Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is offering new perspectives in life to patients fighting cancer throughout the world.
PEDIATRIC BRAIN CANCER SURVIVOR
Carson Hill, 11-year-old, was diagnosed after he started vomiting after each meal and began to lose weight over a months’ time: numerous tests and visits to the paediatrician and emergency room finally revealed brain cancer.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Carson had to undergo 2 surgeries to help with the fluid flow of the brain and to take a biopsy of the largest tumor. On February 3rd, he went to the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center to begin the final part of his treatment process. After several medical procedures, the last thing Carson wanted to do was come to the center for more treatment, but the staff really helped him with his apprehension. On March 31th, Carson rang the gong to mark the end of his 30 treatments. His last day was filled with bittersweet emotion. With tears in his eyes, he told his parents, “I am so excited it is my last treatment day, but I will miss everyone at the Proton building so much.” Carson recently turned 12 years old and will be finishing 6th grade. He is a very active young man who enjoys being outside, playing karate and shooting hoops. His strength helped carry his family throughout his fight with cancer. Carson hopes to speak to other children about his journey with cancer and encourage them to not give up during this challenging process. He shared his motto as: “You have to fight to the finish with faith.”
TRAVELLING TO PRAGUE FOR CANCER TREATMENT
John O’Kelly, a 66-year-old father from Fairgreen in Ireland, is urging men to look for the warning signs of prostate cancer after he was himself diagnosed with the disease.
John wants to insist on medical checks after he experienced a sudden and frequent need to visit the bathroom. His tests revealed abnormalities on his prostate, a small gland just below the bladder. “I was aware where this sort of thing might lead so I asked to go and have a full medical. They ended up looking at my prostate further and, after two weeks, they confirmed I had cancer,” he explained. John says he was lucky to know the warning signs and insist on tests being carried out, but others aren’t so fortunate. Symptoms include burning or pain during urination, frequent urges to urinate at night, loss of bladder control and blood in the urine. John’s tumor was in the early stages and it had not spread outside the prostate, so consultants advised him to “watch and wait”. Frustrated with conflicting advice and determined to carry on living life to the full, John spoke to doctors who gave him the go ahead to travel to the Proton Therapy Center in the Czech Republic for treatment. “I went to the specialist with 25 questions and then made a decision for myself. Over Christmas, I decided to go to Prague and I travelled out in February. They were exceptional. I had an examination and thought there might be a 6-month waiting list. I came straight home to arrange things and I was back in Prague within a week. They were reassuring and very professional and put me at ease from the word go.” John was treated with five hyper fractions over a two-week period, going in for treatment every other day. He’s now cancer-free and has no regrets about seeking healthcare elsewhere.
FORMER MILITARY CANCER SURVIVOR
Randy Smith, a former military member who served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years and retired in 2011, was diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer in late July 2016.
Although Randy had heard about others getting cancer, it was not something he ever thought he would personally deal with: “It stopped me in my tracks and I questioned how I got this,” he said. After learning of his diagnosis, many people typically ask him if he was a smoker. To the surprise of many, Randy was healthy, never smoked or used tobacco. His only symptom was a very slight swollen lymph node that wouldn’t go away after several weeks. Randy received a total of 35 treatments at our Proton Therapy Center. As a former military member and cancer survivor, Randy has learned to not take life for granted. “I’m trying to balance work and life. I make more time for my family because you never know when your day is up,” Randy said. Today, Randy is back to his active lifestyle. He and his wife, Honey Smith, own and operate a restaurant in Navarre, Florida. After completing his treatment and a brief recovery period, Randy and his family opened their second restaurant in Destin, Florida.