My fight for the only right treatment – proton therapy in Prague!

Samantha Williams, a 22-year-old student from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, was looking forward to completing her studies of animal science at Plymouth University. She loves her studies and wants to work in conservation. But cruel stroke of fate changed her plans completely. Strangely, her destiny wanted her to postpone her final exams and spend several months in hospitals instead.

In May she received the devastating diagnosis, when doctors told her that she had undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma in her sinuses and lymph nodes.
Since then, she has undergone several operations, including the removal of a lymph node, and her wisdom teeth, followed by two bouts of chemotherapy.
The British doctors also suggested IMRT which is conventional irradiation.

However, Samantha and her family had known that this treatment could leave her with brain damage, and loss of sight and hearing, due to the close proximity of her brain, eyes and ears to the affected area. At that time, they researched her condition on Internet and came across the advanced option of irradiation by proton beam.

In July this year, the father of Samantha, Mr Williams told the press: “Radiation therapy may affect everything around the area of the tumour, not just the tumour itself. Proton beam therapy – unlike conventional X-ray photon radiation therapy – stops at a precise point, conforming to the tumour shape and depth, fighting the site of the tumour. This means there’s no exit dose of radiation, preserving normal tissues and organs. For a previously lively woman it could result in avoiding possible brain damage, saving her eyesight, hearing, and facial features.”

Naturally, the family contacted the NHS about Samantha’s treatment. They received a negative reply. Mr Williams added: “The differences in the two types of treatment are like comparing the after-effects of a ‘smart’ bomb, to a ‘carpet’ bomb – laying waste to everything around the targeted area. It’s a disgrace proton treatment isn’t offered on the NHS“, continues Mr Williams. He is also disappointed with the overall approach of the British specialists. “All except one diminish the value of protons. That’s why we have to go to Prague to receive treatment. It costs £65,000 overall, lasting eight weeks” concludes Mr Williams.

But thanks to public donations and a crowd funding website, Samantha managed to raise most of the money to pay for her treatment in Prague.

Today (September 23) marks the last of Samantha’s treatments at Prague Proton Center. She is feeling good and drinking a cup of hot chocolate. She has only mild side effects as a red skin and dry throat but she know this is nothing compared to what could have been the possible long-term or chronic side effects…

Her attitude is amazing. She acknowledges the latest advancements of Western medicine but knows what is simple and works for her. “I take no painkillers, but I like to drink hot water with manuka honey for my throat”, she says. She also drinks protein drinks as she lost some weight during her treatment.

Her attending doctor, Mr Jiri Kubes is positive about her treatment: “Treatment of this type of cancer is one of the most difficult. It is incredible that Samantha can swallow anything and does not need painkillers. What is most important, is that the therapy was very well tolerated and the tumour is now in regression.”

“I am grateful for choosing your centre, The UK Proton Therapy team and Dr Kubes were so supportive from the day one,” says smiling Samantha. “I’m amazed at the kindness and generosity of people so far, I’ve been moved to tears. Despite the difficult times, I felt completely in control of the situation thanks to them. My family was on my side every single day from my 38 visits for proton treatment”, says Samantha.

Read more about Samantha online:

“I enjoyed time spent at Proton center in Prague” says first patient from Pakistan treated with ENT cancer of maxillary sinus

Mr Shah is a young, 34 years old businessman who runs a local industry in Pakistan. Three years ago,he had started suffering from leukoplakia, which appears as white patches in the mouth. Biopsy showed nothing at that time and his doctor said that “he should not worry”, that “it is only a bit of an immunity problem.” When Shah started having toothaches in April this year, he was sent for a biopsy again. This time, the biopsy and subsequent MRI scan showed ENT cancer of maxillary sinus.

Shah's oncologist in Pakistan recommended surgery. At first, Shah was planning to travel to Europe for several reasons – first, the quality of health services; and second, the fact that he became familiar with the European culture throughout his regular business visits. But there was the problem with obtaining an immediate visa, which takes longer for Europe. That is why Shah choose Parkway hospital Singapore. “I did not want to lose my time,” he says.

After the surgery, continuing conventional radiotherapy was recommended. “My family and I studied all possible options online. We found that the Proton Therapy is much better than conventional radiotherapy because of less side effects and effective targeted treatment. I had sent my reports to several European proton centers and received offers from France, Japan, and Germany, but I chose the center in Prague.” Why? “Because of very quick and positive response without prior demands of lot of reports and other information. I asked: May I be treated at your center, and got a reply: '' YES’’. I immediately transferred the funds and flew to Prague.

“Frankly speaking, I got a lot of care and support here; even more than I expected. PTC in Prague cared after me as well as after my family....” explains Mr Shah. “All the staff including doctors were very cooperative and professional.”

Together with his mother, Shah was staying in an apartment just 10 minutes away from the Czech Proton Center. During their stay in Prague they explored the city and enjoyed Czech food. “I felt absolutely fine here and enjoyed my time; had no problem with jumping on the tram every day and talking to the Czech people” says Shah. “I found everybody in Prague very friendly and kind''.
We wish only the best prospective outcome and full recovery to Shah. Thanks to his mother and rest of the family, we are positive, that everything for him will be soon “usual business”.

Thank You PTC Prague

"One phone call helped me feel better", says a patient treated with carcinoma of paranasal sinuses

“It started as a toothache, a swollen face and pressure in my eye“, stated Gabriela, from Slovakia. At first, the physicians thought it was caused by a dental cavity and arranged for a tooth to be removed. However the swelling continued to develop and the physicians sent Gabriela for a CT examination. After two days there was a biopsy and then a (seemingly long) wait for the results.

There wasn't much time to spare– an aggressive carcinoma of the paranasal sinuses was spreading very fast and there was danger of sustaining permanent damage to the eye and other nerves. “At that time, I was confronted with the fact that, in the event of surgery, my nerves would be damaged or that I might lose my sight. Another option was chemotherapy or conventional radiotherapy. I was immediately commenced on two cycles of chemotherapy and understood that I could lose my hair as a result. Since I am working in the field of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, I was not very pleased with this. Subsequently I realised that lose of hair was the least of my problems! Since I am active, do sports and eat well, I didn't have a problem tolerating the chemotherapy - I only lost two kilos."

"After this I had to decide what to do next. At that time, I found out about the Proton Therapy Center in Prague and started reading information about it on the internet. I found out that if I started conventional radiotherapy, I ran the risk of not only losing my hair, but also my sense of taste or even my sight! Risk of damage to the sensitive facial nerves was much higher with conventional radiotherapy, as opposed to protons.”

Gabriela was thrilled when her insurance company agreed to reimburse the cost of proton treatment. She started 38 treatment sessions, and attended the Prague facility in the company of her new husband who provided a great deal of support to her. “Support from family and loved ones is extremely important - especially in the latter half of the treatment process, when treatment starts to become more of a burden.“ Throughout the first four weeks, Gabriela had a combination of chemotherapy and proton radiotherapy. She handled the treatment well and even had time to enjoy Christmas time in Prague. It was only during the last two weeks of treatment that she began to feel tired - a side effect that sometimes occurs during a course of proton therapy and subsides after treatment ends.”Now I have to wait 3 months for the PET/CT, before seeing further signs of progress - I have to stay calm now and get plenty of rest.“

“I really appreciated the human and professional approach at the Prague proton centre. I was able to call my proton oncologist at any time – even before commencing chemotherapy I called her, and she told me: 'Don’t worry, it will be ok - Do this first and then we will continue in Prague.' Unless you've had the same experience, you can't know how important this type of contact with your treating physician can mean to a patient.“

Read more about the story of Gabrieal on Proton Therapy Today HERE 

This experience made me stronger

14-year-old Diana was diagnosed with mediastinum, a tumour off middle chest. It was a rather solid tumour only treatable with a high dose of radiation. Conventional radiotherapy was not necessary due to dose tolerance of the surrounding healthy tissue of the heart or lung.

Diana started with chemoteraphy followed with conventional radiotherapy, however, it was not possible to give a suffucient dose without damaging the healthy tissue around the tumour. At that time, PTC Czech was already accepting paediatric patients for treatment in gantry treatment room.

Diana had found PTC Czech herself on the internet. After one month waiting for her insurance company to give a final statement on reimbursement of the treatment, the center decided to accept her free of charge. She felt great after each treatment visit, did not have any breathing and swallowing problems as after of conventional radiotherapy. She only had a little problem with eating average food since her chemoteraphy course.

She was very satisfied with the care she was given and wants to visit the center even later, to say hello to her doctor. „I won’t be the same person as before. This experience makes you stronger,“ Diana adds.

Source: Proton Therapy Center, May 2013  

First Slovakian Girl Receiving Life-Saving Proton Therapy

Little Veronika is the first patient in Slovakia to receive proton therapy for for an orbital tumour (behind her eye). 7-year old Veronika underwent treatment at the proton therapy center in Prague for a period of five weeks. Her treatment was covered by the Slovakian government's general health insurance program.

Being a safer and more accurate form of cancer treatment, proton therapy allowed the doctors in Prague to more effectively protect sensitive structures in Veronika's affected eye socket during
treatment, namely - the retina, optic nerve, and the lacrimal gland that produces tears, as well as protecting surrounding sensitive brain tissue.

"Veronika tolerated the treatment extremely very well. During proton treatment she also received a course of chemotherapy, which she tolerated superbly." Said Dr. Branislav "Brano" Sepeši, paediatric radiation oncologist at Proton Therapy Center Prague.

So what's next for Veronika?
Veronika has returned home to Slovakia, and has once again commenced her schooling. She will return to the care of her treating paediatric oncologist and may likely receive follow-up chemotherapy, as a preventive measure following her successful proton treatment in Prague.

Surrounded by caring family and staff members, Veronika closed her time at PTC by playing a magical
Professor Proton drum! This announced the end of Veronika's successful proton therapy treatment.

Source: Proton Therapy Center, June 2013