Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping cancer patients of all ages and revealing life vocations.
SCHOLARSHIP FOR BRAIN CANCER PATIENT IN REMISSION
Carter Bowman, 17 years old, was diagnosed with stage 3 brain cancer when he was 13. Three surgeries and several proton radiation and chemotherapy treatments later, he is now in remission.
Carter doesn’t have time to dwell because he has a life to live, which includes bringing joy to others. That’s why he founded The Carter N. Bowman Foundation: to provide stress-free and enjoyable opportunities to young cancer patients during their treatment. His mom said Carter does not allow his diagnosis to control his life: “In some regard, both my husband and I believe his ability to accomplish what he has is because of what he went through. It forced him to grow up faster than his peers and contribute to society. After treatments, he coached his seventh-grade football team, and while he was going through his treatment, he was already planning his foundation.” During his 8 weeks of proton treatment, Carter rode the train back and forth between home and the University of Pennsylvania proton therapy center. That’s when he realized not all patients were able to distract themselves from their diagnosis: “Some of the kids weren’t as fortunate as I was,” he said. “I was able to come home and debrief, but they are sitting in their hotel room the entire time. I wanted to give back to them, so they could live a normal childhood despite all their hardships they are going through… to go to the zoo, the movies, or the museum, and to just be a little kid.” On April 10, Carter was among 600 recipients to receive a $1,000 college scholarship from The Carson Scholars Fund, which honors selected scholar recipients who “exemplify outstanding academic achievement and humanitarian qualities.” “I believe everything does happen for a reason,” Carter said. “I’m starting to understand why I have to go through this. I can help others in return. After college, I want to become a lawyer or a politician to hopefully give back in that way.”
AYVLIN’S PROTON THERAPY DIARY
Ayvlin Jeffery is an eight-your-old young girl with a real joy for life. But recently, this joy has been hampered by some medical difficulties.
After four months of constant tailbone pain and numerous doctor visits with no answers forthcoming, Ayvlin was brought into the emergency room last February. Test after test revealed no new information and she was once again sent home with pain medication and an MRI appointment. The scans ultimately showed a large tumor at the base of her spine, which required complex surgery. Despite the uncertainty of what she was facing and how scary everything was, she remained brave and continued to entertain all the family that surrounded her. The pathology report from the surgery diagnosed her with a grade 1 myxopapillary ependymoma, which determined that proton therapy was needed. Last March, Ayvlin and her mom will thus fly from Canada to Florida for proton therapy in Jacksonville. Ayvlin’s case was approved for a government grant to cover the cost of treatment, but her parents have to raise funds to cover travel and lodging costs as well as other general living expenses that will accumulate over the duration of the 2 months of treatments, all the more since they will have reduced income due to the time off from work they have to take. Make a donation if you think they should not have to worry about money when they are focusing their attention on their daughter’s recovery.
A MAN’S DETERMINATION GIVES HIM PT
When Jacques René Sirois was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in 2014, he knew what he wanted, and he didn’t mind waiting for it.
“I’m not a surgery type of person,” says Jaques René. His brother, diagnosed at 56 with prostate cancer, had undergone a prostatectomy: “He had surgery—I remember the pain he went through. He’s still suffering the effects at 64,” he says. “Another gentleman I know had radiation. He’s a total mess now.” Then he met someone who had received proton therapy at the first treatment center of the USA in Loma Linda, California, and he began looking into the option. At his doctor’s office, he was offered a range of treatment alternatives, but proton therapy wasn’t on the list. But Jaques René had already found Provision Center for Proton Therapy himself and made his decision. “After the consult I said, ‘I know what it’s going to be.’”. However, his insurance denied coverage for proton therapy, so he decided to wait for Medicare, taking hormone therapy in hopes of keeping the cancer at bay until then. The plan worked. His PSA level went down, and he was able to wait until insurance kicked in, and he could travel to Knoxville. He traveled from Franklin, a town just outside of Nashville, each week alone for treatment. But at Provision, “you’re not going to sit here by yourself. There have been nothing but positive things coming here,” he concludes.