Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping young cancer patients and their families face the terrible battle against cancer.
PRINCESS RUBY IS 16 MONTHS CANCER-FREE
Ruby Hodgson, a 6-year-old from Redcar, UK has been keeping cancer at bay for 16 months now. Her thrilled family are celebrating her longest “all clear” since she was diagnosed with a brain tumor four years ago.
Ruby was first diagnosed with cancer when she was just 22 months old. Since then, she has suffered a severe stomach infection, endured gruelling chemotherapy, had pioneering proton therapy in America, and seen the tumor return twice. So each time Ruby goes to the hospital to get her MRI scan results is an anxious moment for her family. But the anxiety gave way to joy this week when her latest results showed she has now been cancer-clear for a fantastic 16 months. Her mom said: “We do the MRI scans every four months, but we delayed this one to five months because it would have been hanging over us at Christmas. It’s awful. It doesn’t get any easier – that nervousness, the feeling sick. If I’m honest, I was probably preparing myself for the worst this time…Yet here we are, 16 months on, and she’s beating the odds.”
Ruby now plans to take part in a sponsored walk that could help get her to America for a holiday with the charity Give Kids The World, which organizes dream trips for children battling serious illnesses. And not only will Ruby be tackling the walk herself, she’s likely to do it wearing her favorite Disney Princess costume!
NHS PAYS FOR 9-YEAR-OLD TO UNDERGO PT IN THE US
Paris Somma, a 9-year-old girl from Bradford, UK flew out to the US last week to start ten weeks of intensive cancer treatment to hopefully get rid of her brain tumor.
Paris was diagnosed with a pineal gland tumor after suffering from headaches and vision problems last December. Since then, she has already undergone three bouts of major surgery, but the procedures have failed to completely remove the tumor. She was thus sent to a clinic in Oklahoma for a course of proton beam therapy, which is often used to treat brain tumors in young children whose brains are still developing. Her guardian Pauline, who is travelling to the US with her, said: “She is anxious, but she knows what she is facing. The doctors have talked her through things, and they have done a trial run with the type of face mask she will have to wear. Physically she is fine, it’s just the mental side of things.” NHS England is covering the cost of Paris’s treatment, flights, and accommodation, and her family and friends have so far raised more than £3,200 to help fund other expenses, including a laptop to allow her to keep up at school and stay in touch with her two younger sisters. Any remaining funds will be donated in Paris’s name to the CLIC Sargent children’s cancer charity. Referring to the treatment, Mrs Mitchell said: “It’s a walk into the unknown. It will be very hard and very stressful, but it’s just something we have to do. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s what is pushing us on. We just want Paris to be well.” Anyone who wants to help Paris’s fundraising should visit gofundme.com/parissomma.
TEEN REMAINS UPBEAT AS TREATMENT BEGINS
13-year-old Alana Cooks, who already underwent surgery and proton therapy just before Christmas, began the third – and possibly the last – leg of her treatment plan when she received her first round of chemotherapy last week.
Last fall, Alana was diagnosed with a papillary tumor of the pineal gland, which is near the back of the base of the brain. After undergoing a 7-hour operation to remove the tumor she returned home after spending only five days at the hospital, even though her doctors had expected her to remain in their care for up to three weeks. Alana continued to impress her physicians when she and her parents relocated to Chicago for proton therapy. Other than one headache that resulted from a lack of fluids and a small amount of hair loss, Alana said she suffered no side effects because of the radiation. Now she need chemotherapy to complete her treatment plan. Papillary tumors are so rare that Alana’s diagnosis is one of only 44 known cases, and because of that rarity, her doctors are unsure of how the tumor will react to treatment or what effect the high dose of chemicals could have on her 13-year-old body. Despite that uncertainty, she remains optimistic that at the end of her six-month treatment, she’ll be able to say she’s cancer free. “We don’t really focus on the negative. We try to focus on the positive,” said her mother. Alana will receive chemotherapy about once a month for six months. Doctors will first have to gauge her body’s reaction to the treatment before deciding when she can return home to rest between treatments. “The next steps in my life after chemotherapy are still uncertain right now”, she girl said.