pediatric Archives - Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center

Provision patient remembered for spirit of generosity, hope

By | Brain cancer, Immunotherapy, Patient Experience, Stories, surgery, Uncategorized | No Comments

Philip and Lydia Parks traveled the world in search of a cure for 15-year-old Philip’s aggressive brain cancer that took them to Germany, Israel and Provision.

After multiple surgeries, proton therapy and up-and-coming immunotherapy treatments, his body gave up the fight. Philip died on April 13, 2016. But his mother is dedicated to remembering Philip’s story not as one of sadness but of hope. Read More

St. Jude’s new center puts Tennessee on the proton therapy map

By | Cancer, East Tennessee, Knoxville, Pediatric Cancer, Proton Therapy, Scott Hamilton, Technology, Tennessee, Uncategorized | No Comments

With this week’s opening of a brand new proton therapy treatment center at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Tennessee becomes one of just five states with two proton therapy centers.

There are now 19 proton therapy centers nationwide.

The $90 million St. Jude Red Frog Events Proton Therapy Center has three treatment rooms where children are already receiving proton therapy. St. Jude aims to treat 100 children at the facility by the end of next year.

“Proton therapy is an evolution in delivery of focused radiation therapy that allows us to deliver the highest possible dose to tumors while limiting damage to surrounding tissue,” said Thomas Merchant, chair of St. Jude’s department of radiation oncology. St. Jude is the first children’s hospital to establish a proton therapy center.

For Provision, which also treats pediatric patients with proton therapy at its center in Knoxville, St. Jude’s adoption of the up-and-coming medical technology is an important part of making it more widely known and available to patients who need it, says Scott Warwick, vice president of program development and strategic initiatives for Provision Center for Proton Therapy.

“With St. Jude’s entry into proton therapy, Tennessee has become a center for quality cancer care for children and adults,” Warwick said. “And in a couple of years, when the Scott Hamilton Proton Therapy Center in Franklin, Tenn., proton therapy will be readily available to every resident of Tennessee as well as those in surrounding communities. Our state has become a model for expansion of proton therapy around the world.”

Scott Hamilton, whose growth as a child was hampered by a later-discovered brain tumor, has become an advocate for cancer patients as well as proton therapy. The Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation is developing the new Middle Tennessee Center in partnership with Provision.

“I can’t think of a better Christmas gift for the patients at St. Jude,” Hamilton says. “Onward and upward!”

13-year-old patient continues cancer fight

By | Cancer, Fundraiser, Pediatric Cancer, Stories, Survivors, Uncategorized | No Comments

For some cancer patients, Provision marks the end of their road in treating their disease. For others, it’s just a stop along the way.

That’s the case for 13-year-old Philip Parks, whose gioblastoma, a quickly reproducing brain cancer, required three surgeries and took him to Germany on the quest for a cure before he landed at Provision for proton therapy.

His battle is by no means over.

Next week Philip, his mom Lydia and his younger brother are getting ready to travel to Israel for another type of therapy the family hopes will halt the tumors that keep regrowing in his brain. His mom describes the treatment on a site set up to raise funds for the treatment and trip.

“There is a very hopeful cancer treatment plan at CTCI Centre in Tel Aviv, Israel, that would be administered by Dr Slavin, an expert in immunotherapy who studied at Stanford and has successfully treated and cured many “incurable” cases with immunotherapy. The plan includes dendritic cell vaccines, injected with placenta and cord tissue derived MSCt, two immuno drugs that have passed phase III trials, and an oncolytic virus that has also passed Phase III trials, as well as oncothermia. Both his neuro-oncologist at (the University of Kentucky) and Dr Slavin at CTCI are communicating together, to come up with the most effective way to fight back at the aggressive nature of Phil’s cancer. This will require at least three weeks in Israel.”

The Parks came to Provision Center for Proton Therapy for treatment he needed to keep the tumors at bay while they explored further options, Lydia says. Philip is a gifted student, and Lydia feared the long-term damage conventional radiation would inflict on his developing brain. Proton therapy provides targeted doses of radiation to the specific disease sites with little exposure to surrounding tissue and organs.

“Radiation does buy time with glioblastoma,” Lydia said. “For me, it’s just the hope that he’s going to live and that he’ll have two-thirds more of his brain that’s not been irradiated.”

You can read more about Philip’s journey at ProtonStories.com, a site devoted to the unique journeys of Provision’s proton therapy patients. He was also recently featured in an article in Southeast Outlook, a Christian magazine. It is a privilege to play a part in the brave, hopeful stories of people like Philip and his family.


Not about dying but living—new film shows benefits of patient-centric care

By | Cancer, Culture of Care, Dr. Tamara Vern-Gross, Patient Experience, Patient Hospitality, Pediatric Cancer, Uncategorized | No Comments

Matteo bursts onto the screen, full of life, language and an infectious sense of humor—a personality that overshadows the tracheostomy tube emerging from his neck.

Matteo suffers from Ondine’s syndrome, also known as congenital central hypoventilation syndrome. The rare condition results from an absence of the autonomic impulse to breathe, requiring the individual to require respiratory support equipment during sleep. It can also result in long-term health concerns related to oxygen deprivation such as pulmonary hypertension and heart failure.

But for Matteo, although his long-term future is uncertain, his disease is simply the context of an otherwise normal, happy life. That’s because his family and healthcare providers form a team that not only attend to Matteo’s extensive medical needs but also his quality of life.

This practice of medicine is known as palliative care, and is the subject of a new documentary called “Little Stars: Accomplishing the Extraordinary in the Face of Serious Illness.” Along with Matteo, the film features children from around the world who, in the face of life threatening or life ending illness, have a team of healthcare providers as focused on life’s quality as its quantity.

Many people may be more familiar with palliative care in the context of helping manage the dying process, says Tamara Vern-Gross, radiation oncologist at Provision Center for Proton Therapy and a palliative care specialist. This week she hosted a special viewing of the movie for Provision staff and area health care providers.

“There is often a misconception that palliative care means ‘giving up’ or is strictly limited to end-of-life care,” she says. “In general, palliative is designed to find meaning and help families and patients learn how to live better when faced with a life-limiting or life-threatening illness—whether a patient may live weeks or months or years. It is about finding the cure but also to identify the other things that are important when dealing with a life-altering illness.”

Those needs range from sorting through a myriad of treatment options to financial concerns to family relationships to pain management and addressing a range of emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. And in the case of children, it becomes more complicated as parents try to navigate through the demands of school, work, sibling needs and their own grief. Read More

Kentucky patients flock to Provision

By | Cancer, Clinical Care, Culture of Care, Kentucky, Patient Experience, Pediatric Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Proton Therapy, South, Uncategorized | No Comments

A growing number of Kentuckians are coming to Provision Healthcare for cancer treatment and leaving as advocates of proton therapy in their home state.

More than 20 patients from the Bluegrass State have completed treatment at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy, and the state serves as one of the largest sources of patients next to Provision’s home state of Tennessee. Patients have come to receive treatment for prostate, breast and lung cancer and lymphoma and have included two pediatric patients suffering from brain tumors.

Proton therapy, for me, was a wonderful discovery,” said Glenn Ross, owner of Investment His Way in Elizabethtown, Ky. “I would absolutely recommend proton therapy to anyone diagnosed with cancer.”

After completing treatment for prostate cancer in June, Ross returned home determined to spread the word across the state, sending a release out to Rotary clubs statewide and setting up a support group for proton therapy patients. He has three presentations on proton therapy scheduled so far.

He’s joined by Richard Sutherland, a fellow prostate cancer sufferer with whom he played golf—six rounds in seven days—and marveled at the minimal side effects they suffered while in proton therapy.

“I’ve got 15 or more friends who have had surgery or conventional radiation for prostate cancer, and I was aware of all the side effects they experienced,” Sutherland said. “Then I started reading about proton therapy. I contacted about 25 patients who had the treatment, and every one of them had the conviction that they did the right thing. During my treatment I played a lot of golf. I ate a lot of good food. And I had very few side effects.”

Richard Sutherland & Glenn Ross

Sutherland, a principal of Frankfurt-based Stantec Consulting, an engineering firm that designs transportation projects throughout the U.S.—Sutherland oversees its Kentucky projects—said he is also looking for opportunities to spread the word about Provision.

“I’d shout about it from the mountain-tops if I could,” he said. “Proton therapy is just little known among the population.”

Eleven-year-old Emma Ferrell of Winchester, Ky., found proton therapy to be a relief after enduring both regular and high dose rounds of chemotherapy for a brain tumor.

“It was pretty wonderful,” says Linda Ferrell, Emma’s mother. “Emma’s been through quite a bit over the last year. With the treatment at Provision, it was pretty easy. I’m a huge advocate for proton therapy.”

Emma and her mother were able to stay at the local Ronald McDonald house and, when Emma felt up to it, enjoyed trips to the zoo, the mall and a local herb garden.

For Lydia P., the trip Provision Center for Proton Therapy offered hope as her son Philip—after three surgeries and an unsuccessful immunotherapy treatment in Germany—continues his battle with stage 4 brain cancer.

“I prayed and said, ‘It’s got to be quick and it’s got to be covered (by insurance),” she says. “For me, it’s just the hope that he’s going to live and that he’ll have two-thirds less of his brain that’s irradiated.”

And the experience at Provision provided a place of refuge in a most difficult situation, Lydia says.

“It’s unusual that you have a group of people that care so much about the patients,” she says.

Auto enthusiasts support Provision patient with surprise car show

By | Culture of Care, Patient Experience, Pediatric Cancer, Proton Ambassadors, Proton Therapy, Uncategorized | No Comments

When Philip P. arrived at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy for his last treatment and graduation ceremony, he got more than he bargained for.

Ninety Corvettes, sports cars and hot rods filled the parking lot as more than 200 people from the East Tennessee Corvette Club and its sponsor, Reeder Chevrolet, responded to the call to give Philip, a car lover—of Corvettes especially—his own personal car show.

The 13-year-old from Kentucky, who is suffering from stage 4 brain cancer, made his way with two of his brothers around the lot, sitting in each car and taking a few joy rides.

The event was pulled together quickly, with the help of Provision’s Proton Ambassadors Vince Sica and Joe Hamby (the second patient to be treated at Provision), former ambassador Tom Zuraf and Jerry McDaniel, fixed operations director for Reeder Chevrolet.

McDaniel said he came back from vacation to find an email recruiting Corvette owners for the event—but just three or four had signed up.

“We weren’t getting a response, because it was happening in only a week,” Sica said.

McDaniel went to work, sending out emails to club members, and in the end more than 30 cars showed up. So did an additional 60 autos including a Porsche, two Lamborghinis and various hot rod and muscle cars.

“Considering we had a week to put it together, it worked out very very well, and, most important thing was we gave the young man a great experience to remember,” says Hamby.

McDaniel also went to work on giveaways, and club members donated a trunk full of memorabilia including signed Nascar items, model cars, books and a large collection of hats.

“That made his day,” Hamby said.

That evening, the Corvette club held its monthly meeting, where Sica thanked those who participated in the Provision car show.

“They were all personally, personally touched with the family camaraderie here (at Provision) and the closeness with Philip,” Sica said.

For McDaniel, it was also an opportunity to support proton therapy, something he has become an advocate of through his relationship with Zuraf who was treated with proton therapy and is McDaniel’s neighbor.

“The way Tom has explained proton therapy process, I guess I would say I’m a pretty good advocate of that myself,” he said.

Auto enthusiasts support Prfovision patient


New website focuses on survivor experience

By | Breast Cancer, Cancer, Patient Experience, Pediatric Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Proton Therapy, Stories, Survivors, Uncategorized | No Comments

Cancer may change your life. It shouldn’t define it.

On any given day, the lobby at Provision Proton Therapy Center is full of patients awaiting their turns in the treatment room.

Young and old. Homemakers. Students. Business owners. Musicians. Factory workers. Teachers. Pilots. Engineers. Doctors. From all over the country. All over the world.

Cancer, the great equalizer.

But at Provision, we don’t celebrate cancer. We celebrate life.

Meet Emma, whose journey brought her from China to a new family in Kentucky. Meet Patty, a make-up artist who frequents local TV sets and is on a first-name basis with Peyton Manning. Meet Mary, whose proton therapy treatment allowed her to easily resume her active life as an antique finisher and volunteer. Meet James, who claims martial arts, the military and music in equal measure. Meet Ryan, who’s bravely fighting a brain tumor with quiet grace and humor. Meet Walt, who faced cancer like any other adventure in life—from flying helicopters to ice hockey to road biking.

Not cases. Not charts. Not charge numbers. What we treat at Provision are people.

ProtonStories.com tells their stories. Check it out today—and there’s much more to come.