Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is giving teenagers a new shot at life and allowing them to make future projects.
RARE CANCER MISTAKEN FOR MOSQUITO BITE
Matthey Kirk, an 11-year-old boy from Worcestershire, England was shocked when he found out that his swollen nose was not the result of a mosquito bite but a rare cancer that would require aggressive chemo and specialist proton therapy in the US.
Matthew first spotted the lump on a family holiday and didn’t worry about it. But after it more than doubled in size, his parents sought medical treatment and it was discovered the lump was actually alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancerous tumor of the connective tissue. “At the time it never crossed my mind that Matthew could have cancer,” said his mom. “But the tumor was already the size of a tennis ball, I was terrified.” Matthew started high dosage chemo and radiotherapy in October 2014 to shrink the tumor to a small enough size for the proton beam therapy in America to work. Matthew’s family started a fundraiser so that his whole family could travel with him to the USA and the local community generously donated the funds. Doctors flew Matthew out to Oklahoma, USA, for proton beam therapy in January 2015. “The treatment was very intense and left Matthew’s face burnt and peeling as well as giving him severe blisters in his mouth but we knew it was the only way to save our son,” his mom said. “After flying back from America through the night he was so determined to go back to school and see his friends that he went in having barely slept.” His doctors said: “Matthew was a real star, showing great courage and determination throughout this 9-month period. We’re really pleased with his progress and delighted to hear he’s enjoying all the things a young person of his age should be.”
TEENAGER HEADING TO THE US FOR LIFESAVING PT
Jordan Giddins, a 17-year-old fighting a type of bone cancer called Ewing sarcoma, is set to travel to the United States this summer after more than £30,000 was raised in his honor by his family and friends in just 6 weeks.
It is the second time the teenager from Flintshire, UK is battling a life-threatening condition, as he already survived a rare blood disease called hemaphagocytic histiocystosis a few years ago. Despite undergoing a successful bone marrow transplant donated by his sister in October 2011, Jordan was dealt a further blow when doctors found a tennis ball-sized tumor on his ribs in July 2015. As for treatment, Jordan has started chemotherapy, will have surgery in May and then will undergo a gruelling 9-week course of proton therapy in America in June in a bid to destroy the cancerous cells. “The tumor has already shrunk from the chemo and they hope it will be dead when they take it out,” said his mom.The cost of the treatment in America will be covered by the NHS, but his family still needs to fund living costs and expenses for the three months he receives the therapy. His parents have taken on a month-long series of challenges including bike marathons, mountain hikes and sponsored walks: “I’m just overwhelmed and emotional with the response of everyone,” said Jordan’s mom, 48, who has worked for the NHS for 30 years. “We’re just so grateful for everyone’s support. Everyone has wanted to do their bit and it’s just overwhelming that people want to help so much,” his mom said.
THE JOURNEY OF SEBASTIAN DAY
A day after his 7th-birthday party, Sebastian Day’s parents noticed he had a sty growing over his right eye, but the pharmacist said it looked like he bumped himself and told them to take him to the doctor’s if it didn’t go better in a week.
Unfortunately, at the same time, Sebastian seemed to pick up a stomach bug that kept him from school. The bug got worse and the “sty” got bigger, and after one look at Sebastian, her GP referred him straight away to the hospital. Sebastian was seen by several doctors and consultants, he had several blood tests, eye examinations and two MRI scans, which were sent off to specialist hospitals around the world, including the John Radcliffe in Oxford and the Great Ormond Street in London. After a biopsy, Sebastian’s parents were finally told that he had a rare cancerous mass called embryonic rhabdomyosarcoma above to the side of his right eye. Surgeons were only able to remove 90% of the tumor, as the remaining parts were too close to the optic nerve. At that point, Sebastian needed to begin 27 weeks of chemotherapy and 12 weeks of precise proton therapy due to the delicate location of the tumor. At the end of last February 2016, the young boy was sent to Oklahoma in the US, where they have specialist paediatric proton therapy facilities. The NHS funded proton therapy and continued chemotherapy, as well as flights and accommodation for Sebastian and two carers, but it did not cover living expenses or the cost of taking his younger brother, which is why his parents had to set up a website to raise funds and cover the costs of their 3-month trip. The community generously responded and the family was able to focus on Sebastian getting better without worrying about money. Today, the young boy is enjoying the fact that he’s well enough to go back to school!