A Pontypridd teenager has returned from America after receiving specialist treatment for a rare form of cancer.
Michael Bowen, who attends Pontypridd High School, spent ten weeks in Jacksonville, Florida undergoing proton beam therapy after being diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer in January 2017.
The family were supported by LATCH Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity who covered the upfront cost of flights, travel insurance and living expenses whilst the family were living in America. LATCH also funds flights for siblings in order to avoid family separation at this difficult time which enabled Michael’s older brother, Morgan, to pay the family a visit.
Michael suffers from a Mesechymal Chondosarcoma, which was discovered by accident after he received a bump to his head. This rare form of cancer has required twelve cycles of chemotherapy to date, as well as an operation to remove the tumour and the recent proton beam therapy.
Proton beam therapy uses a precision high-energy beam of particles to destroy cancer cells. The pioneering radiation therapy causes significantly less damage to surrounding tissue/organs which is especially important for children as their brain is still developing.
Michael’s mum, Rhiannon who is a nurse, said: “The support we’ve received from LATCH and our community has been overwhelming. When we were told ‘you’re flying within the week’, our LATCH Social Worker Helen was calm and guided us well through the process, helping us to book our flights and liaising with the team at the Proton Centre. The advice to join the Proton Facebook page where we were able to chat to other people about the experience was also invaluable.”
She continued: “We really would have struggled without the support of LATCH, and it was especially important to have contact back home so we could keep everyone up to date with the unfolding events which were almost threatened by Hurricane Irma! For 10 months now we’ve benefitted enormously from LATCH’s support, including the use of their on-site accommodation, and I can’t speak highly enough of this wonderful charity and their services for children with cancer and leukaemia as well as their families.”
Michael’s outlook is looking much more hopeful following this revolutionary treatment, and he’s hoping to finish his oncology treatment in January 2018 before he undergoes an operation to fit a titanium plate on his skull.
Rhiannon added: “We are absolutely delighted to be home. Ten weeks is a long time to be away from family and friends. Michael has gone straight back into his chemotherapy treatment and now the end is in sight at last. We just can’t wait for him to get back to school and get back to normality again.”
You can find out more about Proton Beam Therapy at www.nhs.uk/news/cancer/what-is-proton-beam-therapy/