Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is offering a new chance at life and giving hope to families from all over the world.
VICTORIA IS LOOKING FORWARD TO HOME
Victoria Calland, a 3-year-old girl from the UK battling a rare form of childhood cancer, is settling in well while receiving potentially life-saving proton therapy treatment in America.
After a tumor was discovered in her bile duct and she was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in June, Victoria had an operation to remove the tumor, but as some cancer cells still remained, she would also need to undergo several courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well as proton therapy to rid her body of the cancer and prevent it from coming back. Victoria travelled to Jacksonville with her mom Jennifer last month to have proton therapy. Jennifer said: “The program that University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute has put together for their UK visitors is really good. Our apartment was ready and waiting for us, and car rental was arranged for pick up the next morning. We settled in very quickly. We’ve fallen into an actually enjoyable daily routine with the proton beam treatment”. Victoria is currently having proton beam therapy every week day and hasn’t been able to spend as much time going out and about as she wanted because her ability to fight infection has been at an all-time low due to the chemo. “Our daughter has one of the most aggressive forms of childhood cancer, but we got lucky that it appeared in a place that caused problems right away so we were able to catch it early which gives her a great prognosis. “We got lucky to be able to participate in the NHS’s Proton Beam program which gives Victoria the very best chance against not only her cancer, but also against the lifelong debilitating side effects often associated with radiotherapy treatment. We are very much looking forward to completing Victoria’s proton beam therapy here and returning to a much quieter life in Wigan in mid-November.”
EVENT TO AID YOUNG WOMAN FIGHTING CANCER
Family and friends of Gabby Lara, an 18-year-old from Florence, USA who is fighting throat cancer, have organized a benefit this WE to help defray her treatment expenses.
Gabby graduated this year from Florence High School and CAVIT’s dental assistant program. She was a recreation leader for her town before going on leave after her throat cancer diagnosis this summer. Gabby is currently receiving both chemotherapy and proton therapy, which is more site-specific and does not do as much damage as traditional radiation. She is maintaining “a good spirit” through daily trips to the Valley for doctor appointments and treatments, and doctors are very positive about her outlook and say the condition is curable. The public was invited to a benefit for Gabby on October 15th. Her friends have also set up an account for her, which is accepting contributions under the name “Gabby Forever.” Her mom expressed her gratitude to the community who has generously offered all kinds of help, including housecleaning and help with Gabby’s other siblings, in recent weeks. “My heart is full,” she said.
VICTORY OVER PROSTATE CANCER
When he was 65, Bob Jones went to his doctor to do a prostate cancer screening after he had skipped it for a few years: “Sure enough, when I did do the PSA test they found something,” he said. “Anything above a 4 is bad. And I was a 7.9.”
A follow-up biopsy confirmed it was prostate cancer. Bob’s urologist offered several treatment options, but he wasn’t satisfied with any of them, and he decided to do his own research. “I knew there was some center over here in Somerset that had just opened, a proton therapy center,” he said. “I went and toured the center, met the people and decided this was the way I wanted to go.” He started his 44 treatment sessions in March of 2012 and finished in June. At every visit, he would sit in the waiting room with a dozen other men around his age, all of them required to drink 18 ounces of water out of a blue bottle as they awaited treatment. The water fills up the bladder, which conveniently moves it out of the way for the radiation beam to target the prostate. They gave themselves a nickname: The Brotherhood of the Blue Bottle. The treatment had few side effects, except for fatigue, and now Bob’s cancer is in total remission. He still is very close with the other men in the Brotherhood of the Blue Bottle, and when other patients finish their 44 rounds of treatment, the Center holds a small “graduation” ceremony for them, and Bob always tries to be there. “I go just to encourage them to stay positive. I go and say, ‘Just watch how well this works for you.’”