Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping patients of all ages and from all over the world in their fight against cancer.
EPENDYMOMA PEDIATRIC SURVIVOR
Eden Bragg, a 4-year-old from Midland, Texas who was diagnosed with a brain tumor called ependymoma when he was just two, is now two years tumor free after 33 proton therapy treatments.
In May 2015, Eden suddenly started vomiting for several days. At first, his parents were told that a virus was causing his sickness, until they visited their local children’s hospital in their hometown. Doctors decided to go a step further and complete a CT scan, which revealed a tumor on his brain called ependymoma. Eden underwent surgery to remove the tumor, and unfortunately developed meningitis, an infection of in his spinal fluid. After a month-long hospitalization, doctors began discussions about radiation treatment, highly recommending proton therapy over conventional radiation, as proton therapy is especially beneficial for children who are still developing and growing. “Instead of radiating his whole head, doctors would radiate only a specific spot,” Eden’s mom said. Eden arrived at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center in July 2015 where he completed 33 treatments. Eden and his family were very pleased with the staff at the center: “We loved seeing them everyday. Pediatric Nurse Leo was just so nice. He helped Eden calm down,” Eden’s mom said. Now, Eden is 4 years old and two years tumor free. He enjoys visiting Toys “R” Us to shop for cars, trains and rockets. He loves the outdoors especially visiting barns to pet animals.
VIVIAN THE CANCER FIGHTING MACHINE
Vivian Mallis, a carefree young girl about to turn two years old in November, is all smiles despite high-risk neuroblastoma because she’s too young to understand what her body is fighting.
Danielle learned of her daughter’s diagnosis when she was about to turn one. “They did a biopsy when they first took her back and found it was stage four, high-risk neuroblastoma,” she recalls. The treatment requires the family to travel to the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute five days a week. “She has to get sedated every day,” said Danielle. “She can’t move around for it, can’t eat breakfast and can’t drink anything until she’s done.” But last Friday was a little bit different. There were more smiles, more laughs and more playtime for Vivian with her older brother Christian. Shortly after her family visited her in the center’s playroom, she went with doctors to receive her final proton radiation therapy after two months. She even got to ring a bell to celebrate the occasion. “She’s so strong,” said Danielle. “It’s hard but I stare at her and know everything will be okay. She’s the strongest person I know, and I call her ‘Vivian Jean the Cancer Fighting Machine.’” If you’d like to donate to help with hospital bills you can visit the family’s crowdfunding page.
CROWDFUNDING FOR RARE CANCER TREATMENT
Jie Eccles, a 28-year-old from South Hobart in Australia, has underwent the longest year of his life, but thanks to proton therapy and the generous donations of strangers, he may now still have many years ahead of him.
Jie had his worst fears confirmed when he was diagnosed with stage 3 malignant sarcoma just before Christmas last year. Although he began radiation therapy immediately, he was told he had a 33% chance of survival beyond five years should he continue with surgery and treatment in Australia. But a highly successful crowd-funding campaign raised $40,000 in 12 days and enabled him to go to a clinical trial at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. Jie has now just returned home after 5 weeks of proton therapy at the world-leading center, as this state-of-the-art type of treatment is not expected to be available in Australia before 2020. Jie has now 2 weeks to wait before getting full medical reports back from Texas. “I’m looking at having about an 80% survival rate past five years, which is phenomenal for sarcoma,” he said. “Worst case scenario is I would have to continue having more of treatment. I don’t want to jump the gun, but we’re expecting a really good outcome.” Jie has turned his thoughts to the future after being accepted into a University of Tasmania psychology course beginning next year. “This whole experience has highlighted for me how important it is to have clinical trials and medical research in Australia to make proton therapy more accessible,” he said. “I really want to help people that have walked down a similar path to me and that’s giving me something to look forward to into the future.”