When your only child is diagnosed with cancer, you cross oceans and continents to make sure she gets the treatment she needs. That’s what brought Tina Zhu to Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville, where she received treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma.
Tina’s parents Angela and Alex first noticed something was wrong when seven-year-old Tina began to experience pain when she lay down at night. At first, local doctors diagnosed her with intestinal issues and gave her a prescription, but when the problem didn’t go away, a CT scan revealed a tumor on her back.
The family lives in Shanghai, and as soon as the Zhus learned of her diagnosis, they made plans to travel overseas for treatment. “We didn’t want to stay in Shanghai,” said the Zhus, sharing their perspective through an interpreter. “There are so many patients in China. We wanted treatment quickly, and we wanted the best treatment, so we decided to come to the United States.”The family had friends in Delaware, so they traveled there first, where Tina received chemotherapy treatment for two months. Her doctors suggested that she needed radiation treatment as well.
After considering proton therapy—recommended for many pediatric cancer cases due to the limited amount of radiation exposure to healthy, surrounding tissue and organs—the Zhus contemplated treatment at proton therapy centers in both Florida and New Jersey before deciding to come to Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville. They chose Knoxville because of the nearby children’s hospital, as well as the overall cost of treatment and accommodations.
Angela and Alex had never heard of Knoxville before arriving for Tina’s treatment — although Tennessee is famous in China, thanks to country music and Elvis Presley. Welcoming a break from her treatments, they all visited the Knoxville Zoo, and went to Gatlinburg, where Tina was able to ride a horse. Tomo Japanese Restaurant was a family favorite during their stay thanks to its udon noodles, one of the few foods Tina felt like eating.
The Zhus expressed they were happy with their decision, and that Provision made their experience an easy and happy one, considering the circumstances. “We had good expectations, but when we got here it was even beyond our expectations,” said Mrs. Zhu. “All the doctors and nurses are very caring. It relieved the pressure.”