Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping young patients fight cancer and is giving hope to their families.
HIGH HOPES FOR 3-YEAR OLD WITH CANCER
3-year-old Payton was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma after her parents thought she had stuck something up her nose: they took her to the paediatrician, who sent them to an ENT specialist.
“The ENT doctor did a surgery to remove a foreign object,” recalls Payton’s mom, Taylor. “And there was no foreign object. It was a tumor.” Payton’s parents learned their child had cancer the day after her third birthday. In the same conversation, the little girl’s doctor said he was sending her to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Payton’s cancer was called rhabdomyosarcoma, which affects soft tissue such as muscles. In Payton’s case, the cancer was in her sinus cavity. Doctors targeted the cancer with chemotherapy and proton therapy, as St. Jude is home to the world’s first proton therapy center solely for children. Proton therapy was the best radiation therapy for Payton to receive, but it wasn’t easy on her. She received 6 weeks of proton therapy, 5 days a week, and in order to stay still during the treatment, Payton was sedated each time. Her treatment is working, and she has just 12 more weeks of chemotherapy to go before she can return home. “I’m hopeful that we’ll see our sweet little Payton back to normal,” Taylor says.
LEO THE LION READY TO START PT IN THE US
March is Brain Tumor Awareness Month and, appropriately, 4-year-old Leo Bermejo from Spain is about to embark on what could be life-saving treatment in the States.
Doctors at the Oklahoma clinic have now completed their assessments with Leo and consultations with cancer experts on each side of the Atlantic. They have recommended 31 proton sessions, which will be given Monday to Friday from March 9, which means approximately 6 weeks of treatment. The consensus is that Leo needs full brain and spine proton therapy with a boost to the tumor bed. “The treatment needs to be aggressive to kill this beast,” his mom Karen said. Leo will be given a lower dose to the healthy brain and he will not be any worse than he is now. Karen added: ”The doses that we have discussed are the same doses that another child has had who had the closest condition I could find to Leo. I have been in contact with the mother of this child who also had weakness in one side and loss of speech but he is progressing and now goes to a normal school. This child is amazingly now three years in remission!” Meanwhile fundraising events for Leo’s campaign fund continue apace both in Spain and the UK. Members of a gym in Stockport have raised an amazing £19,000 for Leo. To give your support to the ongoing Leo the Lion fundraising campaign, visit www.gofundme.com/leothelion3.
6-YEAR-OLD IN REMISSION FROM RMS
Garrett Clarke is an easygoing, kind-hearted and happy-go-lucky 6-year-old boy who battled a rare and rapidly growing cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), which was pushing out of his right eye.
The Clarke family’s journey began in April of 2013. Two days before his birthday, Garrett’s parents first noticed something amiss. Diagnosed after several tests, the RMS was attached to the tear gland in his eye and was inoperable. On October 24th, after completing 24 weeks of chemotherapy and 5 weeks of proton therapy, Garrett’s scans were clean. Rounds of chemo helped destroy the tumor, while proton beam radiation, valued for its ability to target radiation precisely to the cancer and spare healthy surrounding tissues and organs, was used to destroy any residual cancer cells that remained. With any childhood cancer, explains Garrett’s paediatric radiation oncologist, proton therapy gives kids better odds of avoiding the long-term side effects of radiation treatment, including secondary cancers. Garrett’s parents said they’re grateful for how the staff at SCCA Proton Therapy worked with Garrett to find a way for him to avoid having to undergo anesthesia for his 25 proton treatments. Most 6-year-olds can’t hold still long enough for this precise treatment. But Garrett was able to show that he could, and his treatment team made special modifications to his immobilization mask to take advantage of this. They were able to further fine-tune the proton beam. “The doctors were impressed with him, and we are, too,” said his dad.