Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment is helping children and teenagers fight against cancer, and raising awareness and generosity in families, friends and even total strangers.
Severely-ill toddler on the road to recovery after PT
2-year-old Freya Bevan, who was diagnosed with a Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNET) in her brain last year, has spent the past seven weeks undergoing proton therapy in the US, after money was raised to fund her pioneering treatment.
Freya was diagnosed last May and underwent her first operation at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. She then underwent four rounds of chemotherapy but on September 11, she needed a second operation and suffered a mini-stroke the following day. She has also suffered seizures that brought her to the brink of death. At one point, doctors told Freya’s parents that she would need proton therapy, and they felt the Welsh NHS had handed their daughter “a death sentence” when they refused to fund the treatment. But with the help of generous friends and family, along with children’s charity Kids N Cancer, more than £100,000 were raised to send the two-year-old to Oklahoma. And after 33 general anaesthetics and dozens of very early starts Freya has now completed her course of treatment. “We have finished treatment full stop. There is no more we can do now except pray and pray and pray that the evil beast that’s left in her head is dead,” her mom said. The family will have to wait at least two years before Freya can be given the all-clear by doctors.
A schoolgirl’s fight against cancer
Five-year-old Charlotte Watson has courageously faced her disease since she was diagnosed with a tumor in her eye last summer. Her battle has inspired her friends and family to raise more than £10,000 to help her fight the disease.
As part of her battle, Charlotte, along with both her parents, spent eight weeks in the USA last summer undergoing intensive proton therapy. She was awarded a Cancer Research Little Star for her bravery throughout her 25 sessions of proton therapy and 10 chemotherapy sessions. She underwent her final dose of chemotherapy on December 3 and on Monday will have another scan to monitor her progress. “She’s back fulltime at school and her next scan is on Monday – that’s a big one, to see if there’s news. When we last spoke to the consultant they said her eye is not as swollen,” her dad said. The five-year-old has been described by her proud parents as ‘an inspiration’ but the whole family has not escaped praise. This month a team of walkers, including Charlotte’s uncle and grandad, led by her dad completed the 140-mile Coast to Coast route in aid of Clic Sargent, the children’s cancer charity. So far more than £9,000 of the £10,000 target has been collected, with more money yet to come. To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/Jonny-McKenzie2/
12-year-old thriving after PT cancer treatment
Today’s tweens face a number of challenges in life, but for 12-year-old Madison, the obstacles have been a bit more difficult, as she was diagnosed with a brain tumor just before she turned 2.
At just 17 months old, Madison’s family knew something was wrong. “Her neck was stiff, so we took her to our local hospital.”, Madison’s grandmother said. At first doctors thought she had meningitis, but she was ultimately diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. “We asked that they send her records to St. Jude because we knew they were the best,” her grandmother said. Madison went through 5 years and a half of chemo off and on, with setbacks along the way. When Madison was 7-years-old, she found out the tumor was growing again. This time, she was sent to Florida to undergo specialized proton therapy. Madison has been a St. Jude patient most of her life and her family has never had to worry about a bill thanks to fundraisers like the St. Jude Dream Home. “That $100 may seem small to me, that’s what keeps these children alive, what makes them thrive.”, says Susan. “I doubt I would be sitting here today if it weren’t for them. I am really thankful I had them in my life and they helped me and my family”, explains Madison.