Anastasia C. Berkheimer chose to have proton radiation because of its precision compared to traditional X-rays. A report published in 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that women who received X-ray treatments to their left breast developed a higher risk for heart disease, which was directly linked to the dose and volume of heart that was irradiated during treatment.
Having a heart condition, Anastasia wanted to protect both her heart and lungs, located just beneath the tumor. Proton therapy precisely directs the beam at the tumor, allowing to efficiently spare surrounding tissues : “Proton therapy is so precise, they could kill the cancer without damaging my heart or affecting my active lifestyle”, she said.
Anastasia battled breast cancer two years prior to receiving her treatment. She had travelled to Los Angeles for more than three months of X-ray radiation therapy, where she suffered from severe bouts of nausea, rashes and fatigue. To her great relief, Anastasia did not have any similar side effects either during or after her two week course of proton therapy.