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 fight the battle of their life.
FAMILY MAN FACING UNEXPECTED BATTLE FOR LIFE
Nathan Meyer is a 31-year-old unassuming young husband and dad from the UK who thought he had his whole life ahead of him. But last November, he received unexpected news.
“I had a seizure the Monday before Thanksgiving when I was at work. I had never had a seizure before in my life,” Nathan recalls. “I went unconscious, I woke up and they had me on a stretcher and took me out to an ambulance, took me over to Oxford, did some CT’s, MRI’s and stuff and found this tumor in my brain.” Since then, Nathan has been dealing with the faceless bureaucracy of health care providers. He’s appealing a decision his insurance carrier made to deny him proton therapy in favor of less expensive but more invasive radiotherapy. “That’s where our lives’ pretty much been over the last month dealing with hospitals and insurance companies,” Nathan explained. “My wife’s been pretty much on the phone constantly taking care of all of that.” Both are upbeat despite the insurance provider’s denial for proton therapy, but are hopeful the appeals process will reverse that decision. They have also learned how many close friends they have when a group of them started an effort to raise money and awareness for Nathan’s plight, and established an account at Franklin County National Bank to ease the financial treatment burden and started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise funds for Nathan’s treatment. In one month, $12,660 has been raised with a goal of $75,000. If you wish to donate and help Nathan, visit https://www.gofundme.com/VictoriousNathan.
MOMS DEPLORING LACK OF PROTON CENTERS
Rosalie Barnes, the mother of a 13-year-old boy who was treated successfully by proton therapy in the United States 8 years ago, is deploring the lack of widely available proton therapy centers in the UK.
In an interview for the BBC, Rosalie said that her teenage son Alex benefited from proton therapy in the US when he was only 5, after his family raised the money by themselves, as doctors in England told them it was expensive and unproven. The NHS have since then decided to back the therapy, building 2 therapy centers of £250 million, which are not open yet. Rosalie said: “I was told that in 2013-14 our new proton centers would be open in this country and I was absolutely thrilled. But here we are in 2017 and no sign of any proton centers yet. What upsets me is how many families have lost children because they didn’t have proton therapy. How many adults have died because they didn’t have it?” Patients who want proton therapy can sometimes receive treatment from the NHS, if the health service pays for them to go abroad. For example, 17-year-old Bradley Marshall was given NHS funding to go to the US for therapy when he was 10. His mother, Dawn Marshall, said: “For the parents whose children are refused the treatment, it is soul-destroying. They must be feeling really vulnerable.” Since 2008, 950 British patients have qualified for treatment, costing around £100,000 each. The first proton therapy treatment center in the UK is due to open in 2018 at Christie’s Hospital in Manchester.
PROTON THERAPY FOR BRAIN CANCER
Troy Witt, a 65-year-old self-proclaimed “country boy” from London, UK, loves his family, fishing, woodworking and riding on his tractor. But all of these activities have been put on hold since spring 2016.
Last year, Troy went to his optometrist for a watery eye. “He must have seen something in the back of my eye because he sent me for a CT scan,” he said. Unfortunately, doctors found a brain tumor the size of a fist. “Besides my watery eye, I never had any symptoms. I was scheduled for surgery the next day,” said Troy, adding that he underwent two additional surgeries, to repair the area where the tumor was removed. But during follow up appointments, a remaining piece of tumor was found, along with other small cancerous spots surrounding the area, which made him a candidate for proton treatment. Troy thus became one of the first patients to be treated at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center/UC Health Proton Therapy Center, which officially opened in August 2016 and is only one of 25 in the country. He received daily treatments for 7 weeks beginning on Oct. 5th, and completed his last treatment on Nov. 21st. With treatment behind him, Troy is simply looking forward to getting back to the things he loves. “I’m just looking forward to being pure old me again, playing Frisbee with my dog, spending my time with my little wife of 50 years, planting a garden in the spring,” he says. “The Lord has made this easier for me, and my family and friends have been with me every step of the way. I’m a blessed man.”