Nadine Bye is 70 and has worked hard to get this far. She has survived two brain surgeries and a battle against breast cancer when she was 60. On Tuesday, she had her last proton therapy treatment after being diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time.
Nadine thought she was done with breast cancer. It had been 10 years and she thought she was in the clear. But in October, she felt a lump near her collarbone. A doctor’s appointment and several tests later, she found out that she had cancer again in her lymph nodes on her right side. It was too complicated to operate on, and doctors decided proton therapy was the appropriate approach.
With breast cancer, one of the main concerns is radiating the breast or chest wall might cause doctors to irradiate the person’s heart or lungs as well. This sometimes can cause heart disease and complications later in life. With traditional radiation, doctors cannot control how deep the radiation penetrates. But with protons, doctors can determine down to the millimeter where protons should stop, sparing critical tissues such as the heart or the lungs.
“The main reason that I wanted to go through proton therapy was it saves other organs,” said Nadine. “And when you’re having treatment from your neck to your waist, you’ve got your lungs and your esophagus and your thyroid and all of those organs that could be affected, and with protons, it doesn’t do that.”
Nadine didn’t know about proton therapy until her doctor suggested it. She had the opportunity to choose proton therapy over other traditional cancer treatments at the ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City, which recently added breast cancer to the types of cancer it will treat with proton therapy.