Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is giving hope to patients battling against cancer.
MOTHER RECEIVING PROTON THERAPY
Hauli Gray, a mother from Oklahoma who has been fighting breast cancer for almost a year, has recently received a bit of good news, as the ProCure Proton Therapy Center has decided to cover the costs of her specialist treatment.
Hauli has already undergone multiple treatments, including surgery. “Not only did I lose a breast, that’s a part of me that’s gone forever. And, it’s trying to get over that. You almost want to feel shame because it was like you were whole and now you’re not,” she said. She now needs radiation therapy to complete her treatment. Her doctors feel that proton therapy is the only real option for her, because her cancer is so close to her heart and they fear traditional radiation would put her healthy organs in danger. Hauli was supposed to start her proton treatments six weeks after her surgery, with each day that passed putting her more at risk, but her health insurance denied her claim for the treatment multiple times. Fortunately, Hauli recently received a bit of good news, as she learned last week that ProCure Proton Therapy Center will generously cover the costs of her treatment. She is expected to start treatment early this week.
Denise was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 after she felt a painful lump on the lower part of her collarbone. Doctors initially told her it was just a swollen lymph node, but she knew there was something more to her pain.
After many requests, her doctor completed a biopsy of the lymph node, followed by PET scans, which ultimately revealed breast cancer. The treatment included a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Determined to beat cancer, Denise became her own advocate putting her lawyer skills to test. She questioned her doctor as to why her breast cancer was classified as stage 4 and not stage 3. “I argued as to why I was not Stage 3. The doctor explained that they don’t use the word ‘cure’ when treating Stage 4. I told him my cancer would be cured, therefore, my cancer is Stage 3,” Denise said with a laugh. “After they found the tumor, I began chemotherapy which lasted for 6 months, followed by a double mastectomy,” she said. Then, her radiation oncologist initiated the final phase of Denise’s treatment plan, and recommended a combination of traditional radiation for her chest wall followed by proton therapy. As proton therapy exposes less radiation to the heart, lungs, bone and healthy tissue, breast cancer patients have a lower risk of potential side effects such as heart disease or reduced lung function. As a result, Denise was able to maintain her quality of life during treatment and continue working. She completed a total of 7 treatments over the course of 7 days. Today, she is busy going to her 14-year-old son’s baseball and soccer games.
MOTHER BEATING CANCER WITH PT
Mary Alston, a mother from Wisconsin, said she feels almost back to normal after beating cancer with proton therapy. But she didn’t learn about the diagnosis, until it was almost too late.
When her depression started to worsen, Mary’s doctor changed her medication and increased the dosage. As nothing helped, Mary decided to take her own life on Christmas Eve. “I was just like nobody should have to put up with this, and that’s when I decided I was going to take some pills,” she said. Her daughter knew something was up and called police to find her and take her to the hospital. She woke up the day after Christmas and found out she had brain cancer after a doctor did a CT scan. She underwent surgery the next day to remove the tumor. Its location explained all her symptoms of depression and mood swings. A few weeks after the surgery, she received proton therapy, a very precise form of radiation. Her treatment lasted 6 weeks, and as of April 16, she was cancer-free. She now feels almost back to normal and is very grateful. “I’m grateful that my daughter called police. I’m grateful that that doctor ran that scan and I’m grateful to be here today,” Mary said. Given the second chance, she has a new view of life and she wants to use her journey to help others. “I’m hoping that my story will help someone else that is going through anything similar,” she said.