Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is changing lives and giving hope all over the world.
Proton therapy to save teenager’s eyesight
17-year-old Matt Tomney, who had his left eye removed after contracting a rare type of tumor called optic glioma, has been given the go-ahead by the NHS to travel to Jacksonville, Florida to have proton beam therapy and save his other eye.
Matt began to complain about headaches and not being able to see just before Christmas 2012. It was discovered that Matt had optic glioma, a benign tumor that began to grow as months went on, subsequently taking his sight in his left eye.
A fund raising drive was launched in October to help his family travel with him to the USA to get proton therapy and save his other eye. This week, Matt was delighted to be getting the news and said: “I would like to thank everyone for the help they have given, and the support both financially and emotionally.”
Matt’s mom said: “We are all astounded at the amount raised and the level of support we have received. It is a huge relief not to have to be concerned about the financial side of this. I can concentrate now on getting Matt through the proton beam therapy and hopefully put an end to his nightmare.” Matt is still waiting on an exact date for his therapy but it is likely to be early January.
Physician assistant beats cancer 3 times
Chris Sutten, a 45-year-old physician assistant in cardiac and vascular surgery from Minnesota, has already beaten cancer 3 times in the past 9 years. His local paper, the St. Cloud Times, just printed a story on his health battles.
Since the article was printed, Chris has been hearing from strangers, some of them terminally ill patients, who look to him for hope and advice.
It started in 2005, when he discovered a lump on his neck that turned out to be cancerous. Pronounced cancer-free after radiation treatment, Chris returned to work. But in 2008 there was another lump, this one under his chin, cancer again, under the tongue and in the lymph nodes. This time, Chris chose radiation and chemotherapy and survived again.
Then, in 2012, as he was experiencing blurred vision, Chris learned that a cancerous tumor had wrapped itself around his optic nerve and was adjacent to his carotid artery, which led to a tricky 12-hour-surgery in October 2012. This time, instead of radiation, his research led him to choose proton beam therapy. Compared with the previous nine years, the last two have been smooth sailing for Chris. He says his stamina is good. “I’ve got a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old who wake me up at night,” he says. “I get paged at night. That’s part of the job. But I’m doing OK. I drink a lot of coffee.”
Last patient treated at IU Health PT center
Last Thursday morning, Dennis Day became the 2,079th and final patient to ring the bell at the Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center, a tradition implemented since the center opened in 2004 to celebrate a patient’s final treatment.
“I feel honored,” said the 65-year-old prostate cancer survivor from Illinois. “This place has given me a second chance at life, and a higher quality of life. They’ve treated my cancer pain-free and free of any side effects. And the staff has bent over backward to make me feel comfortable and safe.”
Ringing the bell just before Day was 48-year-old Peter McFarland, a high school guidance counselor who finished seven weeks of treatment for a brain tumor. He said he planned to be back at work today. “People here treat you like you’re a member of their family,” he said. “They get to know you as a person and learn all about you.”
Since the announced closure four months ago, about 30 of the center’s employees have found jobs with Indiana University, IU Health, proton therapy centers in other states or doctors’ offices in Bloomington.