Patient Receives Proton Therapy on Two Separate Diagnoses at Once
“I had never seen any place like Texas Center for Proton Therapy. At the end, I was actually sad to leave.”
Carcinoma Ex Pleomorphic Adenoma and Breast Survivor
She had been to China, Russia, Vietnam, Paris and many other European countries, but in October 2017, Sharon Carrell never thought she would be visiting an oncologist in Kerrville, Texas. It was there that she was diagnosed with carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma of the parotid gland, a salivary gland that is on the side of the face – a gland she didn’t even know was there.
Two surgeries later, the gland and 23 lymph nodes were removed. Sharon was then told she needed to have radiation. "I started doing my research and found proton therapy," which not many people in Kerrville had heard about, she said. Amidst her research, less than four months after her diagnosis, in January 2018, she faced yet another road block: breast cancer.
After a breast lumpectomy, Sharon was again told she needed radiation. “I was getting a little tired of hearing that!" she said. "I then called Texas Center for Proton Therapy and arranged for a consultation." Sharon met with Dr. Jared Sturgeon, who remained "calm and caring and answered all of my questions."
"What really convinced me is that the proton beam can be programmed to hit the tumor and not go all the way through your body, thus saving the body from unnecessary damage,” Sharon said. After scheduling her first appointment, she and her husband prepared for their journey to North Texas and parked their motor home at a site just nine miles from the Center. There they stayed through her entire treatment. Sharon began proton therapy in March and was scheduled to be treated five days a week for six weeks, totaling 30 treatments. With a process that is not normally done, Texas Center for Proton Therapy treated both her parotid gland and her breast at the same time. "That was a real blessing,” she said.
With no noticeable side effects during treatment, Sharon was able to plan a cross-country road trip with her husband. Two weeks after finishing treatment, she loaded up her motor home to head west. She spent some time in California and Arizona, made it back to Texas to recoup at home with family and began packing her bags again. Next stop: Maine, a mere 2,300-mile drive from Kerrville.
Although Sharon is on the road again, she is excited to reunite with staff at the Center when she has future checkups. "I had never seen any place like Texas Center for Proton Therapy. I really looked forward to going every day and seeing all the staff. At the end, I was actually sad to leave."