Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is providing new means of fighting cancer and giving hope to many patients worldwide.
BRAVE 2-YEAR-OLD FIGHTING CANCER
Lara Willcox, a brave 2-year-old girl from the UK, is doing well in her incredible fight against a rare brain cancer, and has already received 12 rounds of proton therapy in the US, despite delays caused by a hurricane earlier this month.
Last August, Lara’s doctors discovered she had a grade 3 anaplastic ependymoma in her brain. After a 9-hour operation to remove the tumor, she crossed the Atlantic with her mom Aimee for life-saving proton therapy treatment in Jacksonville, USA. Her mom says she is taking each day in her stride: “Lara’s treatment is going really well but she has started to show signs of tiredness. Taking anaesthetic every day knocks her a bit but she does manage to pick herself up in the afternoon.” Aimee set up a GoFundMe page to cover some of the costs of her and Lara’s trip. Its £5,000 target has been surpassed and Aimee hopes further donations can be passed to charity. During their time in Jacksonville, the city was hit by Hurricane Hermine, and disruption caused by the storm has delayed some of Lara’s treatment. Her family hope they can return to the UK next month. “Coming out here for proton therapy will hopefully mean no chemotherapy but we haven’t been told anything for definite,” Aimee said. “We do know that she will need to have regular MRI scans for the next five or so years as the ependymoma has a high return rate. We are just keeping everything crossed that the proton therapy is the last major hurdle for her.”
EYE DOCTOR FIGHTING BREAST CANCER
Dr. Kimberley Hefner, an optometrist from Oklahoma city, is fighting against breast cancer. As a physician, she was familiar with the emotional and physical toll of a cancer journey, but facing her own diagnosis was a different experience.
Unfortunately, cancer runs in Kimberley’s family, as her grandmother and her aunt also had breast cancer, and her mother passed away at 49 from pancreatic cancer. Kimberley was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer after her doctor found a suspicious mass during a mammogram. “I skipped a year because I got too busy. So when I did go, they definitely did see something suspicious that needed to be biopsied. I never felt anything in a self-exam.” Once she had some time to cope with the diagnosis, she began contacting people who had gone through cancer treatment for referrals and guidance on treatment options. Ultimately, she underwent 16 weeks of chemo and 7 weeks of proton therapy at ProCure Proton Therapy Center, were she was part of a clinical study researching proton application for left-sided breast cancer in women over 50. With a focus on recovery and staying positive, Kimberley made it through her treatments, leaning on her family and faith, and emerged stronger on the other side. Even if she had to slow down during her treatments, she is now back at full capacity treating her own patients: “Now, here I am growing my practice when I was thinking I may not survive.”
HEART PATIENT CHOSES PT TO TREAT LEFT BREAST CANCER
Jami Mitchell is a single mom full of energy and even if a struggle with heart valve disease a few years ago couldn’t temper her spirit, being diagnosed with breast cancer last year was a different story.
Cancer was found after Jami had gone in for a mammogram. “I get a mammogram every year,” she said. “In 2014 it was normal. In 2015, they noticed some calcification.” A biopsy revealed ductal carcinoma. However, because of her heart condition, doctors told her that she could not undergo standard breast cancer treatment such as traditional radiation therapy. Jami called her sister Michelle for help: “Jami had cancer in her left breast, over her heart, and she had a severely deteriorating heart valve. My first call of that day was to ProCure Proton Therapy Cener in Oklahoma City”. Diagnosed in November, Jami’s doctor scheduled surgery before Christma, and proton therapy was to follow. “Regaining confidence and knowing she had an entire team of friends, family and her ProCure specialists on her side was what Jami needed to fight cancer head on”, Michelle said. With treatments behind her, Jami returned to her usual industrious self. Educating other women about breast cancer and breast cancer screening is something she has added to her to-do list.