Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality can sometimes be the only answer for cancer patients running out of options.
3-YEAR-OLD BATTLING CANCER A SECOND TIME
Three-year-old Damian Creed from North Naples, Florida was thought to be nearly cured of a childhood cancer, until his parents learned it had spread to his brain, leaving him a 50/50 chance of survival.
Damien has brain cancer, discovered after he had undergone what his parents believed had been a successful fight against a childhood cancer that resulted in the loss of an eye… The family’s struggles began about 18 months ago: when Damian’s mom Sarah was changing his diaper one day, she noticed that his pupil was fixed and dilated. She used a cellphone flash to see if the boy’s eye would respond, but nothing happened, and she called her husband to come home. “We rushed him over to the hospital”, she said. “They did a CT scan and found a mass.” Doctors returned with a diagnosis of retinoblastoma, a form of cancer of the eye that most often hits children 3 or younger. The treatment was intra-arterial chemotherapy, which is an attempt to save the eye by using micro catheters to introduce medicine directly to the eye. The technique is intended to salvage the eye by avoiding radiation treatment. “They did that seven times, and in January 2015, he was deemed pretty good, still had a tumor but they felt pretty confident that it was almost calcified, or dead,” Sarah said. But these seven sessions with powerful chemotherapy drugs had left Damian’s immune system weakened, and the findings led to a recommendation that treatment be extended over time to counter that effect. Last Tuesday, Sarah and Damian left their North Naples home for Jacksonville, for a six-week series of radiation treatments at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute.
ILLINOIS MAN TO RECEIVE LITTLE-USED CANCER TREATMENT
Teke Karsgaard from Jacksonville, Illinois will soon be receiving a 30 treatment proton therapy at a Chicago clinic for a cancerous teratoma sitting on the T-11 vertebrea of his spinal cord.
Diagnosed with testicular cancer 27 years ago, Teke has been battling cancer on and off for several years. His cancer spread, causing the formation of several teratomas throughout his body. “At that time, they gave me six months to live,” he said. “But some of the tumors weren’t cancerous as they originally thought.” His last round was 3 years ago, for a tumor on his spinal cord. Now Teke is fighting against a teratoma on the same spot and is scheduled to undergo specialized proton therapy, which is controlled more easily than traditional radiation. “It’s like a laser,” he said. “With radiation it’s like a flashlight, illuminating the area around it, but with protons it’s more focused and they can control the depth the protons go.” Which is a good thing in his case: because of his last round of radiation, his doctors are worried another round of radiation could cause some significant damage to the spinal cord that could leave him paralyzed. This treatment is not well known in central Illinois and even Teke’s doctors were not too familiar with the treatment. “It’s been around for a while, but not a lot of people know about it,” he said. “It’s also really expensive.” Despite going through years of treatments and illness, Teke said he still pushes on with the help of his family, his wife Alyson and son Ty, as well as some of the goals he sets for himself. His wife has been his support for 23 of the 27 years he’s been ill. “She’s been through it all with me, except those first four years,” he said. “She’s been my rock. The caregivers don’t get the recognition they deserve.”
MIRACLE FOR REVEREND CANCER PATIENT
A Surprise “Kicking Cancer Party” was recently held at as a celebration of life in honor of Reverend Larry Sorah from Athens, Tennessee, who just finished his proton therapy treatment at the Provision Center in Knoxville.
Larry was first diagnosed in June of 2014 with a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) the size of a grapefruit attached to his small intestine. He hadn’t had any symptoms, until he got to feeling sick, passed out and was taken to the ER at Athens hospital and then transferred to Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga. By the time he arrived at Erlanger he was rushed to the OR for emergency surgery. The doctor told his wife he probably wouldn’t make it and that his situation was very critical. However, he made it through surgery just fine and spent a few days in ICU. When he woke up, he was surprised and thankful to be alive. But the battle wasn’t over. In May 2015, he went to a kidney specialist and was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The doctor wanted to do radiation treatments but Larry told him he wanted to think about it first. He made some research and opted for proton therapy. He applied at the Provision Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, and had 39 treatments in eight weeks time. The medical staff at the Center have recently organized a “Kicking Cancer Party” for Larry to celebrate the end of his treatment with his doctors, family and friends.