AN Atherton youngster is spearheading an appeal by the Christie to bring the UK’s first high energy proton beam therapy service to the hospital.
This time four years ago young Lucas Thorpe was fighting for his life in Jacksonville, Florida.
Lucas, now four, was diagnosed with cancer, when he was just eight months old and his parents, Jodie Rothwell and Dale Thorpe, got the news that is every parent’s worst nightmare.
Doctors told the devastated couple that their baby son had a tumour on his bladder.
Mum, Jodie Rothwell, said: “Treating Lucas’s bladder area with standard radiation could easily have damaged his developing hip bones resulting in him being in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He was too fragile for this kind of conventional treatment and doctors suggested that Proton Beam Therapy was the only alternative.”
Unfortunately, Proton Beam Therapy was only available abroad. This meant splitting the family apart over Christmas as Lucas and his parents travelled to Jacksonville, Florida, leaving his older brother Jordan in Wigan.
A long plane journey was the last thing that a desperately sick child with a low immune system needed. Lucas was so ill when he arrived that he was rushed straight into intensive care, where he was diagnosed as suffering from septicaemia, meningitis and pneumonia.
Jodie added: “The septicaemia caused Lucas to lose half of his right foot and the tips of his toes, as well as the tips of his fingers.
“On Christmas Eve, the doctors had to tell us that Lucas wasn’t going to make it and we requested the priest give him a final blessing. I have never felt so utterly devastated and helpless as I did at that moment.”
Incredibly, Lucas did make it. After days of worry and against all the odds he recovered and was finally able to receive the Proton Beam Therapy he desperately needed.
Jodie said: “We wept with relief when we found out.”
Without Proton Beam Therapy, Lucas’s story could have ended very differently.
Now, the Christie NHS Foundation Trust together with partners, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust are working with the Department of Health to bring the UK’s first high energy proton beam therapy service to Manchester.
Currently the NHS sends children needing Proton Beam Therapy to the United States and Switzerland but from 2018 The Christie, along with University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will be treating patients with this cutting edge technique.
Jodie said: “Because the therapy is still in its early stages, Lucas suffered third degree burns on his stomach after the treatment in America. That’s why I’m so pleased that Proton Beam Therapy is coming to The Christie and I know that the scientists at The Christie can make it work even better.”
Lucas’s story is now the focus of the appeal for funds directly for Proton Beam Therapy research at The Christie.
To donate and for more information visit www.christies.org