Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping young children from all over the world fight against cancer.
YOUNG WOMAN TELLS HER BRAIN TUMOR BATTLE
Rebecca Duff, a 21-year-old woman from the UK, vowed to keep fighting after being diagnosed with a rare brain tumor so big it has spread to her spine
After suffering from chronic neck pain for nearly three years, Rebecca was finally diagnosed with a grade II ependymoma brain tumor, which can cause headaches, sickness, personality changes and vision and balance problems. She said it was a “relief” to find out what was wrong. She underwent more than 12 hours of surgery to remove it. “My surgeon couldn’t believe I was still walking when they discovered it”, she said. Following the surgery in October last year, the decision was made for Rebecca to undergo radiation treatment. However, because they needed to radiate the brain stem, she was sent to America for specialist proton therapy. Rebecca said: “The proton therapy was safer so we decided I would go out to Florida for 10 weeks to receive treatment.” She is now at home recovering, after returning to the UK following the therapy in mid-March. Rebecca was at college when she was diagnosed but has had to put her studies on hold. “I am busy recuperating and want to get my life back to normal as soon as possible. It has been difficult to put my life on hold,” she said. “My family has been a great support – especially my mom and dad.” But Rebecca is now determined to focus on her future: “I want to raise awareness about brain tumors and over this year we are gearing up to do a number of fundraisers for the Brain Tumour Charity. Brain cancer has impacted my life but not my fight.”
BREAST CANCER PATIENT TRIUMPHS WITH PT
Aimée Huff, a 41-year-old mom of two, found a lump in her breast last spring. Days later she sat in an exam room and listened to her radiologist utter the words “I will be surprised if this is not cancer.”
Aimée lives only six short blocks away from the house she grew up in. She has two sons, ages 8 and 12, with her husband, Tom. By day she works as a financial advisor for an independent firm, where she manages financial solutions and plans for clients. Aimée was diagnosed with Stage 2B/3A Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer in May last year. She was selected as a pro-bono candidate for proton therapy at the SCCA Proton Therapy Center and had a very successful run with it, totaling six weeks. She recently graduated on April 13, and received her medal of honor in the form of a “challenge coin” engraved with her patient number, 891. The coin signifies her fight against cancer, so she can put this chapter of her life behind her. SCCA Proton Therapy is located on UW Medicine’s Northwest Hospital and Medical Center campus in North Seattle and is the only proton therapy center in a seven-state region. The center recently celebrated its third anniversary, and is nearing its 1000th patient mark.
PARENTS’ PLEA TO GET THEIR GIRL PT
Grace Walker is a 9-year-old girl from the UK who needs proton therapy to treat a tennis-sized tumor in her cheek. Her devastated mom has made a desperate plea to get her the life-saving treatment in the US.
Grace was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer just days before Christmas last year. But having gone through 6 phases of chemotherapy and 2 extremely invasive surgeries that left her with severe facial scars, the little girl now needs reconstructive surgery and proton therapy, which is only available overseas. Her mom decided to set up a JustGiving page to raise much-needed funds for the 9-week trip. She said: “We are just a normal family, and that is what I wanted to get across in my JustGiving page. Cancer can hit anyone at anytime.” Since Denise created the JustGiving page just two and a half weeks ago, it has raised more than £8,400. Grace herself posted a comment thanking everyone for her support: “Thank you so so much for your donations you don’t know what this means to me. Thank you for helping me save my life.” The brave youngster cannot sit for more than a couple of hours, but the flight to Procure center in Oklahoma takes ten hours, so extra money is needed to ensure Grace has the most comfortable surroundings during the journey. To make things worse, the NHS will only pay for Grace’s treatment and travel along with her parents, leaving her parents having to pay for her 5-year-old sister Olivia’s flights and living costs. If extra money is raised, it will go to the charity “Forward Facing”, which seeks to give children with long-term conditions creative and fun activities to do. To donate, go to https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/d-walker-1.