Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is giving hope to cancer patients with limited treatment options.
PT FOR TEENAGER WITH EWING’S SARCOMA
Connor Wood, a 14-year-old boy who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer before Christmas, is to fly to the US for potentially life-saving treatment. His friends and family are raising money to help pay for day-to-day living costs abroad.
Connor had always been a fit and healthy youngster who enjoyed sports until he started feeling poorly in October. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma after being rushed to the hospital when he fell ill at school. “I got a phone call from his school saying Connor was unwell, and was struggling to breathe,” his mom remembers. He was taken to hospital where he underwent a CT scan and it was discovered he had fluid on his lung. “It was on Monday, December 13 when I was told it was Ewing’s Sarcoma and the tumor had pressed on his lung, causing it to collapse.” Connor’s parents were told he would have to go to America for 3 months for proton therapy. “Connor has been really brave and brilliant. He is really missing not going to school. He undergoes intensive chemotherapy every three weeks,” his mom said. Following the chemotherapy, he will undergo surgery in April and is expected to travel to America in May. Now friends and family are rallying around the youngster helping to raise money to pay for their day-to-day living costs, while they are there. “Connor will undergo treatment for 12 months, so it is a long journey and then he will have lifetime monitoring.”
MIRACLE RECOVERY WITH PROTON THERAPY
Ashya King, a young brain cancer patient from the UK who was taken out of the hospital by his parents for proton therapy abroad in August 2014, sparking an international manhunt, is now cancer free and back to school.
Ashya’s parents took their son out of hospital and travelled to the Czech Republic for proton therapy in 2014, after NHS doctors said it would not work as Ashya was “too ill to go” and his medulloblastoma was not included on the NHS list of cancers that can be referred abroad for proton therapy. Ashya’s parents however concluded that the best option was proton therapy, and took him out of the hospital without the consent of his doctors, sparking an international manhunt that led to their arrest in Spain a few days later, where they were forced to spend several nights in prison. They were freed after a legal fight and flew Ashya to a private clinic in Prague for proton treatment. Now, nearly 3 years on, Ashya’s dad is delighted to announce that his son is cancer free and back to school with his friends. His doctor from the Prague’s proton therapy center said: “We are in a regular contact with Ashya King’s parents. According to the last news from them the boy is very well. In Spain, where he lives with his parents and other siblings, he goes to school every day, he continues in rehabilitation and goes to logopedist.”
GETTING THROUGH BRAIN SURGERY WITH A SONG
29-year-old Zack Zortman, formerly the lead singer of a local band, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor last fall. After undergoing surgery to have it removed, he wrote and recorded a new song that will be released soon.
Zack had been the lead singer of York-based alternative pop band for 6 years, but as he sang on a Friday morning in late September, he wasn’t on stage, he was lying awake in an operating room, surrounded by a team of doctors. Just a few days prior, he had been diagnosed with a tumor on the left temporal lobe of his brain, and was told he needed to be awake for the majority of the 6-hour surgery to remove it. Singing helped him calm his nerves but also allowed doctors to avoid areas of the brain critical to speech during surgery. The procedure went well and 99% of the tumor was removed, but his brain was so swollen that for 3 days he could barely speak, let alone sing. A week later, he got the news he had feared and was diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma, a rare and malignant brain tumor. The cancer diagnosis put his life in perspective, and it got him thinking about the things that are most important to him in life: family, friends and, he realized, music. In between aggressive proton therapy and chemotherapy treatments, he started playing piano and singing again. At the beginning of March, about five months post-surgery, he released his first single as a solo artist. Zack received a clean MRI in early February, which means he’s cancer-free. But he still considers it a never-ending road. Brain cancer, in particular, can come back, he said, and there is no known cure. For now, he’s going to continue to live each day like he was meant to live.