Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality has brought families closer and allowed them to gather for Thanksgiving.
Ruby receives her Brave Heart Award
5-year-old Ruby Hodgson has spent three years battling a recurring brain stem tumor. Her sheer determination an courage have earned her a Brave Heart Award.
The little girl has been an inspiration to many and she joined 25 others at a special ceremony at St James’ Park in Newcastle, UK yesterday to receive her award along with cancer sufferers Rebecca Henderson, 8, Thomas Forster, 9, of Hartburn, and William Harland, 11. Each child, nominated from across the region, received a Brave Hearts crystal plinth and a gift in recognition of the inspirational courage and strength they have shown in battling illness or adversity.
Ruby recently finished 30 treatments at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital after a brain stem tumor returned for a third time despite proton therapy in the USA. Her parents admitted they don’t know what the future holds, but said: “Ruby is always dancing around and she loves being the center of attention.”
Thanksgiving at Jacksonville Ronald McDonald House
Oliver Crowson, 7, and his mother, Katie, will be spending Thanksgiving with his grandmother and other families at the Ronald McDonald House, a free home for families of critically ill children receiving treatment at local hospitals
Oliver started having headaches and vomiting three months ago. An MRI revealed a tumor larger than a golf ball in his cerebellum. He had brain cancer. The next day, Sept. 11, surgeons removed what they believe was all of the tumor. Then came chemotherapy and radiation, which brought them to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville in October, where Oliver received targeted radiation on the area where the tumor had been.
Oliver, his mother and grandmother have stayed at the 30-bedroom Ronald McDonald House during their time in Jacksonville. On the first day there, an uncertain Oliver hid behind his mother. But staff, volunteers and daily activities made him feel at home.
“It is a fight, a marathon. We’re fighting it together,” Katie Crowson said. “You bond with the families that are here. I’ve made some close friends.” On Thanksgiving, a local family will cook and serve a holiday meal to the house residents. An excited Oliver said the meal will feature four turkeys and all the trimmings.
Football player with rare cancer is working to recover
12-year-old David Gerfast returned from the Mayo Clinic on Friday, just in time for Thanksgiving. Earlier this fall, David was tackled during a football game and a back injury led to the discovery of a rare tumor wrapped around his spine called extraosseous chordoma.
David underwent 2 surgeries at the Mayo Clinic this month. “The goal was to get every single bit out, and I think we did,” said his neurosurgeon. Fusing a few of David’s vertebrates was unavoidable, but necessary to provide strength in his neck. While his days playing football are over, movement isn’t as limited as initially feared.
On Tuesday, David and his parents learned more about the next step to his recovery. He needs proton beam radiation. The Mayo Clinic is in the process of building a proton therapy clinic, but it won’t be complete until the spring, and David needs it sooner.
“The facilities they have in the United States are very few. Mayo Clinic would like us to go to Boston, they are the best and have the highest percentage of success. We want him to have the best care.” Countless people have been cheering for David. He’s received notes and gifts from his favorite NFL team the Seahawks, a highlight video made by his teammates, and several fundraisers are being planned to help the family of five get through this financially.