WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 41

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 from all over the world in their fight against cancer.

EPENDYMOMA PEDIATRIC SURVIVOR

Eden Bragg, a 4-year-old from Midland, Texas who was diagnosed with a brain tumor called ependymoma when he was just two, is now two years tumor free after 33 proton therapy treatments. 

In May 2015, Eden suddenly started vomiting for several days. At first, his parents were told that a virus was causing his sickness, until they visited their local children’s hospital in their hometown. Doctors decided to go a step further and complete a CT scan, which revealed a tumor on his brain called ependymoma. Eden underwent surgery to remove the tumor, and unfortunately developed meningitis, an infection of in his spinal fluid. After a month-long hospitalization, doctors began discussions about radiation treatment, highly recommending proton therapy over conventional radiation, as proton therapy is especially beneficial for children who are still developing and growing. “Instead of radiating his whole head, doctors would radiate only a specific spot,” Eden’s mom said. Eden arrived at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center in July 2015 where he completed 33 treatments. Eden and his family were very pleased with the staff at the center: “We loved seeing them everyday. Pediatric Nurse Leo was just so nice. He helped Eden calm down,” Eden’s mom said. Now, Eden is 4 years old and two years tumor free. He enjoys visiting Toys “R” Us to shop for cars, trains and rockets. He loves the outdoors especially visiting barns to pet animals.

Source: http://www.protonpals.org/2017/10/10/patient-story-ependymoma-pediatric-survivor-eden-bragg/

 

VIVIAN THE CANCER FIGHTING MACHINE

Vivian Mallis, a carefree young girl about to turn two years old in November, is all smiles despite high-risk neuroblastoma because she’s too young to understand what her body is fighting.

Danielle learned of her daughter’s diagnosis when she was about to turn one. “They did a biopsy when they first took her back and found it was stage four, high-risk neuroblastoma,” she recalls. The treatment requires the family to travel to the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute five days a week. “She has to get sedated every day,” said Danielle. “She can’t move around for it, can’t eat breakfast and can’t drink anything until she’s done.” But last Friday was a little bit different. There were more smiles, more laughs and more playtime for Vivian with her older brother Christian. Shortly after her family visited her in the center’s playroom, she went with doctors to receive her final proton radiation therapy after two months. She even got to ring a bell to celebrate the occasion. “She’s so strong,” said Danielle. “It’s hard but I stare at her and know everything will be okay. She’s the strongest person I know, and I call her ‘Vivian Jean the Cancer Fighting Machine.’” If you’d like to donate to help with hospital bills you can visit the family’s crowdfunding page.

Source: http://www.13newsnow.com/news/local/vivian-jean-the-cancer-fighting-machine/481400254

 

CROWDFUNDING FOR RARE CANCER TREATMENT

Jie Eccles, a 28-year-old from South Hobart in Australia, has underwent the longest year of his life, but thanks to proton therapy and the generous donations of strangers, he may now still have many years ahead of him.

Jie had his worst fears confirmed when he was diagnosed with stage 3 malignant sarcoma just before Christmas last year. Although he began radiation therapy immediately, he was told he had a 33% chance of survival beyond five years should he continue with surgery and treatment in Australia. But a highly successful crowd-funding campaign raised $40,000 in 12 days and enabled him to go to a clinical trial at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. Jie has now just returned home after 5 weeks of proton therapy at the world-leading center, as this state-of-the-art type of treatment is not expected to be available in Australia before 2020. Jie has now 2 weeks to wait before getting full medical reports back from Texas. “I’m looking at having about an 80% survival rate past five years, which is phenomenal for sarcoma,” he said. “Worst case scenario is I would have to continue having more of treatment. I don’t want to jump the gun, but we’re expecting a really good outcome.” Jie has turned his thoughts to the future after being accepted into a University of Tasmania psychology course beginning next year. “This whole experience has highlighted for me how important it is to have clinical trials and medical research in Australia to make proton therapy more accessible,” he said. “I really want to help people that have walked down a similar path to me and that’s giving me something to look forward to into the future.”

Source: http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/south-hobarts-jie-eccles-hopes-crowdfunding-will-help-him-access-treatment-for-rare-cancer/news-story/f271af789302f99deb775893dac8bf6b

WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 40

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is offering a new chance at life to patients from all over the world.

BRIGHTER TOMORROWS FOR KIDS WITH CANCER

Connor Johnson was diagnosed with medulloblastoma when he was only 13 years old. According to his family, the organization Brighter Tomorrows is one of the main reasons the 15-year-old is now cancer free. 

“I was 13 and we went in for an eye checkup just ’cause I was having headaches and vomiting,” Connor remembers. “The doctor scheduled an MRI for the next day, and that’s what diagnosed me.” His parents say they were just as shocked as he was, but they had little time to consider the implications of their youngest child having cancer, as he was rushed to the hospital for a 6-hour brain surgery. A couple weeks later, Connor started 30 sessions of cutting-edge proton therapy, and then 46 weeks of gruelling chemotherapy. But there were times Connor questioned whether he could get through it. And even if staying positive makes a big difference, it can be difficult for the patient and the parents during such a traumatic time. “When you hear those four words: your child has cancer, you life just comes to a screeching halt,” says Sherrie Decker, co-founder of Brighter Tomorrows, an non-profit that provides support and resources to families dealing with pediatric cancer treatment. That’s why she and four other mothers of kids with cancer started their organization. Brighter Tomorrows offers a safe place of understanding for parents to meet other parents, patients to meet other patients and even siblings to meet other siblings all going through the same thing. Most importantly, Brighter Tomorrows hosts monthly events for the kids going through treatment to look forward to. Connor’s dad thinks Brighter Tomorrows’ method of supporting families has made a profound difference for his family. After more than a year of treatment, Connor is now cancer-free and heading back to school with big plans for his future.

Source: https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/926-treating-more-than-the-disease-giving-kids-with-cancer-brighter-tomorrows/

 

STAFF SERGEANT FIGHTING CANCER

On October 19th, Teresa Monteon, a Staff Sergeant in Travis Air Force Base in California, learned that she had a stage 2 unfavorable Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

Teresa, a medic from San Jose joined the Air Force in January 2010 and was assigned to work in the ICU at David Grant USAF Medical Center. But in August 2015, she discovered a lump on the left side of her neck that would change everything. “It was probably the size of a golf ball and egg combined, she said.” “I thought it could be cancer.” She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, and further tests revealed cancerous tumors on the left side of her neck and chest above her heart. She began chemotherapy in October 2015, and the treatments took a profound effect on her, both physically and mentally. “I was extremely nauseous and tired instantly after the first treatment and I had treatments every two weeks,” she recalls. “That first week after two or three days, my body was really heavy, I had immense fatigue.” She also experienced blisters in her mouth, as well as severe bone and jaw pain. An avid runner and hiker prior to her diagnosis, she shared what it felt like not being able to do the things she loved. Teresa underwent 4 months of chemotherapy receiving her last treatment in February 2016, and also benefited from a month of proton therapy in San Diego. On April 25, 2016, her oncologist told her she was in remission. While she is aware cancer could return to her body, Teresa is wasting no time living the life she loves. She said her cancer battle taught her a valuable life lesson, which she wants to share with her fellow Airmen: “You have the power within yourself to make your life better.”

Source: http://www.amc.af.mil/News/Features/Display/Article/1328557/staff-sergeant-shows-resiliency-in-fight-with-cancer/

 

ROUTINE EYE TEST REVEALS CANCER

Gerald Pearson, a 72-year-old retired consultant, was diagnosed with cancer in his left eye after a simple routine eye test, which spotted the cancerous growth and led to potentially life-saving surgery. 

Gerald visited his ophthalmologist in July 2016 after suffering a flickering sensation in his left eye for two days. Tests revealed that his retina was detached due to a cancerous melanoma in his eye. His oncologist gave him the options to either have the eye removed or have markers placed on the tumor, which could be later treated with radiotherapy. Gerald chose to have a 2-hour operation to have markers on the tumor, despite the risk that the cancer may spread. Six weeks later, he then visited the Clatterbridge Cancer Hospital in Wirral, where he had eye proton therapy. “My situation was desperate,” he said. “The doctors told me that my tumor was 5.9mm in length, with 6mm being the maximum size that they would operate on. I was shocked, to say the least, that I was so close to having an inoperable and potentially fatal tumour on my eye.” Gerald now visits his eye clinic every two months for check-ups, but a scan in May this year confirmed that the treatments had been successful in reducing the size of the tumor. He no longer suffers from the flickering sensation. “I don’t want to even think how far the cancer could have spread if my doctor hadn’t spotted the initial problem with my eye,” he added. “Even though I still have to go back to the eye clinic for tests, it’s a very small price to pay for my overall health. “I would urge anyone to have regular eye tests because I dread to think what could have happened if I had let my symptoms continue.”

Source: http://www.cambrian-news.co.uk/article.cfm?id=116553&headline=Early%20eye%20test%20reveals%20potentially%20fatal%20tumour&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2017

WEEKLY WEB REVIEW – WEEK 39

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 overcome their disease. 

POSITIVE MOJO AND PT TO FIGHT BRAIN TUMOR

Dean Hardin, a 7-year-old boy from St. Clair Shores who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in late July, became Beaumont Health’s first pediatric proton therapy patient on September 14th.

The second-grader’s life changed overnight. In late July, Dean and his father Jeff were effortlessly throwing a football back and forth in the backyard, but within days, Dean began experiencing debilitating headaches that wouldn’t go away. A week later, an emergency room doctor diagnosed him with a brain tumor and he was rushed to the operating room to remove most of the tumor on Aug. 3. Since then, he has had difficulty managing the left side of his body, but each day he gets a little better and his parents are encouraged by his progress. He is currently in the midst of a 6-week proton therapy treatment plan schedule. Despite all this, Dean still has contagious smile and eyes. “This is what I have to do to get better,” he said matter-of-factly, following one of his first treatments. “When we learned about the benefits of proton therapy from several different sources, we knew this is where we wanted Dean to get treatment,” said his mom Kristie. “So far so good,” said Jeff. “We are focusing on the positive and taking one day at a time.”  Proton therapy offers less exposure to radiation and fewer side effects, and also reduces the risk of future malignancies, especially relevant in treating childhood cancer. “Like Dean, we won’t settle for anything less than the best technology, in treating our most vulnerable patients,” his doctor said.

Source: https://www.beaumont.org/health-wellness/news/elementary-school-student-uses-positive-mojo-and-proton-therapy-to-fight-brain-tumor

 

PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and for men, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer. Proton therapy has been able to successfully treat many men with prostate cancer, like John Rick Giardino from Texas.

John was recommended surgery and traditional radiation to treat his prostate tumor, but he decided to visit the medical library at the Texas A&M University Medical School and search for other forms of treatment. After reading approximately 95 medical articles, he decided proton therapy would be the best form of treatment that could precisely target his tumor while sparing nearby tissue such as the bladder and rectum. Proton therapy is also less invasive than surgery and offers fewer side effects than traditional radiation. Rick began treatment in March 2016 and completed a total of 40 treatments. During his time at the treatment center, he started befriending the patients he saw daily in the waiting area. “I saw guys really down so I decided to make posters inviting everyone to dinner,” he recalls. By having dinner, enjoying food and each other’s company, Rick felt it would help boost everyone’s spirits. He continued to faithfully arrange weekly dinners for his fellow patients and by the third dinner he had approximately 40 patients and their family members attending the dinner. Rick is thankful for all the wonderful staff he met at the center: “They find the most compassionate people to hire. Everyone went out of their way to help us,” Rick said. “Their attitudes made you feel like you were their #1 concern.”

Source: http://www.protonpals.org/2017/09/26/prostate-cancer-survivor-rick-giardino/

ALESSANDRA, RHABDOMYOSARCOMA SURVIVOR

Alessandra Alvarado, a 10-year-old brave girl who was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma when she was just 5, has been able to overcome her condition with proton therapy treatment.

In June 2012, Alessandra showed symptoms similar to facial palsy. Her doctor diagnosed her with Bell’s palsy, but after several weeks of no improvement, her parents sought a second opinion and doctors found a rare form of cancer in her middle ear called rhabdomyosarcoma. Her parents knew the importance of finding the best possible treatment for her due to the tumor’s location and began doing thorough researching. Soon after, Alessandra was scheduled for an appointment at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and learned about the benefits of proton therapy. In her case, proton therapy was able to help spare her ear, jaw, eyes and most importantly her brain. She arrived at the center in late July of 2012 and received a total of 28 treatments in conjunction with chemotherapy. Now 11 years old, Alessandra continues doing the things she loves in life thanks to proton therapy. Her advice for others beginning or undergoing treatment, “Even if you are nervous, everyone is here to help you and everything is going to be ok. Stay confident,” she said. Alessandra is now in 6th grade and aspires to become a professor.

Source: http://www.protonpals.org/2017/09/26/rhabdomyosarcoma-pediatric-survivor-alessandra-alvarado/