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.
ON THE ROAD TO HAPPINESS AFTER PT
Kieran Taylor, a 7-year-old youngster from Deeping St Nicholas in England is having life-changing proton therapy in the USA to treat a rare brain tumor called craniopharyngioma, which causes eyesight problems, behavioural changes and slow growth.
Kieran is having proton therapy to destroy cancerous cells in his brain, which are close to a vital blood vessel. He already underwent surgery last May but doctors were only able to remove 95% of the tumor. “Apparently, they didn’t get the whole of the tumor out and it’s touching the main blood vessel in his brain,” his mom said. “Proton therapy will stop the tumor from spreading so that there won’t be any more adverse effects on his sight or blood vessel.” Kieran is now in his second week of proton treatments. The youngster, along with sister, mother and father flew out to the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. It was only made possible by a fundraising appeal that raised well over £10,000 for the family’s medical trip. Kieran’s mom said: “Things have been great and we’re absolutely ecstatic that everybody has been so wonderful to us in getting everything sorted out. Treatments started on Wednesday, June 21, and Kieran has treatment for half an hour a day, Monday to Friday, for 30 days. He’s taking everything in his stride and doesn’t seem to be bothered about anything, except that he has to work on keeping his head still for the treatment.” The family are staying in an accommodation run by the non-profit organization Ronald McDonald House Charity. Kieran’s mom said: “It’s made our lives so much easier so we can concentrate on Kieran without having any worries.”
LOCAL GIRL CONTINUES CANCER RECOVERY
Savannah Marlow, a 5-year-old girl who was diagnosed with a form of cancer called medulloblastoma last year, continues to fight. If she clears each MRI in the next 5 years, she will be 10 years old when she is essentially cured.
The family first noticed something was wrong back in October 2015, when Savannah was losing her balance, having headaches and falling down more often. Savannah was taken to a specialist, and a tumor 4 cm in diameter was discovered on the back of her brain in the cerebellum. She went into surgery the next day to remove the tumor. After the surgery, she underwent proton therapy in Boston for several weeks, and upon returning to Middle Tennessee, she underwent chemotherapy treatment through April. “Her outlook from here out is positive,” said Savannah’s father. “We go to have a cerebrospinal MRI once every three months for the next five years. If she remains clear each time, after five years, she’s basically cured. That’s what we’re believing and looking forward to. Until then, it’s a daily trusting walk of faith.” According to her family, Savannah’s schedule was packed lately: they recently returned from a 26-days Make-A-Wish Foundation trip overseas, Savannah continues in therapy, and July 28, she will turn 6 years old. “Savannah continues to go to therapy, and she is slowly, slowly improving in speech and coordination,” her dad said. The family remains inspired by the support from the community and the generosity of others. For more information about Savannah’s journey, visit facebook.com/savannahsfaith.
PROTON THERAPY AVAILABLE IN THE UK
The UK’s first proton therapy machine will soon be up and running at The Christie Hospital, meaning sick children will get access to urgent treatment without having to travel to the USA.
Soon, families in Greater Manchester won’t have to travel thousands of miles to give their little ones a fighting chance, as the UK’s first proton therapy machine will soon be up and running at The Christie Hospital. The unit, which weighs 90-tonnes, was lowered into place this week. It is the first of its kind in the UK and will be used to treat patients of all ages. It delivers a specialist form of radiotherapy which has been offered to NHS patients overseas in the US and Switzerland. Its arrival at the Withington cancer research center means that from August 2018, NHS patients will receive treatment in the UK for the first time. Youngsters Lucy Thomas and Emma Payton, who received proton treatments overseas and are in recovery, were invited to The Christie to start work to move the cyclotron into position. Their families shared their courageous stories after they were forced to ‘uproot their lives’, and told how the new piece of kit could have helped them in their desperate time of need. Lucy, from Ramsbottom, was just 6 when she was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, and after numerous gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, doctors told her proton therapy was needed, which was only offered thousands of miles away in Oklahoma in the US at the time. Emma Payton, who was just 8 when she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in her cheek, also spent weeks with her family in Oklahoma as she received proton therapy. Her dad Phil said having the same treatment on offer at The Christie was ‘amazing’: “It’s a difficult time. You are already dealing with the fact that your child has cancer, and to have anything that alleviates those worries, is amazing. This is amazing.”