bounce back was so quick after my treatments,” he says. “People [who had conventional radiation] said, ‘You’re going to need a feeding tube and you’re going to lose all this weight.’ But I gained weight.”

 

Still, Bill’s voice has changed. It’s deeper.

 

But he has it. And he can put his voice to use, raising and lowering it, using the power of inflection and pause to communicate his advice to the endurance athletes who have hired him. It’s the same voice he uses to be a good dad to his kids.

AFTER PROTONS, NYC WOMAN IS READY TO GRADUATE, START HER CAREER

Radio is Chanelle Scott’s first love.

 

Radio moves her body to hip-hop, neo-soul and EDM. And radio challenges her heart and head through discussions about the most pressing social issues of the day. Like race. And poverty. And living-wage jobs.

 

For a lifelong New Yorker like Chanelle, no one brings radio alive like local journalist Lisa Evers. A general assignment report for the Fox News affiliate in New York City, Evers also hosts a highly rated weekly public affairs program, “Street Soldiers,” on Hot97 radio. And Chanelle is an avid listener.

 

“Lisa Evers,” Chanelle enunciates the name slowly and with reverence. “Oh, she’s my girl. She’s my role model. She talks about real issues, real situations. She makes a difference. Lisa Evers reaches young people with her voice. And that’s what I want to do, too.

 

“I want to help lead discussions about what’s going on in the world,” Chanelle continues. “Why are police and African-Americans having so many problems? Why are young people having so much sex so young? What are we doing about global warming? Radio is a great place to have those discussions.”

 

With nine months remaining before her graduation from the College of Staten Island in New York City, 28-year-old Chanelle finally sees her dream career in radio within her grasp. But if not for Chanelle’s perseverance and strong faith, she may well have given up.

 

Eleven years ago, while still in high school, a tumor was discovered in Chanelle’s brain. “My doctors thought it was cancer,” she says. “Then I went off to Memorial Sloan Kettering and they said, ‘No, it was an astrocytoma, a non-cancerous tumor.’”

 

Chanelle’s symptoms were manageable. So her neurologists recommended that they watch her tumor and wait. In 2006, sudden seizures and incapacitating headaches forced Chanelle to withdraw from college during her first semester.

 

“Bad, throbbing headaches,” Chanelle remembers. “Like a 10 [on the pain scale]. It was not like you could take an aspirin and it would go away. You can’t sit in a college class with an excruciating headache while you are trying to learn science and math.”

 

Chanelle postponed her college education while neurologists continued to monitor her condition. “When the tumor started to grow, my doctors said we had to do surgery,” Chanelle recalls. In March 2007, surgeons at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center removed the tumor from her brain. “It took me six months to recover, and I went back to school that fall,” she says.

 

Despite sensing that her body and mind were moving “a little slower,” Chanelle dove into her studies. “I took on way too many classes when I went back,” Chanelle admits. “I stayed in school, but I had to withdraw from two classes.”

 

Taking on a much smaller, less intensive course load, Chanelle paced herself to try to complete her communications degree in seven or eight years instead of the usual four. Unfortunately, severe seizures and headaches returned in late 2012.

 

Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering found the tumor had returned. They operated again on the same part of Chanelle’s brain. “It took me a really long time to get back to normal,” she says. She returned to college in September 2013 and resumed a partial class load.

 

Clear signs of the tumor’s return hit Chanelle in early 2015. The thought of a long and arduous recovery from a third brain surgery was out of the question, Chanelle says.

 

Her doctors recommended an alternative course — proton therapy at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Somerset, New Jersey. Located about 45 minutes from Chanelle’s Staten Island home, ProCure Proton Therapy is an affiliate treatment provider for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

 

Chanelle ended nearly three months of proton treatments in May 2015. The headaches and seizures have stopped. And her prognosis is good, she says. Chanelle is scheduled for an MRI in September to determine if the tumor is gone — hopefully for good.

 

But she’s not waiting. She’s starting classes again at the College of Staten Island.

 

“I want my degree,” says Chanelle. “I came from hard places and hard times. And we were always told, ‘Get your education and make a difference in the world.’ And that’s what I am going to do.”

 

Chanelle is exploring opportunities for her senior year internship to start in January 2016. Completing it will assure her graduation in May.

 

Lisa Evers, if you’re reading this, we have a tremendous intern candidate for you. She’s got perseverance, intelligence and heart. Her name is Chanelle Scott.

PROTONS GETTING HIGH MARKS FOR TREATING GI CANCERS

 

Harmful spillover radiation to the bowels, stomach and liver has soured many cancer physicians

on using conventional radiation concurrently with chemotherapy or surgery for treating gastrointestinal (GI) cancers.

 

But the lesser side effects of highly targeted proton radiation may dramatically change the negative perceptions about using radiation for GI cancers.

 

“Conventional radiation treatments for GI cancers have definitely been marginalized in pancreatic cancer, gastric cancer and rectal cancer,” says John Plastaras, M.D., a GI cancer specialist at the Roberts Proton Therapy Center and associate professor of radiation oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, part of Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “They’ve been marginalized because their toxicities and perceived toxicities are so great.”

 

“But with protons,” Plastaras continues, “we can potentially make the treatments less toxic and easier on the patients, hopefully improving their quality of life and getting them to additional chemotherapy or through surgery, which is usually a big, big procedure.”

 

According to the World Health Organization, about 4 million people worldwide are diagnosed with GI cancer every year, including more than 144,000 Americans.

 

Plastaras says combination therapy using both protons and chemo is a very powerful weapon against GI cancers, especially when treatments need to be intensified locally. But many medical oncologists are unaware that protons can be as effective at killing cancer cells as photon radiation therapy, albeit with far fewer troubling side effects.

 
“GI cancers tend to hang around the bowel,” Plastaras says. “So whether that’s anal cancer, rectal cancer, pancreaticobiliary cancers or gastric cancers, the unintended radiation dose to the bowel tends to be what drives the toxicity. The dose that really correlates to Grade 3 and higher GI toxicity seems to be in the 15 to 20 Gray range. And that range is really easy to reduce with proton therapy compared to IMRT [intensity-modulated radiation therapy].”

 

Grade 3 radiation toxicities include diarrhea, nausea and/or weight loss greater than 15 percent, for which intravenous treatments or hospitalization are needed. Treating Grade 3 and more severe Grade 4 toxicities often require patients to suspend their cancer treatments for a while. Less severe Grade 2 toxicities can usually be treated at home with medications.

 

If we can reduce the dose to the bowel using proton therapy, we may be able to decrease those short-term toxicities,” says Plastaras, “whether that’s diarrhea or nausea or vomiting. And we’ll be able to show our medical oncology colleagues that we can actually deliver the same treatment with all the local-regional control benefits that we get from conventional radiation — without putting the patient in the hospital with acute side effects.”

 

Using pencil-beam scanning, Plastaras and his associates at Penn Medicine have treated rectal cancer patients with proton therapy and compared treatment side effects with a similar group of patients treated using concurrent IMRT-based chemo-radiation. “We saw significant decreases in Grade 2 and higher diarrhea,” he says.

 
Those findings was presented by Plastaras at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s GI Cancers Symposium earlier this year.