Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping cancer kids in their battle against cancer, and their family to speak out during the Childhood Cancer Awareness month.
TEEN ON CHARITY RUN AFTER BEATING CANCER
Sam Varnam, a 17-year-old teen from Codnor in the UK, is taking on a 10-km obstacle course this month to raise funds for the charity that helped him through his cancer treatment.
In February 2017, Sam was diagnosed with olfactory neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nasal cavity. He spent most of last year in hospital for chemotherapy and surgery before flying to Florida for proton beam therapy, all while doing his GCSEs at Heanor Gate Science College. Now working towards A-levels in media and psychology, Sam said: “It was a tough time for my whole family. We were worried, scared and didn’t know where to go when I was first diagnosed. “Then a friendly face approached us, a Teenage Cancer Trust support worker called Bex. She eased us into the whole process, calmed us down and made the hospital feel more like home.” Sam will run in the Wild Warrior event near Brailsford on Saturday, September 22, in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. It will mark the latest step in his recovery. Now in remission, Sam said: “Before I was diagnosed I was an outgoing, active sporty person and now I have finished my treatment I have reprised that role. I’ve always wanted to run an obstacle course, and after this shock to the system I have finally decided to do it.” He added: “It’s a brilliant opportunity to help give back to the charity that helped me out so much, so they can give the attention and care they gave me to every other teenager with cancer in the UK.”
SECOND BRAIN TUMOR BATTLE
Jaxon Dugger, an 8-year-old boy from Oklahoma who is battling a brain tumor for the second time, is still smiling despite the pain he’s endured since he was a toddler.
Jaxon was diagnosed when he was only two, after his parents noticed he was having trouble walking and he started falling. An MRI revealed a rare and dangerous brain tumor pressing on the part of his brain that controls motor functions, and further tests confirmed it was Ewing’s Sarcoma. For Jaxon, that meant surgery to remove the tumor followed by some of the strongest chemotherapy medications available. On top of that, he received 31 rounds of proton radiation at ProCure Proton Therapy Center. Jaxon experienced some of the harshest reactions to his treatment. He ballooned to three times his normal weight despite losing his appetite and finding it impossible to eat. He ended up in rehabilitation, learning to walk again, but even after all of that, Jaxon was still smiling. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last bad news he and his family would receive. In 2015, an MRI revealed his tumor had returned and he’s been fighting it ever since. “He thinks and believes that this is something we can keep fighting, that he will eventually be cured,” said his doctor, shaking her head in amazement. His mom J’Cinda recalls the news the tumor had returned, “He said ‘Mom, don’t cry! I’ll beat it again!’” We could all learn something about love, endurance and hope from Jaxon.
SPREADING AWARENESS ABOUT CHILDHOOD CANCER
The Lewis family from Fort Meade, Maryland, is spreading awareness about childhood cancer, after they received the news that their son Thomas was suffering from a brain tumor when he was only 6 years old.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, putting a spotlight on a disease that affects so many lives: each day 43 families in the US will receive the devastating news that their child has cancer. On March 28th, 2016, Amber and Derek Lewis took their son to the doctor after he had been complaining about headaches. They found a large mass in his brain and Thomas was diagnosed with a desmoplastic round cell tumor, a rare form of cancer that is usually found in the abdomen. From there Thomas’ battle with cancer began. “I had to go to the hospital,” he recalls. “Sometimes I had to go for two days or three.” After several rounds of chemotherapy and proton therapy, there was no evidence of the disease. And the Lewis family is holding on to every precious moment they can spend together. To help spread awareness, the Lewis family is going gold. They are participating in the Million Mile, a national challenge to walk, run or ride a million miles during the month of September hoping to help raise money to help other families and to help spread awareness that unfortunately, this could happen to anyone. The Million Mile is the largest childhood cancer awareness challenge in the nation. The money raised helps fund researchers so they can find better treatments and more cures for kids battling cancer.