Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping patients from all over the world in their fight against cancer.
SOLDIER WITH BRAIN TUMOR MARRYING HIS LOVE
Cai Keehan, a 32-year-old ex-soldier who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, is set to marry the love of his life a year after being told by doctors he would not survive long enough to say “I do.”
Cai was diagnosed with a brain tumor after he started dribbling down one side of his face and experiencing tingling in his face. His fiancée Pamela, a trainee dental nurse, knew something was wrong and asked him to seek medical help. Scans revealed a shadow on his brain, a grade 4 inoperable tumor which left him just one year to live. Engaged since 2013, Cai decided to marry Pamela as soon as possible. Now back home, he says he is feeling strong, and juggling wedding plans with sessions of chemotherapy. The couple, who have been together for 13 years after meeting in a bar and have a 10-year-old son, Christian, will marry on April 15 in front of around 150 guests. Christian will be involved in the ceremony as a page boy. A friend of the couple has also set up a JustGiving page on behalf of the club to raise £10,000 towards the possible £30,000 needed to fund proton therapy treatment for Cai in Prague, Czech Republic, in a last ditch attempt to prolong his life, as the chemotherapy has stopped working. “Proton therapy may only give me an extra year or so, but at least I will be married to Pamela,” Cai said. Overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity people have shown, Pamela said: “So many people are willing to help. It is amazing.” Cai added: “I am just taking it one day at a time. I have done 13 years in the army so I have been in tough situations before, but this is by far the biggest battle I have faced.”
CANCER SURVIVOR FIGHTING FOR INSURANCE COVERAGE
Alexa Gash, a 29-year-old wife and new mom, was diagnosed with cancer just before learning her insurance wouldn’t cover her treatment. Now cancer free, she is fighting to make sure all insurance providers cover proton therapy.
“I was brushing my teeth one day, I hit it and had a little bit of blood when I rinsed my mouth,” said Alexa. She got a biopsy and 3 days later got the call back from the doctor. She started researching treatment options: even after surgery to remove the tumor, she would still need radiation and chemotherapy. “I would have possibly had things to deal with such as swallowing dysfunction or loss of certain glands, such as my salivary glands,” she said. She found another option, proton therapy. With a treatment center in Knoxville, recovery seemed to be falling in place. However, her insurance won’t cover proton therapy treatment for her tumor. “You have that fear when you’re waiting for the insurance company to approve you, your cancer could be getting worse or spreading,” she said. She sent letters to her insurance company, three appeals and three denials for coverage. There was a loophole though, as the proton therapy facility has a financial assistance program that covered Alexa. Through 7 weeks of treatment, the family drove along the road to recovery every day from Chattanooga to Knoxville until good news finally came. “I was told I was in remission. Cancer-free, which is the best news ever.” The tumor was gone, but the scars from her battle for coverage are still healing. Alexa is joining other alternative cancer treatment advocates in Nashville this week, hoping to convince lawmakers to pass a bill that would include proton therapy as an approved method of treatment for insurance companies.
NO SECOND TUMOR FOR LITTLE FREDDIE
Freddie Hunt, a 2-year-old toddler from Yateley in the UK who underwent surgery for a brain tumor last month in Arizona, has been given the all clear after doctor feared a second tumor.
Last month, Freddie was discharged from the hospital in Arizona two weeks after an operation to remove most of a brain tumor. However, as he was still suffering from diarrhoea and fluid retention, he was readmitted to hospital this week just days before he was due to return home to be tested for a second tumor. Before going in for the latest round of tests, his mom Abby posted an update on the Together For Freddie Facebook group after another difficult day in the US. She said he had been up all night, screaming in pain and refusing any food. Thankfully, results showed no second tumor, but Freddie is not well enough to continue his treatment. He was due to return to the UK by the end of March so he could recuperate, with the plan that he would return to America for proton therapy. However, the timeline has been thrown into doubt. The toddler is also suffering from some paralysis and has lost the sight in one eye, and it is not clear if either of these effects will be permanent. The family’s troubles therefore continue, with more money needed to complete his treatment.