Wed. Apr 14th, 2021

when your Baby has cancer, So much is beyond your control. Nevertheless, you have the power to make important decisions. For some parents whose children have certain types of cancer, proton beam radiation may be offered as a potentially safe alternative to conventional radiation. Read further Two families explained why they chose proton therapy, what the treatment involved and what their young sons are doing now.

In early April, however, Krystle lived in Houston, Pennsylvania and central Pennsylvania, while his 4-year-old son attended proton radiation therapy. MD Anderson Cancer Center of University of Texas. It was his second time with cancer treatment, which did not make it easy.

In 2014, then 2-year-old Heath was first diagnosed brain tumor. In particular, doctors found what is called an appendymoma or cancer of the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. The original tumor was in his brain.

Doctors at his nearest medical center recommend traditional radiation, Krystal says. But she and her husband Looked ahead. “We did our research,” she says. “We have come to know that, with conventional radiation, our son was seeing his eyes, his hearing, his growth, the effect on his intelligence, and the shortcomings.”

Because proton beam therapy is highly targeted for tumors with low exposure to normal, healthy tissue, it is believed that radiation treatment minimizes the side effects of the affected part of the body as well as surrounding organs. In early stages of development young children may benefit most from receiving protons instead of conventional radiation. However, research comparing treatments is still emerging.

Dr. Torun Yock examines the image of the brain to plan radiation treatment. (Courtesy of Massachusetts General Cancer Center)

Proton therapy is available at a few locations across the country. The couple had their careers – both are IT professionals – and three older children to consider. But the chance of reducing the possible side effects Conventional radiation Motivated the couple to travel to Texas with Heath for new treatments.

“when we [did] Proton radiation for that period, our son finally came out without any side effects, “says Crystal. No hearing loss, no vision problems, no development issues. He is highly intelligent. “All made the two-month transfer worthwhile, she says.

But proton beam radiation is a treatment, not a magic bullet. This was evident when the cancer reappeared in Heath’s recent MRI scan, performed at a local hospital. The new tumor appeared in a different, previously untreated part of his brain. “This led us to a spinal MRI, which identified that he had a large tumor in his spine, as well as four vertebrae,” Krystal says.

“With this last scan, when they found a tumor in her brain, it was obviously very difficult for us to process,” says Ken. “And then they found a tumor in his spine, which was enough.”

Again, Dodson opted for treatment over MD Anderson, this time with even more heavy hearts. It was encouraging that surgeons were able to remove spinal tumors “with almost no adverse effects,” Kane says. “And now we’re passing [proton] Radiation – We feel very blessed. it’s scary. But at the end of the day, we are very grateful that we have the opportunity to do so. “

Every Monday through Friday, first thing in the morning, his son went for proton treatment. It started with sedation drugs given through the port in his chest. The treatment session took about 45 minutes to an hour, after which he was able to recover from unconsciousness. Meanwhile, his parents were busy, working away from the lobby and waiting room.

Fortunately, Krystal says, the family has “excellent” health insurance that covers expensive proton treatments. The average cost of proton therapy is estimated at $ 40,000 per course Radiation.

The biggest challenge was leaving other children at home to attend school. “We just do our best … if any of us can come back home to see them,” she says. At one point, they were able to fly Heath’s siblings to visit his rented townhouse.

Crystal encourages others to face difficult medical options second opinion And do some research. “Because no one was coming to us and saying, ‘Hey, you should radiate protons,” she says. It was a choice she had to explore, she adds, and educating herself was part of the process.

The prospect of uprooting himself for six weeks and leaving his other young children behind, Ken says earlier, seemed very disruptive. “But we quickly decided that you can’t do the best,” he says. “That was why we made the decision we made.” “The best technique,” in Crystal Chimes.

“It’s a comfort for us that we can’t always see a thing …” Ken says, clearing his throat. “Regardless of where we stand at our high school graduation, we can look back and say, ‘He is here because we have gone through a struggle and we did everything we possibly could for him.’

In early June, Heath completed his treatment a week earlier than anticipated and returned home with his parents and was a surprise to the other children. The initial discharge felt like a gift to the family. “We got one a week ago,” Crystal says. Heath is doing very well; She looks great and is already playing outside, she says. Now, the family waits to find out how well the treatment worked. When they get results from a follow-up MRI scan at the end of the month, they will know more.

McKillen Family: Two Years Later

Rotating the gantry allows pinpoint proton beam delivery. (Courtesy of Massachusetts General Cancer Center)

About two years ago, Meg McQuillan of Riverside, Connecticut, heard something she never expected. Her son Luke, then 8 years old, underwent a precautionary CT scan after a slight fall from simply losing balance. “The doctor came to me and said, ‘I want to show you something on screen,” she recalls. “And, he says, ‘We actually got something.” “It was a mass on some brain – a tumor.

The next morning, Luke had emergency surgery, which revealed that the tumor was malignant. He was diagnosed with a type of brain cancer called medulloblastoma, which can also spread to the spinal cord.

After a week in the hospital ended with “a brutal recruitment” from the surgery, Luke’s parents took him home to give him time to heal his brain. Amidst his reactions, one person was shocked that cancer could affect his son. McQuillan says that he was always perfectly healthy and physically active. The family ate well. He cooked organic food and bought bio-friendly cleaning supplies. There was no known family history of cancer.

oncologist At the university hospital where Luke was being treated, a special type of radiation was recommended, which was not available at that hospital. Among the closest medical centers equipped to treat children using proton therapy, McClins opted for this Massachusetts General Hospital, About three hours drive.

Luke’s protocol was six weeks, five days a week, of radiation. Previously they required complete anesthesia in the form of total radiation to the brain and spinal cord. He was also treated Chemotherapy.

“Treatment really green [Luke] Above, “McQuillan says.” He was tired and constantly throwing up, every single day. And losing weight through the whole thing. “Yet her son’s attitude was” extraordinary “, she says, and the support of Dr. Torun Yock, director of pediatrics and radiation oncology at Massachusetts General, and the entire staff” was amazing. “

During that time, he lived in Christopher’s Haven, a home for children and families undergoing cancer treatment. Luke’s sister used to come home every weekend with her father to attend school during the week.

McQuillan is particularly grateful to the group of mothers in her community. “When we were in Boston, every week, one of his best friends pulled his child out of school and went to Boston every Wednesday.” “It was like the best medicine. He went from being drained and exhausted and wiped off alone and kind of being a silly kid to being happy again.”

Luke’s recovery is gradual. “This has slowed her rebound,” says McKillan. “Their energy and endurance levels, after treatment for about two years … we’re just starting to get them back now.” His balance is back to normal, and he is playing sports: basketball, tennis and baseball.

Because their treatment protocol included total brain and spinal cord radiation, as well as Chemotherapy, Luke will be monitored for issues such as growth. Because he received proton beam therapy instead of conventional radiation, McKillen says, “what he won’t experience are side effects in other parts of his body.”

Surprisingly, although Luke missed the third grade during his horrific experience, he remained in his class. “He’s doing so well academically,” McClillan says. Now, at the age of 11, Luke is ready to graduate from elementary school, his mother says proudly.

The family just received some very good news. “We just had his two-year MRI, which was 100 percent clear,” McQuillan says – a significant milestone.

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