Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is giving hope and helping young people make new life projects.
EXAMS SUCCESS FOR TUMOR SURVIVOR
16-year-old Ben Anderson, who did his exams revision while being treated by proton therapy in the U.S. for a brain tumor, is now celebrating after getting the GCSE (general certificate of secondary education) he feared he would never achieve.
Before his diagnosis in August 2013, Ben had been sick every morning for several years, and had suffered from many headaches, which doctors just assumed to be migraines. It was only after a chance visit to an optician that he was referred for an MRI scan. Although not cancerous, the location of his tumor in the brain stem meant it couldn’t be fully removed. His surgery relieved the pressure on his brain and the symptoms, but at the end of last year, doctors told him he needed proton therapy, as his tumor had begun growing again. After flying out to Oklahoma in January, he would go into hospital for short periods each day and then hit the books in his hotel room. Ben returned home in late April, four weeks before sitting his first exam.”I got back on the Tuesday and was back in school on the Thursday. I’d started to get tired by then and would sleep after school. I lost my appetite as well. But I got through it and the treatment seems to have been successful. The tumor will always be there and I still have some problems, such as my hand shaking if I carry a drink, but I’m finding things all right,” he said. Ben has now achieved eight GCSEs. His success is all the more remarkable as he was forced to miss a term of his courses following the tumor diagnosis in August 2013.
TEEN GETS CLEARED OF CANCER AFTER TREATMENT IN THE USA
Bryoni Millar, 19-year-old British teenager from Kent, has been cleared of brain cancer a year after a campaign backed by the Dover Mercury paper raised enough cash to send her to the United States for life-saving treatment.
Bryoni spent more than 10 weeks in Jacksonville, Florida, undergoing proton therapy, which dispersed the last of a tumor that had been growing for six years. She was found unconscious in bed by her grandma in July 2013 when visiting her in Ireland. Surgeons had to operate fast to remove a large tumor surrounding her brain stem, but a tiny piece was left because its close proximity to her spinal chord meant the risks of an operation were deemed too high. Bryoni’s mother made a plea for help through the Dover Mercury last August, and donations flooded in, exceeding £2,000, to help with living expenses for Bryoni and her grandma. Her mom said: “We had no idea how we were going to do it. We were ready to sell our car and half the house to raise it. You do anything for your children, but I still can’t believe the community support we had.” Bryoni returned from her treatment in October, but has only just been given the all clear. She still has a residual tumor that has to be monitored by scans every six months, despite it being very small. “It could grow back at any time, but for now she’s out of the woods and doing great”, Bryoni’s mom said.
CANCER FIGHTER WINS DREAM WEDDING
Bethany Davidson and her fiancé, Caleb Hanby, who was diagnosed last year with a rare tumor, are planning their dream wedding thanks to a radio station contest.
The pair officially began dating in August 2014, and in September, Hanby began experiencing some pain in a tooth in his lower left jaw. He went to the doctor, who initially diagnosed him with TMJ. In October, however, his diagnosis was changed to alveorlar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that primarily manifests itself in children. Doctors initially called for 42 weeks of chemotherapy, but after his first round of chemotherapy and radiation, Caleb got extremely sick from the radiation treatments. The couple went to New York City in July for a second opinion, and several weeks later, Hanby started proton therapy. Bethany said she never realized how difficult it would be, but she also didn’t realize how close it would bring them together. Since the diagnosis, all of the couple’s money has since been spent on medical care, bills, gas to drive to the hospital and groceries. Even though Bethany works two jobs, they still have more bills than they can pay. Last August, they received a call to learn they were selected out of nearly 7,500 contestants to win a $100,000 wedding. “This experience is going to bring so much joy to both of us,” Bethany said, but added, “It’s hard to be fully excited about everything. The big matter at hand is still that Caleb is sick.”