PHOTOS // COURTESY OF MCLAREN
McLaren Health Care recently announced the introduction of a new weapon in its arsenal of cancer-fighting technology: proton therapy.
It is the most powerful and precise radiation oncology treatment available and is located on McLaren’s campus of the Karmanos Cancer Institute right here in Flint. Chad Grant, president and CEO of McLaren Flint, says that their worldclass facility joins an exclusive club of facilities using proton therapy technology, becoming one of only 29 regional proton therapy centers in the United States. He adds, “The McLaren Proton Therapy Center is part of the largest cancer treatment network in the state of Michigan – the Karmanos Cancer Network – and we are committed to cuttingedge treatment and care for our patients. It is who we are – it is our commitment to the community and the patients we are privileged to serve.”
Dr. Hesham Gayar, radiation oncologist and medical director of the McLaren Proton Therapy Center, explains that the benefit of this treatment is that the radiation IN THE KNOW stops at the target and thus, patients experience fewer side effects and complications when healthy tissues and organs are spared unnecessary radiation – that is the power of proton therapy. It accurately and precisely targets the tumor while sparing healthy tissue more than any other form of radiation therapy. In fact, there is virtually no “exit dose” of radiation beyond the tumor volume, which means the protons stop at the tumor and do not continue to harm healthy parts of the body.
This technology has been in use at the McLaren Proton Center since December 2018 and doctors have performed 1400 treatments to date. Their goal is to administer this treatment to 100 patients this year.
Flint resident David Wood – the first patient to use the McLaren Proton Center treatment and now affectionately known as “Proton 1,” explains that the procedure includes 45 treatments, five days per week at 30 to 40 minutes per treatment. Being local, he was able to commute to his treatment. However Dr. Gayar notes the adjacent Hospitality House at McLaren offers a unique service providing a convenient, comfortable, low-cost lodging option for patients and their families who are traveling long distances to receive care at McLaren Flint.
Wood also talked about the joyous day when he “rang the bell” – his victory bell. Victory bells can be found at cancer treatment centers around the world. This bellringing tradition began in 1996 at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Irve Le Moyne, the nation’s highest-ranking Navy SEAL and founder of the Naval Special Warfare Command, toted a brass bell on his last day of treatment. He explained to his doctor that sailors traditionally ring a bell upon completing a job. He also recited a short poem, which is now routinely posted alongside other victory bells:
Ring this bell Three times well Its toll to clearly say, My treatment’s done This course is run And I am on my way!
David Wood was grateful that he was able to ring the McLaren Proton Center’s bell for the first time!
Proton therapy most often treats solid tumors and is particularly applicable to certain cancers including:
• Bladder cancer
• Brain and central nervous system cancer
• Breast cancer
• Esophageal cancer
• Head, neck and skull base cancer
• Kidney cancer
• Liver cancer
• Pediatric tumors
• Prostate cancer
• Spine and chest wall cancer
• Select gynecological and gastrointestinal cancer
• Recurrent disease
For more information about the McLaren Proton Therapy Center, visit: www.mclaren.org/protontherapy or call 855-697-7686 (855-MYPROTON).