Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment is saving teens from their illness and is helping reunite families from all over the world.
What changed after cancer treatment
Sabrina Dominguez is a Senior at Silva Health Magnet High School in El Paso, Texas, USA. In the fall of 2013, she was diagnosed with a type of brain tumor called medulloblastoma, and underwent treatment at MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center.
Sabrina is now back to high school and tells us what changed after cancer treatment. She is a prolific writer and publishes many of her poems and short stories on her Facebook page, “Sabrina’s Journey.” « Something changed in me when I went back to school after cancer treatment last year. I learned that high school is a tough place, especially after a year away; that it’s not easy to be different from your peers; and that illness can change friendships. When you leave high school, whether at graduation or because of an illness, you might lose touch; you might begin to think that people were only your friends because they saw you five days a week. I’ve learned so much in this past year as a high school senior that most people do not have to worry about. I had to learn to be comfortable with my body while roaming the halls of my high school where girls weren’t bald, they weren’t slower than the rest and their balance, appetite and body shape weren’t compromised. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to not blend in. I don’t care what people think anymore, because I’m beginning to love myself. »
Matt Rackley back walking
A year since Matt’s Fund began, cancer-battling dad Matt Rackley celebrated his 25th birthday over Easter and is on the up, six months after starting proton therapy in Oklahoma. He is now back on his feet and on a lower dose of medication.
In May last year, The Matt’s Fund campaign was launched to raise £175,000 to send the self-employed electrician to America for state-of-the-art treatment to treat his brain tumor. The money was found and Matt returned from America just before Christmas. Matt is now due for another scan at the end of this month : “That will be the one that tells us whether or not it’s got any bigger, smaller or stopped in its tracks,” he said. Matt turned 25 last week and his son Freddie celebrated his second birthday two days later. Matt and his girlfriend, Hollie, 23, marked the joint birthdays with a small party at their home. This time last year Matt was unable to walk, and he says he has ‘almost had to start from scratch’ with writing and walking. Doctors have dropped Matt’s dosage for the medication used to control the tumor’s swelling. This is good news for his rehabilitation, as the medication weakened his legs and restricted his mobility. “I feel better now from taking less,” added Matt.
Young athlete wrestling against cancer
Dylan Shumaker is a multi-sport senior athlete at Bremen High School in Marshall County in northern Indiana. His favorite sport is wrestling. Dylan’s toughest match began with sore hamstrings at a wrestling camp in June 2012.
The pain kept getting worse. Doctors eventually discovered three cancerous tumors on his spinal cord. Surgery at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis removed most of the largest tumor. Then Dylan underwent daily proton therapy treatments for more than a month. Toughness learned on the mat helped him wrestle with cancer. “Mentally, you have to be on your game,” said Dylan after recent follow up testing. “With treatment, there were bad days. But it’s just a thing you have to go through.” Dylan could only watch his football and wrestling teammates his sophomore season. But a clean MRI scan gave him medical clearance to return to the mat as a junior. He finished his wrestling career with a 29-and-9 senior season, advancing to the regional. Dylan still comes to Indianapolis for follow up scans every six months. This fall he comes to the University of Indianapolis for college. His experience has pointed him toward a career in the medical field.