Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping patients from all over the world in their fight against cancer.
MOM SET TO HEAD TO THE US FOR PROTON THERAPY
Linda Halliday, a 33-year-old Scots mom-of-two with a very rare type of cancerous tumor in her spinal cord, is set to head to the US for life-saving treatment after her best friend and kind-hearted folk managed to raise over £17,000 in just one week.
Linda has been diagnosed with a very rare type of cancerous tumor deep within her spinal cord, which has been pressing on nerves, affecting the bowel, bladder, and lower limbs. After putting her through extensive treatment, doctors in the UK were fearful about operating too deep and risking full paralysis. Specialists decided that proton therapy was the best option for Linda as it would cause the least damage. However, as the treatment is not available in the UK, she was told she would need to head to Jacksonville in Florida. That’s when her best friend Grace stepped in to help and launched a GoFundMe page: “The NHS will fund Linda to go for this treatment, but she would love to be able to take her husband and young children with her too as it is a long time to be apart. The money raised will help to get them out to America with Linda, assist with the family’s general living expenses, and aid Linda’s recovery.” Insisting how any leftover money will be used to support other cancer charities, the story touched so many people, that a staggering £17,515 has, so far, been raised. Linda said: “I’m so lucky to have such an amazing support network of family and friends and I hope that this raises awareness for such rare cancers and cancer in young people.”
ELLIOT FIGHTING A BRAIN TUMOR
Elliot is an 8-year-old boy who was diagnosed with a recurring brain tumor after he started having seizures many times a day for several months.
Elliot was diagnosed a year ago with a benign brain tumor and had several surgeries to remove it. Unfortunately, even if the tumor is classified as benign, it keeps growing back and is acting very aggressively. Elliot underwent his last surgery in March, after which his doctors decided to gear up the fight with both chemotherapy and proton therapy treatments, which allows for potentially higher doses of radiation to target cancerous cells, with less damage to surrounding healthy tissues than conventional radiation therapy. As proton therapy is not yet available in Michigan, Elliot is currently traveling from Michigan to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. His grandmother said: “He is an incredibly brave little boy. He has been so resilient after the surgeries and after he finally stopped having seizures. He has to deal with some depression and mood swings as an after effect of the surgery but is so incredible. He has returned to school each time and has had to recover ground lost after each surgery but has done it with an incredible grace and has been amazingly upbeat and positive for anyone, much less an 8 year old.” Elliot’s family has been under a lot of stress for the last year and have been trying to shoulder the financial burden of the uninsured costs, but they have become overwhelmed with the addition of the travel to the Mayo clinic. His grandmother has set up a GoFundMe page to help them cover it, along with the co-pays, the uninsured portion and the travel expenses.
SURVIVING CANCER THANKS TO PT
“The most astounding part of my cancer story might be that I’m still alive to tell it.” Find out about Catherine McBurney’s story, a cancer survivor from Lakeway and patient advocate for the Alliance for Proton Therapy Access.
“For nearly 10 years, doctors misdiagnosed my persistent jaw pain and trismus as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ. Until I woke up one evening with such excruciating, stabbing pain in my face. An immediate appointment with a neurologist led to an MRI and subsequent biopsy. The results came back quickly and were as severe as my physical discomfort: I had Stage IV adenoid cystic carcinoma, an extremely rare head and neck cancer. It was advanced and inoperable, and traditional radiation and chemotherapy had proven ineffective in similar cases. My diagnosis, as grim as it was, came with a single ray of hope. I was led to MD Anderson Cancer Center, where my medical team explained that proton therapy had offered limited success in treating my type of rare cancer. Though it might not cure me, it would hopefully shrink the tumor enough so I could survive and live a more comfortable life. Under the expert care of my physicians at MD Anderson, I began proton treatment without delay. Miraculously, today I am cancer free. Proton therapy killed a cancer that should have killed me. A few residual-yet-bearable side effects are a small price to pay for survival. I hope my story will help inspire health insurance companies and lawmakers to expand proton therapy coverage when it’s the best treatment option for cancer patients who may have no other options for survival. Lives depend on it. Mine did.”