Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping young children through heir illness and giving hope back to their families.
YOUNG BOY POLISHES HIS SUPERPOWERS
3-year-old Mason Macri from Canada was diagnosed with a rare cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. Like many little boys, he is fascinated with superheroes, that’s why his parents told him that each proton therapy treatment recharges his superpowers.
Last spring, when Mason’s mother noticed he was having bowel problems, she took him to their family doctor who told her not to worry. But a month later, when he couldn’t urinate and his stomach was distended, his parents took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma and his cancer treatment began. Radiation therapy was not an option because of his age and the location of the tumor. The hope was that chemotherapy would shrink the tumor enough to remove it surgically. In the meantime, while researching options on the Internet, his parents discovered proton therapy. A second opinion and more imaging at a larger hospital in Toronto found another mass, which took the possibility of surgery off the table. Doctors there agreed proton therapy was a good option, but there are no proton centers in Canada. “The power of the Internet led us to MD Anderson in the USA,” Mason’s dad said. Leaving their jobs and home behind, the family moved to an apartment close to MD Anderson, where Mason had 30 proton treatments, Monday through Friday for six weeks. He loved the nurses at the center, who helped him build his superpowers. “We knew he would have questions about what was happening, and we wanted to say something positive but not lie,” his dad said. “It’s really helped a lot.”
2-YEAR-OLD CELEBRATES COMPLETION OF PROTON THERAPY
Last Monday was a special day for Viktor Skaro and his family: the two-year-old boy rang a bell to signify the completion of his proton beam cancer therapy at Mayo Clinic.
Vito was diagnosed with a brain cancer when he was only 11 months old. The best way to treat his cancer was total brain radiation, but it would have resulted in mental deficits. Instead, Mayo Clinic offered the option of proton beam therapy, which is a more focused treatment and allows doctors to pinpoint the location of a tumor. Vito’s family said overall, Mayo Clinic made the therapy a good experience. “We know you’re scared, we’re going to take care of you and everyday they were happy and they played with Vito,” his mother said. “They made him smile and they made us smile and when I was really scared and nervous they helped walk us through everything so it’s been an amazing experience overall. They treated our whole family and not just Vito.” Now, Vito and his family will be headed to the University of Minnesota, where he will receive high-dose chemo treatments and stem cell therapy.
A FAMILY’S BATTLE AGAINST AT/RT
When she was only 5 months old, Grace Skuches was diagnosed with AT/RT (atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor), an extremely rare and difficult to treat pediatric brain tumor.
After finding out about the tumor on Grace’s brain, surgery was immediately scheduled for the following day at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey. Diagnosing the type of tumor was the best step toward understanding how to fight it. AT/RT is an extremely rare and aggressive tumor that spreads rapidly, but Grace was going into this battle with the best possible situation, as she had no other tumors or lesions, her cerebral spinal fluid was negative for cancer cells, the tumor was fully resected and she had stem cells available for harvest. The surgery on the tumor lasted approximately 5 hours and the doctor was able to cut out about 99% of it. Grace is now 10 months old and has had 4 brain surgeries, 4 rounds of chemotherapy, 1 stem cell harvest, and 2 stem cell rescues. She still has 1 more round of chemotherapy and stem cell rescue and proton therapy is planned to start in January. Grace has endured a few setbacks, like a subdural hematoma, shunt revision, and a PICC reinsertion, but she is a fighter! To help supplement income and pay for the costs that aren’t covered by the couple’s insurance, they were urged to set up a fundraising page in Grace’s honor. Friends, family and coworkers have donated money to the family and are able to read about Grace’s journey through a blog her parents maintain. To find out more about Grace, visit https://www.youcaring.com/grace-skuches-385173.