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.”
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.
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.”