Parents say Sam is reacting well to tumour therapy

TREATMENT Sam John in Florida
TREATMENT Sam John in Florida
Lesley Pitts, left, the chairman of the Portsmouth branch of the Student Nurses Association, wearing the old uniform, and Margaret Morrison, steward of the Portsmouth branch of the Royal College of Nurses, wearing the new uniform which nurses say is impractical

THIS WEEK IN 1974: Student nurses uniform protest

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THE parents of Sam John, who has an inoperable brain tumour, say he’s reacting well to treatment to stop it growing.

Steve and Victoria John, of Fareham, are in America, with their 16-year-old son Sam.

So far the Neville Lovett school pupil has had three treatments of proton beam therapy (PBT) and will be in the USA for another seven weeks.

Victoria said: ‘Sam’s doing well over here, he’s had his first three treatments now.

‘That’s 28 more treatments before we can think about coming home.

‘The good news is the therapy will definitely miss his pituitary gland – something they wouldn’t have been able to do in Southampton.

‘But his hypothalamus and the top of his brain stem will be getting the full brunt of the proton.

‘Short-term side-effects may be just losing some hair where the beams have gone through.’

The first session lasted 45 minutes, but since then it has been reduced to 30 minutes.

At the end of each session, Sam gets to ring giant chimes placed in the Florida hospital.

PBT is a precise form of radiotherapy, which is used to help treat cancers.

It works by using charged particles instead of X-rays to deliver a dose of radiotherapy for patients which is more precise to the tumour, and causes minimal damage to surrounding tissue.

Sam must wear a custom-made mask in order to protect his face, while he has the treatment.

Plans are being looked at for PBT to be provided in the UK.

An advisory group has recommended there are around 1,500 patients in England each year – including 250 children – for whom PBT would be the best treatment.

It is hoped the service will be available in the UK within the next six years.

But for now patients must travel abroad for the treatment.

As previously reported, Sam was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour when he was nine years old.

In March this year, tests revealed the tumour had started growing again.

The PBT costs at least £100,000, and at first the Johns were not sure if the NHS would pay.

Through donations and various fundraisers, the family have raised £120,000, and the NHS said it will pay towards the treatment too, so the family has used some money to pay for their costs while in Florida and will donate the rest to charity.