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 battle against cancer.
SCHOOLBOY FLIES TO THE US FOR PROTON THERAPY
Benjamin Carter, an 11-year-old brave schoolboy from the UK suffering from rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), which affects the muscle tissue in his larynx, has flown out to the USA for a state-of-the-art cancer treatment not yet available in his country.
Ben was admitted to the hospital last September, when doctors thought he had a polyp on his vocal cord. He went in for surgery, but it was soon discovered he had a mass of tissue on his larynx. He underwent a series of tests and began chemotherapy in November. “When he has his chemo, he just sleeps and gets very down, but he will pick himself up, and we try to keep life as normal as possible when he’s well,” his mom says. He will begin his treatment at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute on March 1. “We looked into traditional radiotherapy, but one of the side effects is that it can cause other cancers later in life,” she continues. “He’s an 11-year-old child, and I don’t want the treatment we choose now to cause him future problems. How could we tell him it’s because of our decision he developed cancer again?” So last Monday, Benjamin flew out to Jacksonville, Florida, where he will remain until April 25 to undergo proton therapy, which will irradiate only diseased tissue. He will travel along with his mother Joanna, his 3-year-old sister and his father Dean, who will stay with the family for two weeks before returning home to work. To donate to Ben, visit www.gofundme.com/zktgee7w – the money will be used to make the trip as comfortable as possible for him.
ST. JUDE WARRIOR SEEKS SUPPORT
On March 19th, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will have a mud run event called Warrior Dash. Mirian Martinez seeks to raise $2,000 and add other team members for mud run to support children with cancer and other diseases.
As one of many hundreds of participants, Mirian is embarking on a goal to fundraise for children diagnosed with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. As of now, proton therapy is the most advanced form of radiation while sparing nearby healthy cells and vital organs located beyond the tumor. St. Jude Red Frog Events Proton Therapy Center will be the first in the world dedicated solely to children, designed specifically to meet the needs of young patients. As a second time St. Jude Warrior, Mirian’s goal is to raise $2,000 before the event takes place. Last year, through the support of contributors, she was able to raise $1,145, which was enough to provide one day of chemotherapy for a child battling leukemia. “Let’s help those in need and raise funds for the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” she said. “Every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists can use that knowledge to save thousands more children around the world.” If you would like to join her team, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
PROTON THERAPY DESTROYS CANCER, NOT THE PATIENT
Roughly 2 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and if you or a loved one is facing cancer, you might want to consider proton therapy: event if the treatment is not for everyone, for some it is purely and simply a blessing.
Proton therapy patients have fewer side effects because it only kills the cancer: whereas traditional radiation therapy works like a bullet, damaging healthy tissue as it enters and exits the body, proton therapy is like a firecracker placed inside the tumor, where the explosion of radiation damages just the tumor and nothing else. There is thus no nausea or burning, and best of all, no organ damage. Thanks to proton therapy, Jeff Powell and his wife believe they dodged two bullets: Jeff not only beat prostate cancer, but he also avoided the miserable side effects that often accompany traditional methods. “I had looked at surgery, and I talked to some friends at a local prostate meeting who had it, and they had a lot of trouble with incontinence and sexual malfunction. And at my age I just didn’t want to live like that,” he recalled. “Everything that worked when I started my treatment works fine now,” Jeff beamed. Craig Fieldings, 45, also chose proton therapy to treat his prostate cancer. “I’m half-way through my treatment right now and it’s been a pretty good experience,” he said. The cost of proton therapy is about three times the cost of traditional treatment, but most insurers, like Craig’s, cover the treatment. “It’s a painless process, there’s really nothing to it. I’m in and out in 15 minutes and I can go back to work,” he said. Besides prostate cancer, this type of treatment is also very effective on brain, head & neck, breast, lung and esophageal tumors, and is a preferred modality for children with cancer. There are only nine proton therapy centers in all of the United States right now, but another seven are on the way.