Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping reunite families and make plans for the future.
DAUGHTERS TO VISIT THEIR MOM DURING TREATMENT
Lindsey Morton, a 33-year-old mom with spinal cancer, will fly to Florida for specialist proton therapy funded by the NHS. Family, friends, and strangers also raised £5,000 in 24 hours so her two girls can visit her during life-saving treatment in America.
Lindsey, from Manchester in the UK, was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on her spine last August, just eight months after giving birth to her second daughter. She also had cancer as a child and lost a kidney and part of her bowels due to a malignant Wilms tumor. Lindsey has had two operations on her spine, but due to her medical history and having only one kidney, her doctors have decided that regular treatments of radiotherapy and chemotherapy are too risky. The NHS will thus fund proton treatment in the US, a specialist form of radiotherapy that spares healthy tissue, which is not yet available in the UK. Lindsey will fly to the States later this year but fears being apart from her daughters, Harper, aged one, and Lexie, five, for nine weeks. However a crowdfunding appeal launched by a friend raised £5,700 in just one day, meaning the children, and her partner, Ben Jackson, will be able to go and see her during her treatment. Lindsey’s mom will also go with her to America during her treatment. “I am very grateful to be having the treatment – but will be so far away from home. Having my daughters, Ben, and dad come out will be such a boost.”
ASHYA KING’S AMAZING RECOVERY
A young boy with a brain tumor whose parents sparked a Europe-wide manhunt when they whisked him away from hospital has shown the remarkable recovery he’s making thanks to proton therapy.
Ashya was just 5 back in 2014 when his parents removed him from the ward at Southampton Hospital because they wanted him to have specialist proton therapy even if doctors had ruled that Ashya was too ill to travel. Such therapy was only recommended in around 1% of cancers at the time and was also deemed hugely expensive. The Kings were found in Spain a week later, and the mom and dad were arrested. Later that year, the High Court ruled Ashya should go to Prague for the proton treatment. Last year Mr King told how he was now at school and “cancer free”: “He is not completely out of the woods but he is getting there. His brain has had a big trauma and is now rewiring itself.” Ashya recently said in a TV interview that he enjoys riding his bike, playing with Lego and watching films, including his favourites, the Narnia series. On the back of Aysha’s case, two new Proton Therapy Centers are due to be opened by the NHS in the UK this year: one in Manchester and another in London.
THROAT CANCER SURVIVOR
In September 2015, Chuck Caldwell’s throat began to bother him during a trip in Europe. When he went to see his doctor in his hometown of Houston, he informed him he could possibly have throat cancer.
Chuck’s cancer was confirmed in January 2016, and the recommended treatment plan was chemotherapy and radiation. Chuck opted for proton therapy, which was able to precisely target his tumor while sparing nearby healthy tissue, thus offering reduced side effects compared to traditional radiation. Side effects that can be reduced with proton therapy for head & neck cancer include loss of taste, damage to salivary glands, fatigue and nausea. For Chuck, the worst part of his treatment was losing his sense of taste. “When I tried eating my favorite foods like steak and fried chicken, it was like eating my couch or pillows,” he recalls. As a result, Chuck dropped about 70 pounds. However, losing weight turned out to be good for him. “The good thing is that I unintentionally lost weight which helped me breathe much more easily,” he said. Chuck started his proton therapy in February 2016. He completed a total of 36 total treatments over the course of about 7 weeks. Despite all the health obstacles, Chuck considers himself fortunate. Proton therapy improved his quality of life during and after cancer treatment. Now, he is back to golfing with his wife of 33 years.