Published: 00:01, 19 January 2015
A 14-year-old Kent girl is back home after life-saving proton therapy in the US - the same treatment received by Ashya King late last year after his parents fled the UK.
Chanel Alldis, who lives with her grandmother Sue Lintini in Willesborough, was diagnosed with a recurrent hypothalamic pilocytic astrocytoma in 2013 when she was rushed to London’s King’s College Hospital with a brain haemorrhage.
She stayed at the hospital for 19 weeks.
After a series of MRI and CTI scans showing the recurring tumour on her brain, Chanel, a Year 10 pupil at The John Wallis Academy, in Millbank Road, Stanhope, was referred to the ProCure proton center in Oklahoma in the United States, along with seven other young tumour patients from the UK, by The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.
In November last year Chanel and her grandmother were flown out to ProCure where she received a nine-week course of proton beam therapy treatment, funded by the NHS.
Ms Lintini and Chanel returned home last Friday, after the 30 treatments of proton beam therapy were completed.
Chanel said: “I am very happy that proton beam therapy will be available in the UK in a few years.
“I am feeling better now. Everyone made me feel so welcome at ProCure and while I was having treatment I made new friends.”
“The doctors were jokey with the children and made them feel relaxed. Chanel was tearful and nervous when we flew out there but they kept her at ease. They were brilliant” - Ms Lintini
Proton beam therapy is a specialist form of radiotherapy which targets certain cancers, increasing success rates and reducing side-effects such as growth deformity, loss of hearing and lowered IQ.
A gantry machine rotates around the patient at different angles to deliver a beam of protons specifically at the tumour, meaning the dose of radiation is more precise and effective.
Ms Lintini said: “One hundred British children and families are treated in America each year. Not a lot of people have heard of proton beam therapy. I had never heard of it. It needs to be promoted because the treatment is marvellous.
“The staff at ProCure were so lovely and friendly. We got to know the other families who were there for treatments and we really felt like a big happy family.
“The doctors were jokey with the children and made them feel relaxed. Chanel was tearful and nervous when we flew out there but they kept her at ease. They were brilliant.”
Chanel now hopes to return to school within a few weeks.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We are investing £250m in new high energy proton beam therapy facilities, in Manchester and in London, which will be available to treat patients in 2018.”
Five-year-old Ashya, who suffers from brain cancer, hit the headlines when his parents took him out of a UK hospital, without doctors' consent, to seek treatment from a Czech proton therapy centre.
The move sparked an international hunt and the family went into hiding in Spain after fleeing the UK.
Ashya’s speech has improved since the treatment and after being in a hospital bed for months he is now about to walk.
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