Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping patients of all ages and all parts of the world take back control of their life.
BRAIN CANCER BOY GETS SURPRISE FROM POLICE
Jake Honig, a 7-year-old boy from New Jersey who has been fighting cancer since he was 2, has earned his own place in the Howell Townwhip police force, who surprised him with his own motorcycle and more.
Jake has been battling Ewing sarcoma since he was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 2. He was treated with surgery, chemotherapy and proton therapy and completed treatment when he was 3 years old. He has been in remission since. He has long been fascinated with the police according to Howell Township Police Chief Andrew J. Kudrick. Last year, he visited the Howell police department, received a tour and went in a ride-along in a patrol car. “He’s a huge fan of the police,” Kudrick said. “This year, we decided to visit him.” So last weekend, the police department rolled up to Jake’s home, bringing an armored vehicle and full sirens going as they arrived. Jake’s nickname is “The Tank,” resulting from the strength with which he has fought cancer. “He truly is an inspiration to all of us,” Kudrick said. “I’m sure he has positively impacted more people in the past 5 years than most adults do in their entire life.” The chief said there’s also an application for the police for set aside for Jake when he grows up.
SCHOOL PRINCIPAL FIGHTING BRAIN TUMOR
Kyle Wetherhold, a 51-year-old father of five and principal at Wilson West Middle School in the USA, was just diagnosed with brain cancer. It was another shock to learn that insurance would not pay for expensive and promising proton therapy.
Last month, Kyle learned he had a cancerous brain tumor. He underwent brain surgery, but doctors were only able to remove 90% of it and wanted to treat the remaining 10% as soon as possible with proton therapy. “It’s the most effective therapy out there,” said Kyle. “It’s not recommended for every tumor, but it is for this kind of tumor. Most insurance companies don’t pay for it because it is still in the clinical phase, although it has been around for decades.” Kyle has an insurance advocate negotiating with the insurance company. “The problem is it’s a delay in treatment every time you go back and forth with insurance,” Kyle said. It means the family must come up with $170,000 to pay for the procedure. A GoFundMe website was started to help raise the money, and as of Saturday morning, it had collected nearly $145,000. “It’s surreal,” he said. “It humbles me every time I look at it. I’m blessed to have touched so many students. They are now reaching out and giving back.” Since his diagnosis, he has loved hearing from many people who have passed through his life and are now reconnecting with him. The family needed $72,000 for a down payment on the procedure. Now that they have it, Wetherhold is scheduled for his first treatment June 26. He hopes his story will clear the way for more people to get proton therapy when needed.
PATIENT CURED OF INOPERABLE BOWEL CANCER
Eric Day, a 79-year-old former dentist from Andover in Britain, was just given the all-clear after he travelled abroad for proton therapy to treat an inoperable secondary tumor.
Eric first developed bowel cancer in 2012, which was at the time treated successfully with surgery and chemotherapy. But last August, he learned that he had developed a secondary tumor in the lumbar region anterior to his spine, the size of a small orange. Because of the severe risk of damage to nearby vital organs, surgery, chemotherapy or traditional radiotherapy were not realistic treatment options. The only choice left available to Eric was palliative treatment to relieve his constant pain. But he refused to accept the prognosis and instead began researching alternatives, which took him to the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic. Eric had 24 fractions of proton therapy as an outpatient, which was carried out each morning. “The process was painless and done in just a few minutes each time, so the rest of the day we were free to explore the beautiful city of Prague,” he said. Following scans in May this year, Eric says he’s ecstatic to have been given the all clear while revealing he’s also now completely pain free. “It’s four months since I took so much as a single paracetamol tablet,” he said. “I am pain free, eating properly again and have regained the lost weight. My ability to do things has returned to normal. My oncologist has seen me again to give the result of a recent PET scan, which shows that the tumor has disappeared and there was no spread anywhere else. He said this was a ‘fantastic response’ and only routine monitoring would be needed for now.” Eric said he hopes his story will encourage doctors to take more of an interest in proton therapy.