“At just six years old, Lily was very aware she wasn’t the same after surgery. She would get upset when she couldn’t do all the things the other kids were doing. She is very strong, and she got through it. ”
-Tracy Botham: Mother of Lily Rose Botham, Cancer Survivor
To our patients – we are so grateful for each of you and your loved ones that put trust in our team and our facility for your cancer care. You are why we do what we do and we were blessed to meet so many of you last year. In fact, 2021 was the busiest year in Oklahoma Proton Center’s history as we delivered 14,258 treatments to well over 500 patients.
We continue to serve patients with a variety of different cancers from all over the country. We had patients come from as far away as Oregon and California and as close as down the street from the center. We treated patients from nearly every county in Oklahoma. We treated patients with 90 unique cancer diagnoses from as young as 10 years old up to….well, a little bit older.
We also were excited to open up a state of the art high risk genetic screening program as an offering for our patients and their families. Dr. Alan Hollingsworth, one of the pioneers in cancer genetic screening is overseeing that program along with Courtney Carrier, one of the newest members of the Oklahoma Proton Center team.
We made significant progress towards upgrading our equipment to pencil beam scanning, the latest in proton delivery technology. We anticipate this technology being available starting later this spring or early summer.
Our staff did a great job keeping everyone safe while providing excellent care as we continued to deal with the impact of the coronavirus. We weren’t able to do everything we wanted to from a patient services and survivorship standpoint in 2021 as a result of COVID-19. But we are beginning to open back up some of these programs including survivorship receptions, cyclotron tours, and patient graduation luncheons as we move forward into 2022. Check out our Facebook page or website for more information on these events.
Again – we want to thank you, the patients and your families, for supporting us as we do our best to serve and care for you. You are a blessing to our team and we will strive to continue to provide world class care and compassion for years to come.
Lily Rose Botham
From England to Oklahoma for Cancer Treatment
The year is 2012, just after Christmas. While most young children are occupied playing with friends and sharing the new toys Santa brought, six-year-old Lily Rose Botham was rushed into the hospital and subjected to 16-hour brain surgery.
Plagued by headaches and too sick Christmas Day to interact with her family, Lily’s parents brought her into Leeds hospital, where an MRI revealed a brain tumor that needed surgery immediately. The tumor had wrapped itself around Lily’s nerves, making the surgery very complicated and high risk. Surgeons removed the tumor bit by bit, and finally, after hours of being under, the procedure was complete.
After spending over a week in intensive care and a total of three weeks in the hospital post-surgery, Lily had to relearn many of the things that are second nature to most people, like eating and walking. The road to recovery would be long, but it was time to discuss the next phase of treating Lily’s cancer.
For children like Lily, who are diagnosed at such a young age and whose brains are still developing, finding a suitable form of treatment was crucial. When her doctors suggested proton therapy as a treatment option to help minimize further brain damage, the choice seemed obvious. Brain and spine tumors are the second most common cancers in children.
The brain controls many vital facets of everyday life, including emotions, thought, speech, vision, hearing, and movement. After already undergoing damage from surgery that affected her hearing, the collateral damage to healthy areas of the brain from traditional radiation likely would have left her deaf. During this time in 2012, proton therapy in the UK was limited.
When Lily’s team of doctors suggested treatment in the United States, specifically Oklahoma, Tracy knew it was the best option.
The length of the treatment process for proton therapy in children is typically five to seven weeks. Lily was prescribed 33 treatments and spent almost 8 weeks at Oklahoma Proton Center.
Nine years later…
I recently had the opportunity to visit with Lily and her mother, Tracy, via a Zoom call and see how she was doing nearly 10 years post-treatment. At sixteen years old, Lily sits at the computer somewhat shy and leans on her mom often to share her experience.
Lily’s mother, Tracy, is animated and paladin during the call. A true warrior for her daughter’s cause. She tells of being nervous about coming to the United States on her own with Lily. A mother of four, Tracy had to leave the other three children home with their father to be able to give one hundred percent of her attention to Lily, who required lots of care.
One of her biggest fears coming to the US was getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road. After some practice, she had it in the bag! Tracy goes on to tell of meeting other families during their time here. Lily made many friends, but two other children left an impact on her. One of those children shared the same rare type of brain cancer as Lily.
When she wasn’t in treatment, Lily and her mother would visit local tourist attractions around Oklahoma City with some of the other families. The Oklahoma Western Heritage Museum and the Science Museum of Oklahoma, to name a few.
When asked what was one memory that stood out to them during Lily’s treatment, Tracy describes seeing Lily carried out of the treatment room on the shoulders of her radiation therapist with a big grin on her face. Lily required a wheelchair to get around for the first few years after surgery. This was just one small gesture that made a big difference to a mother who loved to see her daughter smile during these difficult times.
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: COURTNEY CARRIER, MPH, MSN, APRN, NP-C
High Risk Breast Cancer Nurse
“I am very excited to start this new chapter here at Oklahoma Proton Center!”
Oklahoma Proton Center is grateful to have Courtney Carrier join the team! Courtney will be running our new genetics program that offers genetic testing, counseling, and treatment options for pathogenic mutations.
Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Courtney graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in science and a master’s degree in Public Health. She worked as an epidemiologist
for 5 years before going back to school to become a nurse practitioner.
Realizing there was only so much she could do from behind a desk, Courtney decided to go back to school where she received her Bachelor of Nursing degree from the University of Oklahoma followed by a master’s in nursing from Maryville University. As a nurse she worked in the intensive care unit and acute hemodialysis for 7 years.
Courtney currently assists with the Spaceoar, fiducials, and biopsy procedures at Oklahoma Proton Center. She is also seeing post-op and follow-up breast patients. Courtney is nationally certified with the Cancer Genetics and Risk Association (CGRA) and is currently the only one in the state of OK with this certification.
Courtney met her husband in graduate school and they’ve been inseparable since. They have three beautiful children, Kamber (12), Kymbree (10), and Kason (5). Courtney and her family love traveling and spending time at their lake house with family and friends.
Oklahoma Proton Center is excited to have Courtney join us, and we look forward to all that she has to offer!
LATEST UPDATES FROM PPF
Drive Out Cancer
Annual Charity Golf Event
June 3, 2002
Rose Creek Golf Course
DRIVE OUT CANCER GOLF TOURNAMENT
Join us for the 3rd annual Proton Pals Foundation Golf Tournament on June 3, 2022 at Rose Creek golf course.
Teams are $600 ($150/player) while sponsorships begin at $250.
In addition to players, sponsors and in-kind donations, we are also in need of volunteers to help during the tournament.
Sponsorship and registration details can be found at
*9:00 a.m Tee Time
PROTON PALS FOUNDATION
Proton Pals is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) public charity with the mission to create and develop positive relationships that make a difference in the lives of proton therapy patients while assisting patients and their families with financial, psychological, and physical support that will enhance and improve their quality of life.
Proton Pals Foundation provides, at no charge, a wide range of support services for people affected by cancer and their loved ones. Programs are available to proton therapy patients with cancer and at any stage of the cancer journey.
Oklahoma Proton Center offers a comprehensive genetic screening program to help identify patients with a genetic predisposition to cancer and make informed decisions about their healthcare. A patient interested in genetic cancer screening will meet with a provider to discuss their family history of cancer and the benefits of the test. If the patient and clinical provider determine that a test is appropriate, then a blood or saliva sample is collected and sent to a lab for testing. The results of the test come back within about two weeks. At that point, a member of the Oklahoma Proton Center clinical team will follow up with the patient to discuss their results.
Clinical genetic testing looks for variations or mutations in your genes that may lead to illness or disease. Genetic cancer testing (or “screening”) specifically looks for gene mutations that might lead to a higher risk of cancer or might provide information about how to better treat a cancer diagnosis. Oklahoma Proton Center offers a comprehensive genetic cancer screening program utilizing the most accurate tests available today.
Before you have genetic cancer screening, gather as much information as possible about your family’s medical history. Then, talk with your doctor or a genetic counselor about your personal and family medical history to better understand your risk. If a person has cancer caused by a genetic mutation, then their family members may be at an increased risk for that same disease. The results from the genetic cancer test can help guide on-going screen or treatment.
Should you have genetic testing?
If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, hereditary cancer genetic testing may be an option for you and/or your family members to consider
- Have you or your family members* been diagnosed with cancer at a young age (50 or younger)
- Have you or your family members been diagnosed with cancers that are usually rare, like ovarian cancer or male breast cancer?
- Have you or your family members* been diagnosed with more than one cancer?
- Have three or more people on the same side of your family had cancer?
- Are you of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry?
- Has anyone in your family been found to have a heredity gene mutation?
*”Family” or “Family members” here refers to blood relatives, such as siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles/cousins
More than 1.8 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Unfortunately, only 1% will be treated with proton therapy for their fight. The underutilization of Proton Therapy is due to a lack of awareness for this powerful treatment of cancer.
Sponsored by Proton Centers throughout the United States, Proton Fight Club is a national awareness campaign for proton therapy; join patients and frontline fighters in their quest to fight cancer head-on with the most advanced radiation treatment in the world.
Want to get involved? We would love to have you join the club. Check out our Facebook group by clicking HERE
WHY WE SHARE
Sharing your cancer experience enables you to look at your circumstance in a new light. It allows you to become an observer rather than a victim, to use the challenge as a source of strength, and to inspire hope for future survivors. Read some courageous stories from our inspiring survivors by clicking below.
If you’d like to share your story, please reach out to Heather Jacobson at HJacobson@OKCProton.com and she will be in touch will additional details.
Want to share but don’t feel like much of an author? No problem! We will provide the tools, resources, and support you need to document your experience. Whether you want to share publicly or simply keep for personal reflection, we are here to help.