Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping young cancer sufferers through their illness and giving hope to their families.
BRAVE BOY UNDERGOES 10-HOUR SURGERY
George Woodall, a 4-year-old from Redhill in England, was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer in November. He underwent a risky 10-hour operation last Thursday to remove the tumor placed near the base of his spine.
The operation has left George with a hole in his back and very vulnerable to infections that could be fatal in his weakened condition, but he appears to be recovering. He is likely to require a wheelchair for the next few years while he recovers his ability to walk. However he is expected to develop scoliosis due to part of his spine being removed in the procedure. “In order to remove all areas the tumour had reached, allowing enough margin of healthy tissue to also be removed, the surgeons had to prize away other critical nerve endings and ended up taking out two and a half muscles surrounding it”, his mom Vicky said. George now has no muscular cushion between his kidney and his bowels. He also has no muscular cushion between his kidney and his skin. He will remain very vulnerable in that area for the next two years at least. When he is strong enough, the Woodall family are due to move to the USA for 10-12 weeks while George receives proton therapy treatment across the Atlantic, and continue the journey to being cancer-free. For now he plays with a toy helicopter in his hospital bed. The remarkable youngster, whose battle has inspired people to raise more than £380,000 for children’s cancer care, still manages to smile.
PRAISING SUPPORT FOR YOUNG CANCER SUFFERER
Friends and family of Esther Greene, a brave 18-year-old from England currently fighting back against cancer for the fourth time, have praised the overwhelming support of fundraisers.
Esther was first diagnosed when she was just 3 years old, but responded to the treatment and was given the all clear. But by the age of five, the cancer returned, with Esther suffering tumors in her spine. Despite heavy damage to her spine, she fought back again and remained cancer free for 10 years. Her family thought the worst was over but unfortunately it was not to be. While undertaking a scan before an operation on her spine, doctors found the cancer had returned for a third time when Esther had just turned 16. After a tough 12 weeks of proton therapy in America, Esther was once again given the all clear. But around a month ago, Esther received the devastating news the cancer had returned for a fourth time. Esther is currently completing her A-levels at Colchester County High School for Girls and her harrowing situation has not stopped her from getting a conditional offer to study at Cambridge University. Her courage has inspired support from hundreds of people. Her 19-year-old best friend Helena said: “The prognosis isn’t good, but Esther has kicked this disease’s ugly butt three times already. Esther is insane. Not once has she complained or questioned ‘Why me?’ Putting others before herself, she has been relentless in the past month – in fact, all of the time. She is kind-hearted, caring, funny and the most thoughtful person I know.”
CONQUERING CANCER COMPLICATIONS
Abby Peterson, a young high school girl, began to experience debilitating migraines during spring of her freshman year. She was ultimately diagnosed with AT/RT, a rare type of cancer that occurs predominantly in children under three.
Abby’s headaches led to 2 months of doctor visits, until a CT scan was suggested. “All of a sudden, I had a huge tumor,” Abby said about the lemon-size tumor located near the left side of her skull called Atypical Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT). It is known to be extremely aggressive, so much so that it is not rated in stages. But there was no time to let the news sink in. The next morning at 7 a.m. Abby was in pre-op to have the tumor removed. The operation was a success, but the journey was far from over. She had 8 excruciating months of radiation and chemotherapy ahead of her. The treatments used to save Peterson were equally as aggressive as the cancer. The chemotherapy and radiation were in high dosages, three stem cell transplants were required and she also underwent proton therapy. Her treatments were completed in August 2015, but Abby wasn’t out of the woods yet, as residual radiation damage came up. One day she lost the function of her right hand, and shortly after, her foot. Delays in speech and other cognitive motor skills were soon realized, and the game plan shifted from recovery to discovery of potentially life-altering damages. In May 2016, Peterson underwent a laser procedure at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Care Therapy Center to scar her brain tissue to decrease swelling. But Abby’s story isn’t one of pity, it is of perseverance. She taught herself to become left-handed “almost overnight” and all the while has engaged in keeping up with classes online. “It was amazing to see the outpouring of love and support,” her mom said. “Never give up,” said Abby, mentioning her senior yearbook quote.