Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping patients from all over the world in their fight against cancer.
SMILING DESPITE BATTLE WITH CANCER
Cade Wegener, a teenager with Down syndrome from Oklahoma City, is already on his second bout with cancer at only 15 years old, but you wouldn’t guess it watching him while he’s waiting for what might be his last radiation treatment.
It all started back in 2015, when Cade started complaining of hip pain. Doctors initially thought he had an infection, but an MRI in October revealed a tumor called “undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma” in his psoas, a muscle that connects the hip and spine. He underwent surgery to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy and radiation, and his family hoped the cancer was gone for good. However, a routine scan in May 2017 found another tumor nearby, and Cade had to start another round of radiation at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City. He hasn’t experienced many side effects, and he’s held up well on the long drives from the Berryhill community to Oklahoma City for treatment five days a week, his dad Chris said. “He finds joy in the smallest things. If a kid can joke with the nurses while getting chemo, that’s a special kid.” Cade and his parents won’t know for several months whether the proton radiation destroyed the tumor, or if he will need chemotherapy again, but they’re confident their community’s support and Cade’s resilience will get them through if the battle isn’t over.
MOM HOPING TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH SON
Amelia Martin’s, a 41-year-old mom with terminal brain cancer, has started a fundraising campaign to raise £75,000 in the hope that life-saving treatment will buy her more time with her 6-year-old.
Amelia, from Leicester in England, was diagnosed with papillary meningioma, a rare and aggressive form of a brain tumor almost 4 years back. While surgery and radiotherapy initially helped remove the slow-growing tumor, it unfortunately returned a year later, and doctors told her there was nothing more they could do to help her. But the horror of the prognosis has hardly been able to dampen her spirits as she feels more determined than ever to fight cancer for the sake of her young boy. “Last time, the direction the tumor was growing in was making me sick. This time it’s growing in another direction, so I’m not feeling as poorly but it is affecting the muscles on the left-hand side of my face,” she said. In a bid to buy some more time with her family, she is prepping to undergo treatment that might prolong her life. With support from her husband Alex, Amelia is planning to travel to Prague, where she will be undergoing highly advanced proton therapy. They have started a fundraising campaign to raise £75,000 for the treatment. “I just want the opportunity to see Dylan growing up. I can’t bear the thought of not being here for him,” she said. “If it was just me it wouldn’t matter so much, but I want it for my son and my family.”
PROTON THERAPY ADVOCATE
Jim Graham, a 66-year-old retired businessman from Norfolk, is cancer free after flying 600 miles for treatment, and is calling for greater access to the pioneering cancer technology that saved his life.
Jim was diagnosed with prostate cancer after noticing spots of blood in his urine last year. “When I was first diagnosed they told me my cancer was at a T2, which meant it hadn’t spread outside the prostate,” he said. “Later they said it was more like a T3, meaning it had broken outside the prostate gland.” Doctors told him he was facing months of radiotherapy, possibly leaving him with bowel and bladder problems for the rest of his life. But having seen his wife undergo similar treatment for breast cancer, he looked into proton therapy. This type of treatment is not yet available in the UK, but the government has committed £250m to developing it and two facilities are being built in Manchester and London. “Doctors told me what they could do for me in this country but never mentioned there were alternatives abroad,” Jim said. “They didn’t even tell me the treatment existed.” After a 6-week course at the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic, which cost £30,000, Jim is still on hormone treatment and has to take pills daily for another nine months, but he is now cancer free.