Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is giving hope in the future to patients struggling with cancer.
RAISING FUNDS FOR BOY’S OVERSEAS TREATMENT
Harry Addy, a 7-year-old boy from the UK suffering from a spinal cord tumor, needs specialist proton therapy overseas. As the treatment is not available on the NHS, his family are desperately trying to raise £70,000.
Harry already had an operation to remove the tumor a few years ago, but has since then developed leptomeningeal disease in the center of his brain. His dad Jamie said: “Things have not gone very well for Harry since the operation. He’s had to learn to walk again, made countless hospital trips, had MRI scans, physiotherapy and an 18-month course of chemotherapy to stop the tumor from growing. But it’s still growing and he now has a disease in his brain.” Doctors have suggested that he undergoes radiotherapy treatment in the UK to stabilize the growth of the tumor, but his parents want him to undergo a less invasive form of treatment called proton therapy in Essen, Germany. “We don’t want Harry to have radiotherapy. He’s only 7 and the long-time side effects could be devastating for him. Proton therapy is a better option for younger children as it is more precise in targeting the area of Harry’s spine and brain that are affected. If it goes well, then Harry would need MRI scans every six months. He’d always have the tumor and the disease in the brain. It’s about containing it rather than curing it. We cannot guarantee it will work but we think it’s the best option.” Various fundraising events are being held to support the family, which also comprises Daisy, 10, Tilly, 5, and Hattie, 1.
PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR’S STORY
Alcide Hebert, from Louisiana in the US, discovered he had prostate cancer after his PSA levels doubled within in a year. When he was recommended either surgery or the “wait & see method”, he decided to look for other options.
Alcide was first told by his urologist to “wait and see”, but he was worried his PSA level would jump before the next visit if we waited too long. So he visited another urologist for a second opinion, who suggested surgery . “I told my doctor I didn’t want surgery because of the known side effects,” Alcide said. He and his wife, Sandra, began researching different treatment methods for prostate cancer. That’s when they heard about proton therapy, which is associated with fewer side effects than conventional radiation such as bowel problems, urinary complications or impotence. “Side effects were the big thing for us. I didn’t want to have them like you have with surgery such as incontinence and sexual dysfunction,” Alcide recalls. He began proton treatment at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center in July 2017 where he completed a total of 39 treatments. In addition to discovering the city of Houston, Alcide and Sandra found the support group ProtonPals, where patients are able to share their experience with others while making friendships. Today, Alcide along with his wife spend their time with their 5 grandchildren and on other days, the retired welder is busy woodturning making bowls and vases.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE THANKS TO PT
Steve Roberto, a 55-year-old cancer survivor and transplant recipient who lives in Oxford, has overcome many hurdles.
Steve learned in 2013 that he had been living with hepatitis C for more than 30 years, causing him to develop cirrhosis of the liver and ultimately hepatic sarcoma, a rare cancer of the liver. “This journey started for me five years ago when I went to see my doctor after I was having issues with my stomach and was diagnosed with hep C,” he said. He was also found to have cirrhosis of the liver and was in need of a transplant. He was referred to specialists at UC Health in Ohio to help get a liver transplant and see how his condition was. “It wasn’t good because eventually I found out that I had a mass growing in my stomach,” Steve recalls. “They stuck an 8-inch needle in my stomach to see if this was some sort of abscess that could be drained, but it turned out to be a rare cancer of the liver.” All seemed lost at that point, and the odds were not in his favor for survival. But Steve’s case was presented during a multidisciplinary gastrointestinal tumor board at UC Cancer Institute, and the decision was made to have him go through revolutionary proton therapy, which ultimately killed his cancer. Now closer to full health, Steve received his liver transplant in February. “I didn’t feel this good when I was 40,” he said. “I can’t thank the medical staff for all that they did – they gave me life. I went from 3 to 6 months to live to having a new liver and hope for a future.”