WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 25

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

CANCER SURVIVOR ADVOCATING FOR PT

Barry Hodge, a 72-year-old cancer survivor from Minehead in England, is starring in a new campaign to highlight the benefits of proton therapy.

Barry was devastated to be told he had prostate cancer just after turning 70. One in eight UK men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives, making it the most common male cancer with 11,000 men dying each year from the disease. Doctors told the retired dad-of-one he would need to undergo external photon radiotherapy and hormone therapy in a bid to tackle the disease. But faced with a long list of side effects from the treatment including incontinence and bowel problems, he decided to travel to try pioneering proton therapy instead. “I was concerned about the damage traditional radiotherapy could do to my internal organs.” The treatment is not currently available in the UK, meaning Barry felt he had no choice but to look abroad. “My son Robert started investigating proton therapy,” Barry said. “He found that America and certain other countries, including Prague, had great success rates.” Barry travelled to the Czech Republic and proceeded undergoing 21 sessions in Prague over a month with his family by his side. After four weeks his doctors told him the tumor had gone. Barry covered the cost of his treatment – around £30,000 privately. He is now cancer-free and says the Proton Therapy Center in Prague ‘saved him’.

Source: http://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/15361287.Czeching_in_for_cancer_therapy__saved_my_life__says_Minehead_man/

 

SECOND HOME FOR AUSTRALIAN PATIENT

Emma Cappel, a woman from Australia suffering from a rare form of cancer on her skull called chondrosarcoma, travelled halfway around the world for treatment in Maryland as National Cancer Survivors Day was celebrated last Sunday.

It wasn’t even a year ago, back in her home country of Australia, when Emma realized something was wrong, as she started losing hearing in one ear and her eyes wouldn’t focus. Doctors ultimately found rare bone tumor based in her skull called chondrosarcoma. She started doing her own research on this rare diagnosis, which brought her to the Maryland Proton Treatment Center in Baltimore for proton therapy. “For my particular kind of cancer, you only get one shot at radiation, the body remembers it. Because I had done my research, I learned that proton treatment was really the only way to go,” she said. Emma’s doctor at the proton therapy center said this new form of treatment may very well be the medical breakthrough many patients need mainly because of its precision: “As cancer patients are living longer, there are risks of getting side effects from the treatment, so proton therapy may be one more tool in our cancer fighting tool shed that can help our patients reduce their side effects from treatment.” Emma needs 35 fractions of proton treatment and she’s now halfway through. The end of the journey will be bittersweet for her: “I’m halfway there, and it’s bitter sweet. I don’t want to finish, I love the place, this is my home, Baltimore, I know where I am at, and the same time I have lots of people waiting for me”.

Source: http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2017/06/04/australian-woman-diagnosed-cancer-baltimore/

 

CELEBRATING LIFE THANKS TO PT

Brad Eastman was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was 31 years old. He received proton therapy treatment at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and is now an advocate for the Alliance for Proton Therapy Access. Here is his story.

“At first glance, you would never suspect that I am a brain cancer survivor. I am young, energetic and, seemingly, the picture of health. But looks can be deceiving. Despite being in peak physical shape, I received the shocking news that I had a tumor approximately the size of a baseball in my brain. I was just 31 years old. Just a month after my diagnosis, I emerged from a successful surgery that strategically removed 95% of the tumor and returned home after a short hospital stay. A year later, a quarterly scan revealed that the remaining 5% of the tumor left in my brain during surgery had begun to grow. My case was sent to a panel of experts who decided proton therapy was the best course of action to defeat this cancer once and for all. My cancer marathon, bolstered by a remarkable care team, brain surgery and proton therapy, had a happy ending. And along the way, I was fortunate not to encounter obstacles or barriers to the treatment plan my expert care team recommended. Unfortunately, that is not case for many people fighting cancer, especially patients like me seeking proton therapy. My hope as a survivor is that when cancer patients are recommended proton therapy by their medical team, their insurer meets them with a timely and clear process for approving treatment. My story — and access to the treatment that was key to winning my race to beat brain cancer — should be the rule, not the exception.”

Source: http://www.stltoday.com/opinion/columnists/i-am-celebrating-life-thanks-to-proton-therapy/article_1d902429-76c9-510b-8cc3-eee025190640.html

WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 24

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 all parts of the world take back control of their life.  

BRAIN CANCER BOY GETS SURPRISE FROM POLICE

Jake Honig, a 7-year-old boy from New Jersey who has been fighting cancer since he was 2, has earned his own place in the Howell Townwhip police force, who surprised him with his own motorcycle and more.

Jake has been battling Ewing sarcoma since he was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 2. He was treated with surgery, chemotherapy and proton therapy and completed treatment when he was 3 years old. He has been in remission since. He has long been fascinated with the police according to Howell Township Police Chief Andrew J. Kudrick. Last year, he visited the Howell police department, received a tour and went in a ride-along in a patrol car. “He’s a huge fan of the police,” Kudrick said. “This year, we decided to visit him.” So last weekend, the police department rolled up to Jake’s home, bringing an armored vehicle and full sirens going as they arrived. Jake’s nickname is “The Tank,” resulting from the strength with which he has fought cancer. “He truly is an inspiration to all of us,” Kudrick said. “I’m sure he has positively impacted more people in the past 5 years than most adults do in their entire life.” The chief said there’s also an application for the police for set aside for Jake when he grows up.

Source: https://patch.com/new-jersey/howell/boy-fighting-brain-cancer-gets-lift-howell-police

 

SCHOOL PRINCIPAL FIGHTING BRAIN TUMOR

Kyle Wetherhold, a 51-year-old father of five and principal at Wilson West Middle School in the USA, was just diagnosed with brain cancer. It was another shock to learn that insurance would not pay for expensive and promising proton therapy.

Last month, Kyle learned he had a cancerous brain tumor. He underwent brain surgery, but doctors were only able to remove 90% of it and wanted to treat the remaining 10% as soon as possible with proton therapy. “It’s the most effective therapy out there,” said Kyle. “It’s not recommended for every tumor, but it is for this kind of tumor. Most insurance companies don’t pay for it because it is still in the clinical phase, although it has been around for decades.” Kyle has an insurance advocate negotiating with the insurance company. “The problem is it’s a delay in treatment every time you go back and forth with insurance,” Kyle said. It means the family must come up with $170,000 to pay for the procedure. A GoFundMe website was started to help raise the money, and as of Saturday morning, it had collected nearly $145,000. “It’s surreal,” he said. “It humbles me every time I look at it. I’m blessed to have touched so many students. They are now reaching out and giving back.” Since his diagnosis, he has loved hearing from many people who have passed through his life and are now reconnecting with him. The family needed $72,000 for a down payment on the procedure. Now that they have it, Wetherhold is scheduled for his first treatment June 26. He hopes his story will clear the way for more people to get proton therapy when needed.

Source: http://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/wilson-west-principal-fighting-brain-tumor&template=mobileart

 

PATIENT CURED OF INOPERABLE BOWEL CANCER

Eric Day, a 79-year-old former dentist from Andover in Britain, was just given the all-clear after he travelled abroad for proton therapy to treat an inoperable secondary tumor.

Eric first developed bowel cancer in 2012, which was at the time treated successfully with surgery and chemotherapy. But last August, he learned that he had developed a secondary tumor in the lumbar region anterior to his spine, the size of a small orange. Because of the severe risk of damage to nearby vital organs, surgery, chemotherapy or traditional radiotherapy were not realistic treatment options. The only choice left available to Eric was palliative treatment to relieve his constant pain. But he refused to accept the prognosis and instead began researching alternatives, which took him to the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic. Eric had 24 fractions of proton therapy as an outpatient, which was carried out each morning. “The process was painless and done in just a few minutes each time, so the rest of the day we were free to explore the beautiful city of Prague,” he said. Following scans in May this year, Eric says he’s ecstatic to have been given the all clear while revealing he’s also now completely pain free. “It’s four months since I took so much as a single paracetamol tablet,” he said. “I am pain free, eating properly again and have regained the lost weight. My ability to do things has returned to normal. My oncologist has seen me again to give the result of a recent PET scan, which shows that the tumor has disappeared and there was no spread anywhere else. He said this was a ‘fantastic response’ and only routine monitoring would be needed for now.” Eric said he hopes his story will encourage doctors to take more of an interest in proton therapy.

Source: http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/813247/bowel-cancer-symptoms-proton-beam-therapy-cure

WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 23

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping young cancer sufferers through their illness and giving hope to their families.

BRAVE BOY UNDERGOES 10-HOUR SURGERY

George Woodall, a 4-year-old from Redhill in England, was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer in November. He underwent a risky 10-hour operation last Thursday to remove the tumor placed near the base of his spine.

The operation has left George with a hole in his back and very vulnerable to infections that could be fatal in his weakened condition, but he appears to be recovering. He is likely to require a wheelchair for the next few years while he recovers his ability to walk. However he is expected to develop scoliosis due to part of his spine being removed in the procedure. “In order to remove all areas the tumour had reached, allowing enough margin of healthy tissue to also be removed, the surgeons had to prize away other critical nerve endings and ended up taking out two and a half muscles surrounding it”, his mom Vicky said. George now has no muscular cushion between his kidney and his bowels. He also has no muscular cushion between his kidney and his skin. He will remain very vulnerable in that area for the next two years at least. When he is strong enough, the Woodall family are due to move to the USA for 10-12 weeks while George receives proton therapy treatment across the Atlantic, and continue the journey to being cancer-free. For now he plays with a toy helicopter in his hospital bed. The remarkable youngster, whose battle has inspired people to raise more than £380,000 for children’s cancer care, still manages to smile.

Source: http://www.surreymirror.co.uk/brave-redhill-boy-undergoes-agonising-ten-hour-surgery-to-remove-cancerous-tumour/story-30372718-detail/story.html

 

PRAISING SUPPORT FOR YOUNG CANCER SUFFERER

Friends and family of Esther Greene, a brave 18-year-old from England currently fighting back against cancer for the fourth time, have praised the overwhelming support of fundraisers.

Esther was first diagnosed when she was just 3 years old, but responded to the treatment and was given the all clear. But by the age of five, the cancer returned, with Esther suffering tumors in her spine. Despite heavy damage to her spine, she fought back again and remained cancer free for 10 years. Her family thought the worst was over but unfortunately it was not to be. While undertaking a scan before an operation on her spine, doctors found the cancer had returned for a third time when Esther had just turned 16. After a tough 12 weeks of proton therapy in America, Esther was once again given the all clear. But around a month ago, Esther received the devastating news the cancer had returned for a fourth time. Esther is currently completing her A-levels at Colchester County High School for Girls and her harrowing situation has not stopped her from getting a conditional offer to study at Cambridge University. Her courage has inspired support from hundreds of people. Her 19-year-old best friend Helena said: “The prognosis isn’t good, but Esther has kicked this disease’s ugly butt three times already. Esther is insane. Not once has she complained or questioned ‘Why me?’ Putting others before herself, she has been relentless in the past month – in fact, all of the time. She is kind-hearted, caring, funny and the most thoughtful person I know.”

Source: http://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/15315770.Friends_and_family_of_brave_cancer_sufferer_praise_support_of_fundraisers/?ref=arc

 

CONQUERING CANCER COMPLICATIONS

Abby Peterson, a young high school girl, began to experience debilitating migraines during spring of her freshman year. She was ultimately diagnosed with AT/RT, a rare type of cancer that occurs predominantly in children under three.

Abby’s headaches led to 2 months of doctor visits, until a CT scan was suggested. “All of a sudden, I had a huge tumor,” Abby said about the lemon-size tumor located near the left side of her skull called Atypical Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT). It is known to be extremely aggressive, so much so that it is not rated in stages. But there was no time to let the news sink in. The next morning at 7 a.m. Abby was in pre-op to have the tumor removed. The operation was a success, but the journey was far from over. She had 8 excruciating months of radiation and chemotherapy ahead of her. The treatments used to save Peterson were equally as aggressive as the cancer. The chemotherapy and radiation were in high dosages, three stem cell transplants were required and she also underwent proton therapy. Her treatments were completed in August 2015, but Abby wasn’t out of the woods yet, as residual radiation damage came up. One day she lost the function of her right hand, and shortly after, her foot. Delays in speech and other cognitive motor skills were soon realized, and the game plan shifted from recovery to discovery of potentially life-altering damages. In May 2016, Peterson underwent a laser procedure at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Care Therapy Center to scar her brain tissue to decrease swelling. But Abby’s story isn’t one of pity, it is of perseverance. She taught herself to become left-handed “almost overnight” and all the while has engaged in keeping up with classes online. “It was amazing to see the outpouring of love and support,” her mom said. “Never give up,” said Abby, mentioning her senior yearbook quote.

Source: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/may/31/northwest-christian-senior-conquers-cancer-complic/

WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 22

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping young patients lead a normal life during treatment and forget about cancer for just a minute. 

YOUNG BRAIN TUMOR PATIENT NOW CANCER FREE

Izabella Voelker, a 12-year-old battling a rare brain tumor, has celebrated a milestone in a very big way last week as she striked a gong as a symbol of the end of her proton therapy treatment. 

Izabella, who is known as Bella, says her journey began with a pain in her elbow. Last May, she was diagnosed with a very rare brain tumor, and the outlook seemed so hopeless that Bella went so far as to write her own will. On the advice of her doctors at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, her family decided to send her to Scripps Proton Therapy Center in San Diego. Proton therapy precisely targets tumors instead of exposing the rest of her body to radiation. “With regular treatment, they would have had to radiate my spine,” Bella said. “The radiation would have hit my organs as well.” She went through week after week of intense radiation sessions. After having her implanted treatment devices removed at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Bella was asked how she would celebrate the huge milestone and she suggested striking a gong. That’s just what she did Thursday. Other patients will have the same chance when they get a port removed. “They have something that they can use to celebrate and to further express their feelings and just to be done with all this,” she said. Bella is currently in remission and off treatment. There was no tumor to be seen in her last MRI.

Source: http://www.wowt.com/content/news/Young-brain-tumor-patient-now-cancer-free-424455923.html

 

TEENAGE CANCER PATIENT OFF TO DISNEY WORLD 

Earlier this month, 100 pediatric patients, whose days are usually filled with treatments, checkups and doctors, were given the unique opportunity to go to Disney World thanks to the Sunshine Foundation in New Jersey as part of their “Operation Dreamlift”. 

This year, one member of the Operation Dreamlift group was Ben Lepisto, a 15-year-old teen with medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor seen in children. Ben was diagnosed after he began experiencing fatigue and blurred eyesight, which ultimately forced him to pull back from playing baseball and a number of other sports he was pursuing. After several blood tests and a biopsy, Ben and his parents learned the news that no family ever wants to hear: he had a brain tumor.  Shortly thereafter, he underwent surgery to have it removed. Sadly, in late summer of last year, the Lepisto family learned that Ben’s cancer had metastasized to his lymph nodes. Determined to treat his cancer as effectively as possible, Ben was referred to ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Somerset, NJ where he would go on to receive proton therapy. For Ben, visiting Disney World was a magical experience: “Being at Disney was really fun, and what I enjoyed most was being able to meet other kids like me, to just have a normal conversation with people who are fighting a similar battle.” Ben will return to school in the fall to begin his junior year on time, thanks to homeschooling, effective cancer treatment and a lot of persistence. “I was really determined to fight my battle against cancer so I can continue doing the things I love. For any other kids going through sickness or struggles, my message is simple: stay driven and stay hopeful.”

Source: http://www.erienewsnow.com/story/35544587/teenage-cancer-patient-travels-to-disney-world-for-the-trip-of-a-lifetime

 

ONE NIGHT AT THE AQUARIUM FOR CANCER KIDS  

Every few months after closing time, the New England Aquarium opens its doors to children being treated at Massachusetts General Hospital. Last week, Kelly Gonzalez, 11, and Dimas Lamp, 8, were among the evening’s “SEA Stars.”

Kelly is a sixth grader from Wilmington who has undergone two surgeries to remove a highly aggressive and malignant tumor from her brain, called medulloblastoma, that doctors found last October. She’s had radiation treatments and chemotherapy. She’s also received proton beam therapy at MGH, which targets tumors with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Dimas, a second grader from West Virginia, has a malignant brain tumor and also came to Boston for MGH’s proton beam therapy. His mom said her son was excited for the aquarium visit: “It’s a bright spot to look forward to in the midst of going to proton therapy and other appointments and taking medicine”. Kelly and Dimas wore big smiles as they watched fur seals and sea lions spin and swim around for herring and squid. Kelly’s mom said: “I just loved to see her doing things that typical kids do, where so much of her time is spent either in treatment or not feeling well.”.  The kids got to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the “fish hospital.” At the tide pool, Dimas fed crab meat to a flounder. Kelly picked up a big horseshoe crab, undaunted by its hard shell, claws and long tail. For a couple of hours, there were no hospitals beds, no grueling treatments, no poking and prodding from doctors and nurses.

Source: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/jessica_heslam/2017/05/heslam_kid_stars_come_out_at_night_in_aquarium