BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A woman traveled halfway around the world for treatment in Maryland as National Cancer Survivors Day was celebrated on Sunday.
A rare form of cancer, chondrosarcoma, a tumor based on the skull, and the persistence of Emma Cappel most likely saved her life.
Cappel has been all smiles and the life of the party even in a cancer treatment room, but it wasn’t even a year ago, back in her home country of Australia, when she realized something was wrong.
She started losing hearing in one ear and her eyes wouldn’t focus.
“The hospital didn’t know what it was. They referred me to a surgeon who did the biopsy and even then when I asked everybody how many of these cases have you seen, they are like, maybe two,” Cappel said.
So she started doing her own research and a chondrosarcoma diagnosis brought her to the Maryland Proton Treatment Center in Baltimore for proton therapy.
Doctors said she has a rare tumor of the bone based in her skull.
“And for my particular kind of cancer, you only get one shot at radiation, the body remembers it. Because I had done my research, I learned that proton treatment was really the only way to go,” she said.
Doctors said the new form of treatment may very well be the medical breakthrough many patients need mainly because of its precision.
“As cancer patients are living longer, there are risks of getting side effects from the treatment, so proton therapy may be one more tool in our cancer fighting tool shed that can help our patients reduce their side effects from treatment,” said Dr. Charles Simone of the Maryland Proton Treatment Center.
Doctors said the treatment helps to better control tumors.
The end of the journey will be bittersweet for Cappel.
“I’m halfway there, and it’s bitter sweet. I don’t want to finish, I love the place, this is my home, Baltimore, I know where I am at, and the same time I have lots of people waiting for me,” she said.
Cappell has 35 treatments. She’s now halfway through.
The center said this form of treatment can be used to treat tumors in adults and children. Doctors said they are excited about the prospect of Emma being cured.