Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping children with cancer overcome life-threatening challenges.
HEADING TO HIGH SCHOOL AFTER CANCER
Audrey Anderson, a 12-year-old girl from Australia who was diagnosed with a tumor at the center of her brain when she was only 5, is now a healthy young girl heading to high school next year.
When doctors found a tumor in Audrey’s brain, her mother Sue says it flipped their family’s perspective of life on its head. Their daughter would die if the tumor was left untreated, but her age and the cancer’s location meant that it would be a particularly fragile operation. “We had to pursue some safe-as-possible options to try and make sure that we could preserve her life as much as possible,” Sue’s mom said. They opted to have Audrey treated overseas using proton therapy. While the treatment is not yet available in Australia, it was the best option to minimize any long-term effects on Audrey’s health. “For young children’s brains it’s a much safer form of treatment,” Sue said. Audrey received treatments for 11 months, from March 2011 to February 2012 with the help of Kids’ Cancer Project, who gave the family an extra boost to stay strong. It’s 7 years on from Audrey’s diagnosis and her mom says she’s now a healthy 12-year-old heading into high school next year, which is a “big achievement”. Ms Anderson herself sits on the board of The Kids’ Cancer Project, which co-hosted an event at the Sydney Opera House to launch the first day of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. “It’s about honoring children who have been diagnosed with cancer, children being treated and those who have sadly passed away,” she said.
RAISING £160,000 TO #BACKBILLY
Billy is 15-year-old young man who is fighting cancer for the third time in his life. His uncle is telling his story in the hope to raise £160.000 to fund proton therapy and treat his rare form of cancer.
“Billy is a fighter. He’s already a walking miracle because he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia when he was a small baby. Less than two years after treatment, the cancer returned and he underwent further chemo, radiotherapy, complex treatments and a bone marrow transplant using stem cells. Against all odds, Billy started school at 5 years old and hasn’t looked back. After they had been living by the hospital for so long, my sister and her family returned to normality, determined to put this horrendous ordeal behind them. So, we are devastated that only 10 years later another very different battle has begun as the aggressive treatment that saved his life has now caused another rare type of cancer: chondroblastic osteosarcoma in his face and eye socket. Specialist proton therapy in America is his only option for a cure. Please back Billy. It is his big chance to stop the tumor in its tracks, either by making it benign or small enough for specialist surgery to take place. His life is in front of him. Billy has beaten cancer before. Please help him to do it again.”
FUNDRAISER TO HELP SON BATTLE CANCER
Jacob Willett, a 22-month-old boy, was diagnosed with pelvic embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma in March. His parents are fundraising to help their son’s battle against this rare form of cancer.
In response to the cancer diagnosis, Jacob’s parents Mark and Ness Willett went on a fundraising drive to help support others in a similar position. But a change in the direction of Jacob’s treatment has meant the couple’s fundraising efforts have had to start all over again. Mark explained: “Jacob was approved to travel to Florida for NHS-funded proton beam therapy in May, but the treatment was cancelled the day before we were due to fly out. Jacob had been undergoing chemotherapy, and after 4 rounds of treatment he had a scan to see how the tumor was responding. The scan showed a 20% growth instead of any shrinkage. Everyone was shocked, including our consultant, who then explained that our treatment in Florida had to be cancelled as the tumor was now too big.” Immediately after the cancellation, the couple began to fundraise again in the hope of funding the costly proton beam therapy themselves. However, Mark and Ness found out soon after that proton beam therapy was unlikely to be an option at all. With surgery also being ruled out due to the size and delicate location of the tumor, a course of radiotherapy was the only real option left. Jacob completed his radiotherapy at the end of August, after 28 doses under general anaesthetic every weekday morning. His chemo schedule continued alongside that treatment, with eight cycles completed in total. The family are now spending some much needed time at home, and waiting to see what comes next.