Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is offering hopeful alternatives to cancer patients from all around the world.
PRAYERS ANSWERED FOR LITTLE EVIE
Evie Hughes, a 7-year-old schoolgirl from Wales in the UK who underwent brain surgery and months of pioneering treatment in America, has just returned home after being told her tumor has been successfully treated.
Evie was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma, a rare type of brain tumor that was pushing on her optic nerve, after her schoolteacher recommended that she go for an eye test. Her parents soon learned that their daughter needed proton therapy in the US, and managed to raise money thanks to a fundraising page and the generosity of their community. Now Evie has recovered her vision and has returned to Wales in June after enduring months of proton therapy treatments in Florida, a pioneering procedure that was not available in the UK. “We’ve had the best news,” her mother Heather said. “Now that the tumor has been zapped it is not showing signs of activity!”
BECOMING FRIENDS DURING TREATMENT
Paul Horvath and Gene Muenchausen were strangers, but as they waited in the lobby of the Beaumont Proton Therapy Center, it didn’t take long for them to strike up a conversation. Despite some differences, they soon learned about their many similarities.
Paul and Gene are about the same age, 74 and 73. They learned they were at the center to begin their proton therapy for cancer, and that they would conclude their treatments at about the same time. Monday through Friday for 6 weeks, the two met in the lobby, as Paul was being treated for prostate cancer and Gene for squamous cell cancer. Gene had received traditional X-ray treatments for his cancer, along with brachytherapy, and was pleased with his proton treatment plan and his physicians. Paul, a former steel worker, liked that there were few side effects from his proton treatments. “While undergoing therapy, you can maintain normal activities. I went fishing with my son-in-law on the Detroit River. And Gene rode his bike to the Proton Therapy Center most days. He was golfing, too.” Despite being treated for different types of cancer, they often compared their experiences, or as Gene said, “comparing notes.” Paul said he did a lot of research before deciding to make the long trip downstate for proton treatments. “It’s an individual decision. But, for me proton therapy is the way to go. It’s state-of-the-art and high-tech,” he said. Near the end of their proton treatments, both men teamed up to express their thanks and gratitude to the entire staff. The two ceremoniously rang the end-of-treatment bell together. After 6 weeks, the pair celebrated their cancer survivorship and proton therapy experience.
BACK TO WORK RIGHT AFTER PT
Robert Ducan, a 64-year-old bus driver from Hornchurch in England, returned to work the day after he finished a 10-day course of proton therapy in the Czech Republic to treat his prostate cancer.
Robert was diagnosed with prostate cancer last May after he began to feel a more frequent urge to visit the bathroom. He was given a PSA test, which measures the level of prostate-specific antigen in the blood. A high reading can indicate the presence of cancerous cells. “To start with my PSA was 6.1 but before long it had gone up to 8.1,” said Robert. “I was referred to the hospital and by then it was up to 13.1. I went to see a specialist who wanted to cut out my prostate completely.” Concerned about the risks, Robert looked for alternatives and discovered proton therapy. After travelling to Prague for blood tests and a MRI scan, he eventually underwent five fractions of treatment across 10 days. “You hear people in England talking about chemotherapy and other cancer treatments having a really tough, gruelling time, so that’s sort of what you expect. But I actually found proton therapy to be quite relaxing. It didn’t feel like I was having cancer treatment at all. There was no pain whatsoever and I would have my treatments in the morning and then I would spend my afternoons exploring Prague. I couldn’t believe how painless it was.” Robert’s PSA level is now down to 0.1 and he says he feels “much better”. “Being a bus driver is not like sitting at a desk, you can’t just nip to the toilet when you need to. I’ve now found a doctor who knows and understands proton therapy and I’ve just had my one year anniversary since treatment.”