Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping young cancer patients win back their lives.
BACK FROM USA AFTER PROTON THERAPY
Connor Wood, a brave 15-year-old schoolboy fighting a rare form of cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma, is back home in Bolton, England after spending three months in the USA for specialist proton therapy.
Connor was a fit and healthy teenager who enjoyed sports until he started feeling poorly in October and was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma just before Christmas. He underwent an operation before he flew out to America on May 18 with his mother and sister for the treatment, which was paid for the by the NHS as it is not yet available in this country. The teenager stayed in hospital when he had chemotherapy treatment and was a day release patient while having the proton beam therapy over the 12 weeks. He celebrated his 15th birthday in the United States, and the people of Bolton helped make his stay as comfortable as possible by raising thousands of pounds for him as he underwent the intensive treatment. His mom said: “The support and donations we received from the community was quite overwhelming. People helped ease some pressure of other worries. Connor has been so brave throughout his treatment, he was exhausted at times. When the chemotherapy and the PBT took place at the same time it was very hard for him.” Now back at home, Connor is relaxing after the treatment and is still undergoing chemotherapy at Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital three days a week every three weeks. He is now itching to get back to school.
LIFE TWO YEARS AFTER CANCER TREATMENT
Matt Rackley, a 27-year-old father-of-two who travelled to America for brain cancer proton treatment, is talking about life two years later: “Don’t take anything for granted and don’t give up” is his advice.
It’s been more than two-and-a-half years since Matt returned from Oklahoma after undergoing proton therapy. And since then, the 27-year-old has married long-term partner Hollie, had a second child who is now 6 months old, returned to work as an electrician and even started his own business. When asked what he had learned from his experience, he said: “Don’t take anything for granted, at all. At one point I was very close to being in a wheelchair. I found out I probably should have gone in one, but that was my thing and I think if I had it would have knocked me right down. But having Hollie and my family and my whole community coming together, I knew I was very lucky.” The Matt’s Fund campaign collected £175,000 to pay for the treatment, which is not expected to be available on the NHS until next year. He has yet to be given the all-clear, but doctors have declared his condition stable and he now requires check-ups every six months. Now, his message to anyone going through a similar ordeal is simply ‘don’t give up’, even if he admits he was scared by the prospect of missing his son, who was just two when the family travelled to America, grow up.
PEDIATRIC RHABDOMYOSARCOMA SURVIVOR
Colt Wilson, a brave 4-year-old who has been fighting a rare form of rhabdomyosarcoma, has just been given the all clear and is now cancer free 327 days after his family heard the word “cancer” that would forever changer their lives.
In August 2016, shortly after Colt’s third birthday, doctors discovered a tumor in his bladder known as rhabdomyosarcoma, which then spread into his prostate, which is very rare for pediatric patients. “That day will forever be engrained in my broken heart, my anxiety ridden mind, my baby boy’s life forever”, his mom said. Colt endured 43 weeks of chemotherapy and 28 days of proton therapy. Through it all, he kept up his vibrant, feisty attitude lighting up the room with his smile and strong personality with every one he met. Colt’s story has been one that has been shared in various media outlets going viral, as his mother wanted to do everything she could to raise awareness for pediatric cancer research. “It’s made me want to fight for more and more kids so that one day researchers will know what caused this cancer,” she said. Colt’s tumor is one of the hardest kind to measure because the bladder moves constantly and the fluid in the bladder makes the tumor look different every single time. Fortunately, last July, Colt was given the cancer-free diagnosis.