Walker Huggins: From Young Cowboy to Cancer Patient
After this experience, I learned that God has helped me through everything. I want to thank all my nurses and doctors for everything they’ve done for me. I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.
Brain Cancer Survivor
Walker Huggins, a 16-year-old from Midland, Texas, is known as one of the youngest music directors in the rodeo industry. A true cowboy at heart, Walker got his start with the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) at age 11. Working with his dad to direct music for rodeo events around Texas, Walker had big plans for the upcoming rodeo season. However, in early 2022, Walker’s world suddenly shifted.
Change of Plans
On Jan. 25, 2022, Walker was taken to Midland Memorial Hospital. “For three weeks, I just wasn’t feeling like myself. I was lying in bed all day, when I’m normally out with my friends,” said Walker. “One day it got worse, and I had a seizure. We knew I needed to go to the hospital and that this wasn’t normal.”
Walker had two CT scans, which revealed two brain tumors, and he was immediately transferred to a pediatric hospital in Fort Worth. Walker underwent an almost eight-hour surgery to remove a tumor the size of a baseball that was intertwined in his brain and near the cerebellum. The tumor was successfully removed and sent to testing.
In early February, Walker was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer that primarily affects children and young adults. With another tumor yet to be removed, doctors were concerned about the level of risk and post-operation issues involved in its removal, but three hours into surgery Walker’s family learned that the removal was successful.
Marking Milestones and Making History
On Feb. 28, 2022, Walker met with Victor S. Mangona, M.D., radiation oncologist at Texas Center for Proton Therapy, who recommended a six-week course of proton therapy. “For patients like Walker with brain cancer, proton therapy treatment works to eliminate cancerous cells and minimize exposure to non-targeted, healthy tissue surrounding the brain,” said Dr. Mangona. “As a result, patients get the benefit of precise tumor targeting, with a lower risk for potential side effects.”
Since 2015, Texas Center for Proton Therapy has treated thousands of patients from throughout the U.S. In fact, Walker was the center’s 3,000 th patient – marking a milestone for both Walker and Texas Center for Proton Therapy.
“Our goal at Texas Center for Proton Therapy is providing leading-edge cancer care in an environment that is friendly and welcoming,” said Andrew K. Lee, M.D., MPH, medical director at Texas Center for Proton Therapy. “We try to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
On April 11, 2022, Walker celebrated his last proton therapy treatment with family and friends nearby to cheer on this milestone in Walker’s cancer journey. In the summer of 2022, he will begin 16 weeks of intensive chemotherapy treatment.
The Road Ahead
Throughout his journey, Walker has remained positive. He believes he was chosen to experience brain cancer to show others that no matter what they are going through, God has a plan. “After this experience, I learned that God has helped me through everything. I want to thank all my nurses and doctors for everything they’ve done for me. I’m finally starting to feel like myself again,” said Walker.
Walker plans to continue telling his story throughout his cancer treatment and hopes to inspire others to walk to their own beat no matter the circumstances.
Learn more about proton therapy for brain or pediatric cancer or call 469-513-5500 to find out if proton therapy is the right treatment option for you or a loved one.
The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.