Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is giving patients from all over the world the opportunity to reach their full potential.
RAISING FUNDS FOR LITTLE JOSEPHINE
When 2-year-old Josephine Seymour suddenly started being sick last November, her parents thought the toddler just had a stomach bug, but the reality was much worse.
Josephine was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor after 4 weeks of relentless vomiting in November last year. She was tested for everything from gastritis to constipation and a urinary infection but doctors could not find the source of her illness. Her parents were told their daughter needed an MRI after her sickness persisted. Three days before Christmas scans revealed Josephine had an orange-sized brain tumor called anaplastic ependymoma, a rare type of tumor that is more common in children. She underwent a 7-hour operation on 29 December but only 85% of the tumor could be removed. The rest, which had formed around critical neurovascular structures made up of nerves, vascular veins, lymph vessels and arteries, would need to be removed using radiation treatment. But radiation comes with added risks because of Josephine’s age and growing brain, so her parents Andrew and Penny researched alternative options and discovered proton therapy that targets only the tumor and spares surrounding healthy tissue. They now hope to raise £88,000 to take Josephine to a specialist proton therapy center in Essen, Germany. They have already raised nearly half their target after starting a Go Fund Me page a month ago. “Most of our donations have come from strangers. We’ve been amazed by people’s generosity,” Andrew said.
HEADING TO CARNEGIE HALL AFTER CANCER
Paul John Stanbery is a composer and the conductor of the Butler Philharmonic. For him, getting to Carnegie Hall, the most famous concert venue in New York, has involved more than just practice. First, he had to beat cancer.
Earlier this year, Paul learned he had maxillofacial cancer, which meant weeks of chemotherapy, radiation and proton therapy. During treatments at UC Health Proton Therapy Center in Liberty Township, medical technicians asked what he did for a living and discovered his recordings on Spotify. As a surprise one day, they played over the loudspeakers his 2016 composition, “I, Maximilian.” “When I got off the table, all five of the techs were red-eyed, and wanted to know about the piece,” he said. With his music still soaring, he explained it was about Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest who took the place of another prisoner to die at Auschwitz. By now, tears were flowing. Paul was touched that they were moved by his music – “every composer’s dream.” Now, he’s honored to appear in America’s most prestigious concert hall as the music director of the Butler Philharmonic. “Conducting your own music in Carnegie Hall, surrounded by your family after having beaten cancer – it just doesn’t get any better than that,” he said. Paul will conduct his “Music for Mass” with his 40-member Butler Philharmonic Chorus on June 17 at New York’s legendary hall. As for cancer, his motto is to “live an undefeated life.” “That doesn’t mean that you won’t be scored upon – just never beaten,” said the maestro.
BEATING ASTROCYTOMA BEFORE GRADUATION
This is the story of Jordan Murdoch, a young student from Arkansas who fought against astrocytoma during his final year of pharmacy school. Discover his testimony as a cancer survivor.
“I had just started my final year of pharmacy school when a mass was found through an MRI performed for non-related reasons. In April of 2016, my neurologist decided it was time to remove the tumor before symptoms started presenting themselves. During this time, my focus was to complete pharmacy school, so I took the exams and underwent surgery 7 days later. My biopsy results came in and doctors informed me I had grade II astrocytoma. In November 2016, an MRI revealed a small piece of the original tumor was hiding in the inflammation from the surgery, and I was referred to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. A group of doctors discussed my case reviewing my diagnosis, my risks of a second surgery and going straight to radiation. It was decided that my best course of action would be proton therapy. Proton therapy is not offered in Arkansas so I soon learned I would need to relocate to Houston for 6 weeks of treatment. In October of 2017, I entered the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center to begin my first treatment. It was a very emotional and terrifying day but everyone there was spectacular not to mention the ProtonPals support group. I joined their gatherings and immediately felt comfortable when I heard all their stories. I completed my treatments in November of 2017, returned home and soon began chemotherapy. I am currently doing well, working as a pharmacist and halfway through my chemo treatments. This experience has taught me to embrace life and live it each day to the fullest. I recently completed a 50-mile bike ride. A week later, I completed my first triathlon event finishing first place in my age group. I am leaving next week for a trip to Greece with my girlfriend Emily who has been by my side through this entire journey.