Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is allowing cancer patients to have a new chance at life and develop new projects.
BOY WITH BRAIN TUMOR NEEDS LIFE-SAVING PT
Harley Hall, a 10-year-old from Letchworth, UK who was diagnosed with a brain tumor 5 weeks ago, is appealing for help with his family to fund life-saving treatment.
Harley started complaining of headaches in early February, then two weeks later his left hand felt strange. After a visit to the doctor, he was told he was playing too much on his PlayStation and that he may need glasses. But soon after, Harley’s mouth suddenly dropped and he began slurring his words while he was at school. That’s when an MRI scan found a tumor the size of a small orange in his brain. Harley had surgery to remove the cancerous tumor the following day. His grandparents said : “Harley has been coping better than any of us – he is such a lovely boy and he has dealt with everything remarkably.” His dad Jason said: “Everyone is so pleased and amazed at how well he is doing. The speech therapist and physiotherapist are both overwhelmed by his progress.” But further treatment is now needed in the form of proton therapy, which is not currently available in the UK. Harley has flown to Oklahoma in the United States last week with his parents for the two-month course of treatment. ‘Harley’s Brain Tumour Fund’ has been set up on the GoFundMe website in a bid to raise much-needed cash to support Harley and his family. “The flights for two carers and Harley’s treatment are funded by the NHS,” his dad said. “However, we need to consider parking costs, fuel costs, loss of earnings, new passports, visas, insurance, and the cost of living while away and still paying bills in the UK. To help us achieve our goal of getting back to as close to normal as possible, financial help would be greatly appreciated.” To make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/harleyhall66.
RESEARCH LED ALAN SIMPSON TO CHOOSE PT
When Alan Simpson, 63 years old, was diagnosed with prostate cancer, his first instinct was to investigate his options. After reviewing more than 100 medical papers, he decided on PT: minimal side effects and positive outcomes helped make his decision.
As an attorney, Alan enjoys research: “That’s all I was doing for weeks,” he recalls. PT was not among the original options Alan discussed with his urologist in 2015, he learned about it through his personal network and diligent online research. Minimizing potential side effects of prostate cancer treatment such as impotence and incontinence weighed heavily in his decision. That year, he decided with his wife to travel 400 miles to the Scripps Proton Therapy Center for treatment. Alan’s proactive role in understanding the risks and options for his prostate cancer was a journey that changed him profoundly. It was a chance to take inventory, develop new friendships and forge meaningful ties with others fighting cancer, including fellow patients and their families. During treatment, Alan only experienced slight fatigue in the final two weeks, and slight burning during urinary and sexual functions. “Considering the great outcomes, the side effects are a minimal inconvenience,” Alan says. For anyone considering prostate cancer treatment options, he offers this simple advice: “Study this for yourself.” Being actively involved in your treatment and understanding your choices are key. Today Alan is back in the office, managing a rigorous schedule. He is free of cancer and grateful to his doctor and the center’s entire staff. “Having prostate cancer should not be the end of the world,” he says.
NEW MOM FIRST PATIENT AT ORLANDO HEALTH
As Orlando Health was putting the finishing touches on its $25 million Proton Therapy unit at the UFHealth Cancer Center, a tumor began taking root in Rhea Birusingh’s brain.
After three years of trying, Rhea, 36 years old, and her husband were finally pregnant with their first child. So when she started having blurry vision and then double vision, everyone chalked it up to the pregnancy. No one suspected that a tumor had settled in the left side of her brain, close to her optic nerve, feeding on her pregnancy hormones. Then she went to an ophthalmologist: “It took less than a minute for her to find out what was going on,” she said. Within a week, the pediatric pathologist was in the operating room, delivering her son at 34 weeks, so that doctors could figure out a treatment plan for her without harming the baby. The day after giving birth on Feb. 19, Rhea had an MRI that showed that the tumor was in a bad location for surgery or traditional radiation. “When I got the diagnosis, some of my colleagues said I would have to go Texas, Boston or New York to get the best care. I was wondering how I was going to leave my newborn baby, the child I had wanted all my life, and go across the country,” she said. But her oncologist had other plans for her, as she was the perfect candidate for proton therapy. On Wednesday April 6th, Rhea will thus become the first patient to be treated at Orlando Health’s new proton therapy center. “Of course I’m nervous and scared, but I’m very optimistic,” Rhea said. “To know proton therapy is the state-of-art treatment for my tumor and only 45 minutes away from home, I think is a major blessing.”