Mason Strong:  One teenage boys fight against pediatric brain cancer brings together an entire community.

No parent wants to hear that their child has cancer.  Unfortunately, those were the words Ginger and Richard Cobble, parents of son Mason Cobble, 16, heard on Tuesday February 26, 2019.  Mason is a sophomore at Walker Valley High School in Cleveland, TN and an overall healthy child.  On Friday morning, February 22nd of 2019, Mason had a seizure and was later diagnosed with Glioblastoma multiforme GBM, a rare brain cancer in children.  He immediately had surgery to remove the tumor followed by proton therapy radiation at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville.

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that can be used in conjunction with pencil beam scanning technology.  The combination allows radiation oncologists to precisely target the tumor, minimizing the dose of radiation received to nearby healthy tissues and organs.  Because children and adolescents are growing, their tissue is more sensitive to radiation and its potential for negative side effects. The American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) ranks using proton therapy to treat solid tumors in pediatric patients with the highest importance (ASTRO Model Policy, 2014).  For Brain tumors, proton therapy can minimize negative side effects that include developmental delays, hearing loss, damage to salivary glands and hormone deficiencies.

A recent study presented at the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology Congress  (ESTRO) compared three types of radiotherapy for pediatric brain tumors and found that in pediatric brain tumors, pencil beam scanning proton therapy consistently delivered the lowest amount of radiation to the hippocampus and temporal lobes, areas of the brain that are vital for memory function.  Laura Toussaint, a PhD student in the Department of Medical Physics, presented the study and said, “alongside surgery and chemotherapy, radiotherapy plays an important role in treating brain tumors in children, but we need to protect children’s developing brains from unnecessary radiation.  The more we learn about how to effectively target brain tumors while minimizing the dose to other parts of the brain, the better we can preserve children’s cognitive abilities and quality of life after treatment.”

After seeking the opinion of several medical professionals, Mason Cobble started proton therapy treatment at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville.  In a post on the Team Mason Strong Facebook page, Mason’s mom Ginger Cobble said, “It is such a blessing that Provision Proton Radiation Therapy is in Knoxville.  So thankful we get to treatment so close to home.”  The Chattanooga and Cleveland Tennessee community has pulled together to support Mason in his fight against cancer.  His story has been featured in the Cleveland Banner, on News Channel 9, on area radio stations and other media outlets.

On Wednesday May 8, 2019 Mason rang the bell as he graduated from his treatment at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville.  He still has a fight ahead of him with more chemotherapy treatments and participation in a clinical trial at Duke, but the staff at Provision is thankful for him and are #TEAMMASONSTRONG.

Experts Agree: Proton Therapy is an Excellent Choice for Treating Pediatric Cancers

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The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the world’s premier organization in Radiation Oncology, states that “solid tumors in children are considered among the highest priority for proton therapy”in its Model Policy.  Based on this prioritization, a group of 24 internationally recognized leaders in the various specialties in oncology, convened in 2015 to define proton therapy’s role in pediatric cancers, identify which cases yield the most benefit from a limited resource, and set priorities for future development in the field.

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Pediatric Art Therapy at Provision

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Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville has been treating a growing number of pediatric patients over the past few months. To help children feel more comfortable while they are here for treatments, the pediatric team hosted Provision’s first Pediatric Art Therapy session on July 24th.

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Summer Camp Round Up for Kids (& Kids at Heart)

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Content and information provided by Marriah Mabe, LCSW at Provision CARES Proton Therapy.

For many kids (and kids at heart), summer camps are one of the best parts of summer and are often a normal part of childhood.  As most families who have experienced cancer can attest, normalcy during cancer treatment is extremely important. However, when a cancer diagnosis affects a child or parent in the family, summer camp might not be an option due to a child’s medical needs or the lack of extra finances to pay for traditional summer camps. Fortunately, there are many camps specifically designed for children with cancer, siblings, or even the whole family. The camp experience can provide positive benefits that will last long after summer ends. Camp attendance may help lessen feelings of anxiety, depression, or loneliness and increase self-esteem, body positivity or coping abilities.

Camps and retreats such as the resources listed here are specially curated to provide a fun week of activities away from the hospital and appointments, while allowing those in attendance to meet other patients, survivors, or family members, and learn that they are not alone. Camps will often have full time care for campers, with most of the overnight camps offering on-site medical facilities staffed with oncology providers who can administer chemo or other medical care if necessary. However, if you are on active treatment for cancer, you will need to discuss your desire to attend a camp or retreat with your oncologist. (more…)

Latest research shows benefit of proton therapy for children with head and neck cancer

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Thousands of cancer patients have and could benefit from proton therapy, and children definitely top the list.

This week, exciting news has emerged from the renowned Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia confirming that proton therapy effectively treats pediatric cancers of the head and neck and reduces the side effects often experience with conventional radiation treatment.

It’s one more step toward growing and full recognition of proton therapy in the medical community as a state-of-the-art treatment option for cancer. (more…)

Child with rare cancer seeks proton therapy

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Even as the lump on Lucas Jones’s lower abdomen did not respond to antibiotics and grew at an alarming rate, his parents didn’t imagine cancer.

“It was a shock,” said Robert Jones, eight-year-old Lucas’s father and son of Knoxville music store owner Bill Jones. (more…)