Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is arousing generosity among communities from all over the world.
RALLYING TO HELP FUND YOUNG BOY’S TREATMENT
Henry Crisp, an 8-year-old boy from the UK facing a second fight with cancer after the return of a brain tumor he had removed when he was only 10 months old, will soon head to the USA for proton therapy.
Henri’s first tumor was discovered when he was just 10 months old, in 2009. “He was falling asleep all the time although he was not a sleepy baby,” his mom recalls. “He was really poorly. He stopped eating solids and was only drinking milk. The most worrying signs were the moments he would ‘zone out’, and not respond to anything. He was just staring into space,” she said. “I didn’t have a clue what was wrong with him.” He had 3 operations and spent a month in the Intensive Care Unit, before he started chemotherapy. The tumor coming back was a “bolt from the blue”, after Henri had done “so well” over the past 6 years without chemotherapy. Luckily it was far smaller than the first tumor. This week, Henry’s family will find out where his treatment will take place, as they are waiting to see if there’s a vacancy at Jacksonville, Florida, or Oklahoma City. His treatment, flights and accommodation are funded by the National Health Service, but Henri still needs £10,000 to cover living expenses while he’s away. The people of Doncaster, Henry’s hometown, are rallying around the family to help them find the money. Henry’ mom has been touched by their generosity: “It’s surprised me how good people have been. I’ve had messages from people I don’t even know on Facebook, telling me they’ve organized this and that.” As for Henri, he has been amazingly brave during the harrowing time since the condition has returned.
9-YEAR-OLD NEEDING LIFESAVING TREATMENT
Amelia Brome, a 9-year-old from Ingol, England who has already lost sight in one eye due to a cancerous tumor in her brain, has been selected by the NHS to receive lifesaving proton therapy in the USA.
Amelia is currently undergoing chemotherapy and has just found out she qualifies for proton therapy, which is not yet available in the UK. Amelia’s mom Cheryl said: “The proton therapy treatment she needs is used instead of radiotherapy, the long term side effects are reduced and it has better results.” Cheryl works at Flame Urban Spa in Garstang Road, which has kindly set up a campaign to try and raise money to help with the family’s living expenses during their 3-month-trip in the USA, as the NHS only covers treatment and travel. The spa is hoping to raise a total of £10,000. “The support we have been receiving is overwhelming, especially from my workplace. They have gone above and beyond to help, and lots of clients have been asking for any way that they can help us too”, Cheryl said. “Any donations, no matter how big or small, will be much appreciated.” If you would like to help with the fundraising campaign, you can donate online via the JustGiving Page.
AVOIDING SIDE EFFECTS WITH PROTON THERAPY
Barry Hodge from Somerset, UK was devastated to be told he had prostate cancer shortly after his 70th birthday. But after some research, he went for proton therapy and is now cancer free.
When he was diagnosed, Barry was told he would need to undergo external photon radiotherapy and hormone therapy. Faced with a long list of possible side effects including incontinence, bowel problems, and loss of sexual function, he and his family started researching alternatives. “The after effects for radiotherapy and hormone therapy are really quite serious and I just thought ‘This isn’t for me’,” he said. “Thank God for the internet, because my wife and son did their research and found that proton therapy was particularly successful for this kind of cancer. They told me I could go to America, where the treatment would cost around £100,000, or I could to the Proton Therapy Centre in Prague, where it would cost around £30,000. “I was reluctant – I told them I had paid into the NHS all my life, so why should I pay for private? But I had to look at what my quality of life would be like afterwards.” Barry spoke to his wife and son and they decided to find the money and fly out to Prague in January 2016. Barry claims his decision to opt for proton therapy was not welcomed by his doctor: “He told me I’d be better off going out and buying myself a new car. He told me it was an absolute waste of money. In my view it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It saved my life.” Barry had 21 treatment fractions in Prague over the course of a month with his family by his side. After 4 weeks, his doctors told him the tumor had disappeared.