Vanessa Fox was 9 months pregnant when she learned that one of her two children, a little girl named Victoria, had a malignant tumor in her head.
Three-year-old Victoria, who loved to sing and dance, had just lost the sight in one eye and couldn’t stop throwing up. Victoria was admitted to a hospital in Cook County, Texas, where doctors explained to Vanessa and husband Brian that the full regimen for cancer treatment ideally included surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Due to the delicate location of Victoria’s tumor, in her head near her eye, they couldn’t operate. Now that chemotherapy was starting, it was time to talk about radiation treatments.
Brian and Vanessa waited in the radiologists’ office to hear the verdict. Based on the radiologists’ review of Victoria’s brain scans, they believed traditional radiation treatments would kill the tumor. However, Victoria would never be the same. Radiation would damage Victoria’s still-developing brain, head and face.
As Victoria started chemotherapy, Vanessa delivered her third child. Vanessa told her doctors she and the new baby could only stay one night – they had to get home to help care for Victoria.
Brian stayed up nights researching proton therapy as an alternative to radiation treatments for Victoria. He had to believe there was a way to save her life and her future at the same time.
Based on Brian’s research and conversations with doctors at MD Anderson’s Proton Therapy Center, the family chose MD Anderson and proton therapy.
Today, Victoria is cancer-free. She didn’t suffer facial disfigurement or brain damage. Sight returned to her once blind eye and she’s still dancing.
Six years ago today, MD Anderson, the nation’s leading hospital for cancer research and treatment, commissioned a new Proton Therapy Center. When the doors of the Center opened on May 4, 2006, new hope arrived for pediatric and adult patients. We at MMI have the honor to support the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center by helping tell the stories of patients who walked in the doors with cancer, and walked out with new life.
The six years of MD Anderson’s Proton Therapy Center in Houston, Texas, are six years of stories featuring families like Victoria, Vanessa and Brian. Stories of hope for healing.
Living in Oklahoma now, following her dad’s job transfer, four-year-old Victoria is in a ballet class. She plays with her big sister, helps with her younger brother, and is looking forward to starting kindergarten in the fall.
Happy Birthday, MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center. Thank you for helping people like Victoria celebrate more birthdays, too.