Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is giving a shot at life to children from all over the world.
6 YEAR OLD RESCUED FROM BRAIN CANCER
When young Erin Birdsey walked into an optician’s office last July, her mom’s biggest concern was how she would persuade her that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if she needed glasses.
When Erin started complaining of headaches and feeling sick, her GP sent her to an ophthalmologist to have her eyes checked. The doctor noticed that one eye looked inflamed as something was pressing against it, and sent Erin straight to the hospital. Within 24h she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had a 10-hour surgery to remove it. Biopsy results and an MRI scan a week later revealed a grade 2 ependymoma, a type of cancer of the cells that line fluid-filled spaces in the brain and the spinal cord. Only half of children diagnosed with it live for more than five years.
To remove any tiny cancer cells remaining, the oncology team thought she should be put forward for proton beam therapy. To her parents’ overwhelming relief, Erin’s application was approved and a week later, in September last year, they were on a plane to Florida. Six months into her treatment, she is now back to school with few signs of what she has been through. Erin has just celebrated her seventh birthday and her first scan came back clear.
GRANDMOTHER’S DAREDEVIL DESCENT FOR BRAIN TUMOR CHARITY
Daphne Llewellyn, 66, has abseiled down the side of Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower, UK, which stands more than 300 feet tall, and clocked the fastest descent of the day.
It is not the first daring stunt the British gran has completed. Last year, she also completed a skydive. The daredevil pensioner abseiled down Portmouth’s landmark tower along with 40 other people in a challenge to raise funds for the pioneering UK charity, Brain Tumor Research. Daphne’s granddaughter, Holly Davies-Timbrell, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in June 2009 at the University Hospital of Wales. Daphne said: “Holly is now 19 and about to start her first proper job in the print and design department at the hospital where she is being treated, although she faces surgery to drain a cyst in her brain. She may also undergo proton beam therapy later in the year to shrink the tumor, which was shown to be growing on her latest MRI scan.” Daphne and her family have already raised £30,000 for Brain Tumor Research.
BRAVE BABY LEO FLYING OUT TO AMERICA FOR PT
Brave Leo Burton from England, 8 months old, is on his way to America to begin nearly three months of potentially life-saving treatment, as he is battling an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer in his bladder.
Leo was just 4 months old when his parents discovered a blood clot in his diaper. Following numerous tests, he was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. After bouts of chemotherapy, Leo’s best hope for a cure is specialist radiotherapy, not yet available in his country. He will thus undergo 30 sessions of proton therapy in America, each requiring a general anesthetic, as well as additional chemotherapy sessions. Although Leo’s treatment will be funded by the NHS (£120.000), his family needs additional £6.500 to cover the cost of their stay in America. They launched a fundraising campaign called “Hands on for Leo” last month and reached their target within 24h. The fund has now reached nearly £24.000, and they want to use the campaign to support all the charities that are helping them. Back in the UK, Leo will undergo more chemotherapy and will be monitored regularly to see if the treatment has worked. He will also be assessed to see what impact the treatment has had on his fragile body and will eventually need surgery to replace his bladder. To make a donation visit www.gofundme.com/handsonforleo