Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is rescuing young children from lethal tumors and is helping them regain control of their life.
BOY WITH DOWN SYNDROME GETS PROTON THERAPY
Cade Weneger is a 13-year-old boy from Oklahoma, USA with Down syndrome. Despite repeated diagnoses of cancer, his family is keeping hope, and some of that hope comes from the promise of proton therapy.
Cade first felt pain in his hip during gym in October 2013. After a visit to his paediatrician, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called sarcoma. It was already the Wegener family’s second cancer diagnosis, as Cade’s mom had also battled cancer. “Dropped a pretty big bomb on us and our family, and left us with not a whole lot of hope at that point,” his dad Chris said. “They actually called us that night and said, ‘We’re admitting you right now.’” As Cade’s tumor was growing up against his spine, when time came for radiation, he needed the most targeted type of treatment. “In fact, there was a nerve root that they were afraid if they damaged that that he would walk with a limp the rest of his life,” his dad said. Most radiation shoots like a shotgun, flooding the entire area, but proton therapy is more specific. People travel from all over the world to get that kind of treatment, but fortunately Cade had the opportunity to go to Oklahoma’s ProCure proton therapy center not far from home. Last Wednesday, he finished his treatments at the center and got to ring the bell and gave a speech. “Everyone says, ‘How do you do it?’ We’re leaning on the rock,” Chris said.
CANCER GIRL RECEIVES A HERO’S WELCOME
Cameron McCarthy from Pennsylvania, USA is a 7-year-old girl battling a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing sarcoma. She has received a hero’s welcome when she returned home after several months of treatment.
Cameron was diagnosed with cancer last May when her parents noticed there was something wrong with her eye. She was then taken out of school and spent months in the hospital for treatment. Last Monday morning, after undergoing her 17th and final round of chemotherapy, Cameron finally left the hospital. “She’s been through 17 rounds of chemo,” her dad Mike said “She also had proton therapy done, 31 times. She’s tough.” A stretch limo with a police and fire escort took her home where she was greeted by the entire community. Cameron’s first stop during her homecoming was her school where classmates held up signs showing their support. She then finally returned to her home where she was greeted by her family, friends and more supporters, including a local celebrity. While Cameron was too tired to talk to NBC10, her parents told us her prognosis looks good. “In the beginning you feel like you’re never going to get there so for her to have her last chemotherapy today, is amazing,” her mom said. “She was up for the challenge I guess.”
SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT FOR BOY WITH BRAIN TUMOR
Edward Norman, 9-year-old, is battling back to health after travelling thousands of miles for treatment to remove his brain tumor.
Edward was diagnosed last year after developing sight problems, when his optician discovered a tumor growing on his optic nerve. He underwent and emergency surgery to remove the tumor, but surgeons could not get it all out without risking his sight. Although the tumor was not cancerous, he still needed the same type of treatment as someone with cancer, and his parents were told that Edward’s best option was proton therapy rather than standard radiotherapy. As the specialist treatment is not widely available in the UK, an NHS panel agreed to fund the treatment in the US, where Edward and his family spent 6 weeks this year. “Edward had treatment every week day and he suffered a few headaches after the first few sessions, but after that he was OK,” his parents said. He is now doing well although his pituitary gland has been affected by the tumor and he needs to take medicine to replace what his body is not producing. He will also need scans and eye tests every 3 months and will continue to be closely monitored but he has now returned to school and is doing well. Edward’s parents are now helping raise awareness of brain tumors and the importance of supporting research into their causes and treatment. His mom said: “I believe brain tumors are the biggest cancer killer in children and the under 40′s. More funding is needed to research these cancers as only a small proportion of the budget goes into this.”