Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is offering new treatment options and giving young cancer patients a chance at life.
PROTON THERAPY FOR HAWAIIAN 8-YEAR-OLD
Auriana Charbonneau, an 8-year-old girl from Honokaa, Hawaii who’s been fighting a brain tumor and travelled to Michigan for proton therapy over the summer, just completed her last session earlier this month.
At 2 years old, Auriana underwent surgery to remove a tumor that caused headaches and loss of vision in her left eye. Due to its location, doctors felt additional surgery was no longer viable, fearing neurological damage or death. Ten months prior to her treatment in Michigan, an MRI scan showed her tumor was growing. After her parents and doctors researched options, the 8-year-old was brought to Royal Oak, where she spent six weeks being treated with proton therapy, more than 4,000 miles away from home. Her prognosis is positive according to her doctor at Beaumont: “Her future, decades down the road, looks bright. For an 8 year old, she really is an amazing patient. I was so impressed by her maturity, attitude and courage,” she said. 28 treatments later, her father Matthew, who lived in Oakland County until he was 6 years old, said the decision to bring Auriana to Beaumont was “all worth it.” “Auriana got to know most everybody at the Proton Therapy Center, the staff and medical team,” he said. He added the visit was a chance to show his wife, son and three daughters his roots in Metro Detroit.
HELPING BOY GET PROTON THERAPY TREATMENT
A Norfolk business has set a fundraising target of £1500 to help a family hold a Christmas event to raise funds for their son’s treatment.
Harry Addy, from Rivermead, Stalham, has a spinal cord tumor and his family need to raise £70,000 for specialist Proton therapy treatment overseas, as it’s not available on the NHS. They have already raised £23,000. The seven-year-old had an operation to remove the tumor and now has leptomeningeal disease in the center of his brain. Doctors have suggested he has radiotherapy treatment in the UK, but his parents Jamie and Melanie Addy feel he’s too young and want him to undergo less invasive treatment in Germany. A spokesman for Stalham’s Daddy Donuts dessert parlour said: “We are helping Harry’s family to hold an event this Christmas to help raise funds for his treatment. The £1,500 will help promote it and go towards catering and decorations.” If you wish to help Harry, please visit his Just Giving page on www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/daddydonuts.
SOCCER PLAYER AND CANCER FREE
After winning a protracted and gruelling 2-year battle with brain cancer, 16-year-old Ben Lepisto has made a triumphant return to the soccer field, understandably as a different player than the one he was before being diagnosed.
Ben was diagnosed in March 2016 with stage IV brain cancer after he experienced sporadic headaches, nausea, lethargy, fatigue and uncharacteristic irritability. Doctors placed a shunt in his brain to alleviate swelling and removed his tumor during a seven-7 surgery. A gruelling regimen of targeted proton radiation therapy and aggressive chemotherapy followed. Now cancer free, Ben has to deal with the damage the cancer caused: he can sometimes slur his speech, be forgetful, become confused or have difficulty with his balance. “It’s difficult for us to see how he was compared to now, but he’s getting there and doing the best he can and he’s trying to keep up with his peers, which I think is really important,” his mom said. Ben, who has played soccer for nearly a decade and showed promise 4 years ago on the high school’s freshman team, worked tirelessly to position himself to return to the pitch following multiple surgeries and after enduring countless rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. “I can’t do most of the stuff I did when I was younger,” Ben said. “I’m not the biggest kid on the field anymore, nor one of the fastest. I’m just another kid out there, and that’s been kind of frustrating in a sense, but it’s really nice to play again. This is what I need in my life, I need to be out there with my friends competing.” The Woodbridge school-community looks upon Ben as a hero during every month of the academic year, but his presence in the building has added meaning in September, which is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.