“It started as a toothache, a swollen face and pressure in my eye“, stated Gabriela, from Slovakia. At first, the physicians thought it was caused by a dental cavity and arranged for a tooth to be removed. However the swelling continued to develop and the physicians sent Gabriela for a CT examination. After two days there was a biopsy and then a (seemingly long) wait for the results.
There wasn't much time to spare– an aggressive carcinoma of the paranasal sinuses was spreading very fast and there was danger of sustaining permanent damage to the eye and other nerves. “At that time, I was confronted with the fact that, in the event of surgery, my nerves would be damaged or that I might lose my sight. Another option was chemotherapy or conventional radiotherapy. I was immediately commenced on two cycles of chemotherapy and understood that I could lose my hair as a result. Since I am working in the field of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, I was not very pleased with this. Subsequently I realised that lose of hair was the least of my problems! Since I am active, do sports and eat well, I didn't have a problem tolerating the chemotherapy - I only lost two kilos."
"After this I had to decide what to do next. At that time, I found out about the Proton Therapy Center in Prague and started reading information about it on the internet. I found out that if I started conventional radiotherapy, I ran the risk of not only losing my hair, but also my sense of taste or even my sight! Risk of damage to the sensitive facial nerves was much higher with conventional radiotherapy, as opposed to protons.”
Gabriela was thrilled when her insurance company agreed to reimburse the cost of proton treatment. She started 38 treatment sessions, and attended the Prague facility in the company of her new husband who provided a great deal of support to her. “Support from family and loved ones is extremely important - especially in the latter half of the treatment process, when treatment starts to become more of a burden.“ Throughout the first four weeks, Gabriela had a combination of chemotherapy and proton radiotherapy. She handled the treatment well and even had time to enjoy Christmas time in Prague. It was only during the last two weeks of treatment that she began to feel tired - a side effect that sometimes occurs during a course of proton therapy and subsides after treatment ends.”Now I have to wait 3 months for the PET/CT, before seeing further signs of progress - I have to stay calm now and get plenty of rest.“
“I really appreciated the human and professional approach at the Prague proton centre. I was able to call my proton oncologist at any time – even before commencing chemotherapy I called her, and she told me: 'Don’t worry, it will be ok - Do this first and then we will continue in Prague.' Unless you've had the same experience, you can't know how important this type of contact with your treating physician can mean to a patient.“