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 helping cancer patients beating the odds and take back control over their life.

PROTON THERAPY GIVES YOUNG GIRL HOPE

Izabella Phoenix Voelker or “Bella”, a 12-year-old girl from Iowa, USA, has been given a new lease on life thanks to proton therapy an her love for whales, after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor called “pineoblastoma” last May.

When she was diagnosed, Bella was given a prognosis so grim that she prepared a will, just in case. Provided she did survive the surgeries, there would still be a lengthy list of possible complications afterward, including brain bleeding, stroke, total loss of hearing, double vision, and other difficulties. But last May, she remarkably came through an 8-hour procedure without any major complications. Her next hurdle required a trip to San Diego for 8 weeks of proton therapy to eradicate the cancer cells that could not be removed during surgery. Funded largely by the generosity of donations from classmates, church groups and individuals from her hometown, she was able to enjoy several sightseeing side trips made between treatments with her family. Bella’s favorite was Sea World, and the sea life amusement park became a refuge from her grating treatment schedule. Taken under the wing of Sea World staff, she was given special access to whale training sessions and other behind-the-scenes activities. Now moving on from proton treatment, she is slated to begin several rounds of intense chemotherapy treatments in the coming days. Though her chances of survival have increased substantially to this point, the upcoming treatments still carry potential risks, including the potential loss of fertility. “I’m a fighter. Has it been hard? Yes. But everyone — my family, friends, doctors — has been so supportive. And it’s nice to have everyone on my side.”

Source: http://www.hastingstribune.com/news/proton-therapy-whales-give-holstein-girl-hope/article_f0dc64d4-7c53-11e6-aea1-4fbce1d70b67.html

FORMER CANCER PATIENT VOLUNTEERS TO GIVE BACK

Felton Morris, a former ProCure Proton Therapy Center patient who went through prostate cancer treatment in 2015, now acts as a volunteer ambassador for the center to help patients face the disease.

“When you are facing prostate cancer, it is good to have a friend who understands”, he says. “I talk to a lot of men. Some are scared. They have horror stories to tell. They need somebody to talk to. They can talk to me. I have gone through it.” Because seeing a survivor do well is encouraging to those who still have the journey ahead of them. Felton remembers his own diagnosis : he had gone in for a routine check, and as an African-American male he had a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. During his physical the doctor noticed a higher than usual prostate-specific antigen level. More tests followed and finally the doctor handed him the diagnosis. “When you hear the word ‘cancer’ it is associated with death. You think of your family. You think of the things you didn’t accomplish,” he said. But there was still plenty to accomplish. Felton began considering his options and eventually visited with a nurse at ProCure in Oklahoma City. They spent a long time discussing the treatment and she answered his questions one by one. “This treatment just doesn’t damage your body as much. You don’t have your rectum burn up. You don’t have your bladder burn up. You continue to go on with life,” Felton said. While some of the preliminary procedures to get ready for his proton treatment were a little uncomfortable, the actual treatment was painless. A few months later he is still feeling great, but he now spends a lot of his free time supporting patients just like him.

Source : http://newsok.com/article/5516314

LIFE AFTER CANCER TREATMENT

Brave little Freya Bevan, a 4-year-old girl from the UK who has been battling cancer for 2 years, has come a long way since she was diagnosed with a PNET tumor in 2014.

Freya was diagnosed when she was just 2 years old and underwent numerous operations and chemotherapy sessions over the course of last year. When the NHS told the family they would not be able to fund the lifesaving proton beam therapy treatment in America she needed, they set about raising the funds themselves, capturing the attention of Wales. Since ending that treatment, Freya has started at nursery and is now thriving as she has recently begun going to school full time. She was also named as the Carnival Princess at the annual Neath Round Table’s Carnival in July earlier this year. Her mom Katherine said Freya’s last check-up was during the summer holidays, and that she was doing well. “We last had a check-up in June and her doctor said everything was looking well and that there were no changes,” she said. “She’s just a little bundle of energy. She’s always running around and she’s just so happy every day.”

Source: http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/watch-freya-bevan-s-progress-after-cancer-diagnosis-two-years-ago/story-29729591-detail/story.html

WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 37

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping cancer patients of all ages and from all over the world fight their disease.

RAISING FUNDS FOR 7-YEAR-OLD WITH BRAIN TUMOR

Kye Ryan, a 7-year-old boy from West Australia, was diagnosed in July with craniopharyngioma, a rare brain tumor that has already caused him to lose his sight. His family has called on the public to help them fund the vital treatment he needs.

Three months ago, Kye was taken to an ophthalmologist after his family noticed he was having trouble with his vision. His optical nerves were very swollen and he was immediately referred to get an MRI. The scan revealed a craniopharyngioma, a type of brain tumor derived from pituitary gland embryonic tissue. Kye underwent emergency surgery to release the pressure that was causing his sight to be affected, and another surgey 7 days later to remove the tumor. He recovered well from his surgeries but has lost all vision, his dad said. The next step for Kye is to undergo proton therapy to eradicate the tumor, but it is not yet available in Australia. The family is trying to raise $100,000 for the journey, and has currently raised $11,600. “We are going through a process through the Australian Government to apply for funding for the treatment, which is up over $200,000,” Kye’s dad said. “Should we get the approval and go ahead with that, there are still going to be many ongoing costs for us as a family… and travel and accommodation for the 6 or 7 weeks he would be in the US. We are really hoping people are happy to help him get the best outcome out of this.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-13/kye-ryan-brain-surgery-proton-therapy-treatment-in-us/7839490

 

PROTON THERAPY FOR GYNECOLOGICAL CANCER

Lucille Price from Maryland, USA, is a 78-year-old woman who was enjoying her retirement by traveling, shopping and staying active with her church, until she was diagnosed with vulvar cancer in 2012.

Lucille went through several surgeries but the cancer kept coming back. By May 2016, she had reached stage 4. Her pastor encouraged her to talk to her doctor about proton therapy. When Lucille found out that his type of treatment could minimize the radiation dose to her kidneys, resulting in fewer side effects, she decided it was the right choice for her. During her treatment, several women from church took turns making the 1-hour drive with Lucille to the Maryland Proton Treatment Center (MPTC). After treatment each day, she was able to continue with her church activities and spend time with her friends. When she completes treatment, Lucille looks forward to traveling again. She has been to Alaska, Arizona, Utah, Tennessee and St. Marten. She hopes for another trip soon to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. “I love driving through the mountains, I could go there for every vacation!” Her physician said that for gynecological patients such as Lucille, proton therapy is a great option, as it spares the nearby healthy organs and tissue, resulting in less side effects on the urinary and bowel function as compared to traditional x-ray radiation.

Source: http://www.mdproton.com/Meet-Our-Patients/Lucille-Gynecological-Patient

 

MAN BATTLING BRAIN TUMOR SETS UP FOUNDATION FOR PT

James McCarthy, who is currently battling a grade 3 brain tumor, has set up the James McCarthy Brain Tumour Foundation to help brain tumor patients get proton therapy and to fund research into the condition.

James started displaying symptoms when he was only 2. “My parents took me to a psychologist because I had behavioral difficulties,” he said. In 2009, he had an epileptic fit whilst driving and crashed into a trailer. The hospital confirmed he had a malignant brain tumor. “It was a death sentence. I thought my life was over,” he said. Three years later, he got a degree in Business Management, but the growth returned in 2014. That’s when he set up his organization. James has undergone conventional treatment without success and wants to help others get the proton beam treatment he craves but hasn’t been offered. “I would like every brain tumor patient to have proton beam treatment under the NHS,” he said. “It is available in Prague for just £20,000.” In early September, he engaged into his Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge with his best mate and climbed the 3 Yorkshire peaks in pouring rain, which took almost 10 hours. “I have never been so wet in my life. I used cancer as my motivation to finish,” said James. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/james-mccarthy-2?utm_id=107&utm_term=xYV27zpb7.

Source : http://www.messengernewspapers.co.uk/news/whereyoulive/14727349.Flixton_man_battling_brain_tumour_sets_up_foundation_to_fund_Proton_Beam_treatments/

WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 36

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in the US: this week, find out how state-of-the-art proton therapy is helping men avoid debilitating side effects and lead a normal life after a prostate cancer diagnosis. 

MAN WITH PROSTATE CANCER CHOOSES PROTON THERAPY

62-year-old Max Searcy of Marysville, Kansas chose to travel to Oklahoma City to receive proton therapy after seeing his father and brother struggle through prostate cancer treatment and its complications.

Max discovered he had prostate cancer during a routine checkup in 2015. Respectively two years and two decades earlier, his brother and father had battled the same cancer. He went to see his urologist to begin evaluating his options: “surgery, radiation, cryotherapy, active waiting. No mention about protons at the time,” Max said. Of course the first objective when facing a prostate cancer diagnosis is defeating the cancer, but men soon discover that many treatment forms come with significant side effects, such as urinary and bowel dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, loss of fertility and more. Max continued to research and wait, then he bumped into an acquaintance who had gone through proton therapy for prostate cancer. He eventually set up an appointment at the Oklahoma City proton center and began planning his treatment with his wife, as it required being away from family and work for almost 9 weeks. The couple stayed in Oklahoma during the week and traveled home to Kansas every weekend. Now nearly finished with treatment, Max has no regrets. “Life is fragile. I am looking forward to ringing the bell, and joining the brotherhood of alumni. I will forever be a proton advocate,” he said.

Source: http://newsok.com/article/5516190

CANCER FREE AFTER REVOLUTIONARY TREATMENT

Steve Simon, a successful real estate developer from Louisiana, USA recently completed a course of proton therapy treatment after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

When Steve isn’t working, he’s traveling to romantic getaways with his wife of 45 years or hanging out with his kids and grandkids. Things were going along pretty well for him until about a year ago when an annual physical revealed he had prostate cancer. His first thought was to have his prostate removed but he decided that may be too harsh. “I’ve known several people that have had the surgery. It’s a difficult surgery. It leaves some unpleasant side effects. I decided I really didn’t want to do that,” he said. After researching his options for six months, he decided proton therapy would best fit his needs. For 44 days, Steve went to Willis Knighton 5 days a week for about an hour each time. As the procedure was painless, non-invasive, and had little to no side effects, Steve chose to share his story even though he’s a private person: “if it helps other people that’s why I’m here because I really believe that this is a very positive treatment and people need support.” Steve is now cancer-free, but he will continue monitoring for the next 5 years.

Source: http://www.ktbs.com/story/33040877/local-man-cancerfree-following-revolutionary-new-treatment

 

KNOWING THE SIGNS OF PROSTATE CANCER

Mike Bible, a 71-year-old veteran and former patient at ProCure in Oklahoma city, is encouraging men to know the risk factors and early signs of prostate cancer.

Mike was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013 during a physical for the Veterans Administration (VA). Given the potential risks and aggressive nature of his prostate cancer, his urologist recommended 3 treatment options: robotic surgery, brachytherapy seeds or proton therapy. “I decided on proton therapy because it was the least invasive and had minimal side effects,” said Mike. “I received proton therapy treatment for 2 months and it didn’t interfere in my day-to-day life. I could still play with my grandkids, go on walks with my wife and do everything I did before prostate cancer.” Since completing treatment 3 years ago, Mike has spoken about prostate cancer and proton therapy’s benefits to his church, his PTSD support group for veterans, at the Oklahoma Capitol and with many other individuals from across the state. “Until you are in the situation where you have prostate cancer, it is hard to anticipate the kind of treatment or care you will need,” he said. “My hope is to share my experience with others so they know the risks of prostate cancer, what to watch for and understand all of their treatment options.”

Source: https://www.procure.com/Oklahoma-veteran-advocates-for-men-to-know-the-signs-of-prostate-cancer

A year after protons, Samantha is loving life

It’s been nearly a year since her proton treatments ended, and Samantha Williams is busy catching up on life. As a fun, vibrant 23 year old in Bedfordshire, she has popped over to Spain, Hungary and the Greek islands with her best mates, in addition to pursuing her career in   southeast England.

I missed out on my summer last year,” Sam says. “My summer was spent with cancer. My friends say, ‘What are you talking about, you were in Prague for eight weeks.’ But it was no summer holiday.”

Back then, Sam was an animal behavior major at Plymouth University, and one final exam away from securing her four-year degree. One last test and she could celebrate her graduation and spend the summer of 2015 with friends on weekend excursions, biking and dining, while actively seeking her dream job at an animal rehabilitation center.

“I was really looking forward to ending uni and starting my life,” Sam recalls.

But Sam’s five-hour train trip back home came days earlier than she had planned. Doctors at Pinehill Hospital in Hitchin finally obtained the test results she had been waiting for. Cancer was found in a lymph node on Sam’s neck.

“I was really panicked straightaway,” she says. “I didn’t know if they were going to tell me, ‘You have a day to live,’ or ‘You have a week to live,’ or ‘You have 10 years to live.’ ”

Her doctors later identified stage three nasopharyngeal carcinoma. They advised a treatment plan that combined chemotherapy with rounds of conventional radiation using intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

But IMRT posed far too many risks for Sam to accept her doctors’ advice. “It would go through my face and out the other side,” she says. “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that’s not good for you. There could be hearing loss. There could be brain damage.”

Sam says she didn’t doubt IMRT’s ability to kill her cancer; she was unsure of its effect on her life as a cancer survivor. “I wanted to know about how you were afterwards,” says Sam. “I cared more about the long-term side effects. I found a girl on YouTube who had exactly what I have and she had IMRT and became half-deaf and had developed thyroid disease. I didn’t want that. I just wanted to be a normal person.”

Searching the web, Sam’s mom discovered the benefits of proton therapy and the cancer care services offered at the five-year-old Proton Therapy Center Czech in Prague.

“I’m not a fan of any radiation, really,” Sam admits. “I believe in natural healing. But I couldn’t gamble with my life.” And the way proton therapy works just made sense to her, she says. No exit radiation and minimal spillover radiation assured her the protons would be killing her cancer and not harming the rest of her body. After talking with the doctors and nurses in Prague, Sam says she thought she had a better chance of living that normal life she hoped for.

She remembers thinking: “Do it. And let me get on with my life.”

In early August 2015, Sam moved into an apartment not far from the proton center to begin her cancer care: 38 proton beam treatments and three full days of chemotherapy. The incredible generosity of family, friends and strangers paid for Sam’s care.

She managed to get out twice for dinner in Prague. But for the rest of the time, “I was confined to the flat,” says Sam, not exactly the Prague holiday her friends have teased her about.

As the weeks went by, the chemo and proton treatments took their toll. Sam got very tired. She lost her sense of taste. Her jaw muscles were stiff. Her mouth couldn’t produce much saliva and mouth sores appeared. All of which meant Sam couldn’t eat very much food. “It all tasted awful,” she says. “I really lost my appetite.”

Sam’s weight dropped about 8 kilos or 17 pounds. Her neck also experienced radiation burns, a common occurrence when proton beams enter the body. “But my eyes didn’t get touched; my brain didn’t get touched,” she says.

Sam kept in contact with her friends via FaceTime. Her new boyfriend, too. “He really improved my mental well-being,” Sam says with a laugh.

And that last final exam she had missed? “When they heard I had cancer, they said I could make it up with course work,” says Sam. So, during treatment, I just worked on my laptop and sent it in. And I was able to graduate.”

In late September 2015, Sam completed her treatments at Proton Therapy Center Czech and returned to England the next day. “I was so happy to be home,” she says. “I just straightaway carried on like normal, if I didn’t have anybody in my earhole saying you can’t do this and you can’t do that.

“I just brushed myself off and went on,” continues Sam. “I went scuba diving in Lanzarote. I went to Budapest for my birthday in March and on holiday with my boyfriend in Barcelona in May.”

Sam is working part time as an assistant nurse in an animal hospital and planning her career path for that dream job.

The side effects from her chemotherapy and proton treatments have pretty much subsided. There’s some stuffiness in her ears, which doctors say will return to normal. And she expects her mouth will never produce the saliva it once did. So, a glass of water is always handy when she is eating.

And where better to eat than at a beachside café on the Greek island of Kos. Sam was headed there in August 2016, living and loving life to the fullest.

 

 

 

 

WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 35

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping patients of all ages and making new life opportunities possible.

COLLEGE AFTER CANCER

Sarah Gerlach, a 19-year-old young woman who has beaten an inoperable brain tumor as a high school senior, is now looking at her future.

Two years before she was diagnosed, Sarah could tell something was wrong with her health, as she was suffering from extreme fatigue and debilitating headaches that interfered with her ability to study. “My headaches were so bad my junior year that I would come home from school and take 3-hour naps every day,” she recalls. “I would go to the doctor all the time and get blood tests, but doctors would just tell me they were stress headaches. I felt very frustrated, like nobody believed me.” She was finally referred to a pediatric neurologist and got a cranial spinal MRI, which revealed a cancerous brain tumor. The tumor was inoperable, and even if chemotherapy treatments managed to shrink it, they did not eliminate it, so Sarah and her family decided to look into radiation and elected to try proton therapy at ProCure in Oklahoma City. “My doctor was really awesome,” Sarah says. “During the week, I would go to school for 3 or 4 hours, then drive down to Oklahoma City in the afternoons for my daily proton treatment.” The teen’s last proton therapy treatment was April 6, 2015, and an MRI shortly thereafter showed that the cancerous tissue was dead and she was officially in remission. After finishing up a year of Tulsa Community College this spring, she excitedly talks about attending the University of Arkansas in fall 2016.

Source: http://www.tulsapeople.com/Tulsa-People/August-2016/College-after-cancer/

 

PROTON THERAPY IN OHIO

Melissa Hennie was 15 years old when she was treated for a benign cyst in her eardrum. However, it returned 9 years later, only this time it was cancerous. Now, she is back at University Hospitals, fighting a very different battle.

People in Ohio now have a brand new option when it comes to cancer treatment, available in Cleveland. At just 24 years old, Melissa is fighting cancer in a way no one else in Ohio has before. She slips on her mask 5 days a week at the hospital while and a laser is pointed at her head to destroy an invisible enemy. The “laser” is a proton beam designed to offer targeted radiation therapy at University Hospitals. “The first treatment was kind of scary, because you have a beam right next to your face and you’re kind of freaking out a little bit,” she recalls. “It’s a scary thing, but I never really had time to let it catch up with me.” Her doctor said: “Melissa has a tumor located in the base of her skull. It was removed surgically, but there’s a risk that it could recur from cells that have been left behind. And by using proton beam, we were able to eliminate a lot of unnecessary dose that would have gone to her brain.” Melissa’s prognosis is good, she will have 23 total radiation treatments with the proton beam and then finish out her chemotherapy. She says she is looking forward to getting it all done so she can move on with her life and hopefully never have to do it again.

Source: http://www.newsnet5.com/news/state/woman-gets-cancer-treatment-with-proton-therapy

 

FROM THE UK TO CALIFORNIA FOR PROTON THERAPY

58-year-old Rupert Lowe has led such a full life that he believes success and stress caused his prostate infection in 2006. And as his PSA gradually increased from 2006, a biopsy finally revealed early-stage prostate cancer in 2014.

His doctor recommended surgery, but Rupert wasn’t convinced and began to pursue treatment options with the same zeal that has driven his career. One of his friends had been treated with proton beam therapy at Scripps in California, so he checked it out and liked what he found. The treatment was not available in the UK, so he made the decision to travel to California and rented a cottage with his wife in nearby Rancho Santa Fe. He received daily treatments, Monday through Friday, for 4 weeks and was able to conduct a bit of work while enjoying the San Diego climate and beaches. “I chose to have my treatments at 8 a.m., and then caught up with emails, and by lunch time England was closing down so we had lunch, played a little tennis and enjoyed the weather, which was fantastic,” Rupert says. Since returning home to the UK, he has continued his active work schedule. “I still work pretty hard, and have a wife and 4 children who rely on me, but I’m not tied to a desk anymore” he says. “I don’t think my life has changed that much. I do think I probably pinch myself every time I start to get irritated and say ‘This isn’t worth getting irritated about so why bother?’” If someone were to ask his advice about proton therapy, Rupert would say it is definitely something to look at: “At the end of the day it can mean a better quality of life and less side effects after treatment.”

Source: https://www.scripps.org/news_items/5849-rupert-lowe-traveled-from-the-uk-for-prostate-cancer-proton-therapy-at-scripps?cmp=&utm_campaign=2016-08-10-proton-patient-story–rupert-organic&utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest