Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping save the lives of young cancer patients and arousing the empathy and solidarity of generous people from all over the world.
£20K TO HELP FUND BABY’S CANCER BATTLE
The family of Riley Dean Clary, a 9-month-old toddler from the UK who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, has raised almost £10,000 in 10 days to support his potentially life-saving treatment.
Last week, Riley was diagnosed with an extrarenal rhabdoid tumor, a form of highly aggressive cancer, after his parents noticed he had stopped using his left arm. “He wouldn’t grip anything. We then noticed a lump on his shoulder, so we went to the doctor, who sent us to the hospital,” said his 24-year-old mom, Naomi. An ultrasound scan and MRI followed before Riley was referred to an oncologist and started chemotherapy. “After 12 weeks he will be reviewed, if the chemotherapy has shrunk his tumor then we may be looking at surgery, which will be followed by proton therapy in America,” his mom said. The family has raised almost £10,000 in just 10 days towards a £20,000 target to help pay for transport, accommodation and childcare to look after their 3 other children. “It makes me feel very blessed to be surrounded by such amazing and generous people. I wasn’t expecting such an amazing response. We are so grateful for it,” said Naomi. Riley’s grandfather said: “If the chemotherapy shrinks the tumor, there is a chance Riley could be a candidate for proton beam therapy in America, so we will need to do more fundraising to pay for that, though there are some grants available.” Donations can be made to the fund to help Riley by going to www.gofundme.com/riley-treatment-support-2utsrhg.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME DURING CANCER TREATMENT
Alissa Gomez, a 6-year-old girl from Texas, USA who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma last April, has found a home away from home during her treatment in the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth.
Earlier this year, Alissa became clumsy, often running into different objects and walking funny. Her grandmother, Leah, suspected an ear infection was causing Alissa’s clumsiness and imbalance, and she took her to the doctor on April 14. They were left with a medulloblastoma diagnosis, a fast developing brain tumor. “That day changed our lives forever,” Leah said. Five days later, surgeons successfully removed a majority of the tumor with no substantial side effects, but the molecular study of the tumor revealed a rare mutated cell. Instead of going a more typical route, Alissa began 2 months of proton therapy followed by a month break in July. The next step was chemotherapy. Alissa’s first round was in August and her final round will be this November. “She is doing extraordinarily well, but it is very difficult being away from home. Not just for Alissa and me, but for her brother back home. They miss her and she misses him,” Leah explains. Leah and Alissa found out about the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth from her caseworker at the hospital. The House was founded for families of critically ill children: it provides a home away from home for families, and allows parents and siblings to stay together while remaining close to a child receiving life-saving medical care in area hospitals. Leah and Alissa have stayed at the House off-and-on since her treatment began in April. It quickly became a place of comfort for the Gomez family while being away from their own home.
BLOOD MARROW DRIVE FOR LOCAL BABY
22-month-old Grace Skuches’ story begins at 6-month-old, when she was diagnosed with Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdiod Tumor (ATRT), an extremely rare and very difficult to treat pediatric brain tumor.
The tumor has since then been fully resected and, at the time of diagnosis, there were no other tumors present in her brain or on her spine. Her spinal fluid was negative for cancer cells. Over the past year, Grace has endured five rounds of high dose chemotherapy, one stem cell harvest, and three stem cell rescues. In December 2015, it was determined that Grace had no evidence of disease. Unfortunately, in the first week of January 2016, Grace had facial paralysis that was ultimately determined to be caused by a new tumor: the cancer was back. She started proton therapy January 13 and completed the treatment on February 24. She is currently receiving daily maintenance chemotherapy. Grace has endured many setbacks, like a subdural hematoma, two shunt revisions, numerous infections, and a PICC reinsertion. During Grace’s multiple surgeries and chemotherapies, she has received 15 blood transfusions, and 18 platelet transfusions. Her family is very hopeful of a positive outcome, and the New Jersey Blood Services are hosting another blood and marrow drive in her honor. The first drive was on July 14, and due to the overwhelming response back then, the next one will be a 2-day event.