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“Technology” Thursday! 5/16/2013

We had an in-depth behind the scenes tour of the Proton Center today after Travis’ treatment appointment.  This place is so full of technology; it really is an amazing engineering marvel (sorry, needed some help with this part).  At the heart of the Proton Center, there is piece of equipment called the Cyclotron where the Proton beams are formed.  Each Cyclotron is about the size of an SUV but weighs more 200 tons (about the same as a 747 jetliner).  The Cyclotron uses powerful magnets to remove Protons from Hydrogen atoms in water and accelerate them to higher and higher speeds in a circular path (like cars on a racetrack).  Once the Protons are traveling at their maximum speed (almost traveling at the speed of light), they are then directed by other magnets into a Beam Line which is about 100 yards long (length of a football field).  Then the beam is fed to the Gantry where the patients are treated by use of additional magnets.  The Gantry is a rotating steel structure that moves around the patient to aim the beam at any angle.  Each Gantry weighs about 90 tons, is 3 stories tall, and the patients are treated on the second story.  The MD Anderson Proton Center has 3 Gantries for treating patients so you can imagine the scope of the building facility.  Inside the patient treatment room with the Gantry, there is a nozzle where the Proton beam exits the beam line and the energy is then precisely tuned and shaped to actually match the exact shape of the treatment area by using brass shaping plates and beam refracting plates.  This allows the maximum dose to be delivered to the location and depth where it is needed most.  They have their own Machine Shop for creating these plates and the treatment plans are created by a team of Physicists working with the Radiogist-Oncologists.  Amazing!  They should do one of the Discovery shows about this place like Extreme Engineering or Mega Builders.  It is too bad Tony and Tyler weren’t here to see it also since they love that kind of stuff.

About a week ago, Travis wanted to write letters to our pediatrician, neurosurgeon, and neuro-oncologist to let them all know how he was doing with his treatment.  When we came back home today, we had a letter from our pediatrician, Dr. Neglia, and he told Travis how much he and the whole staff missed him and he included some goodies from the toy bin.  He really is a great doctor and we are looking forward to seeing him when we get back!

Then we had a great care package from the two 4th Grade classes at Clarksville Academy (where Aunt Karen and Uncle Clint work and Bryan goes to school) with cards from the kids, a Sonic gift card purchased with money they raised from doing their chores, some seeds to plant, and a CA cup.  Thanks you all so much for everything and Go Cougars!  We also had a wonderful care package from the Fine family.  After dropping off goodies at our house for Tony, Tyler and Grandma, they sent a ton more to us here in Houston.  Janelle knitted Travis a special chemo hat and they included cookies for us to share with both the hotel staff and the Proton Center staff.  Wow!  We loved everything and thanks for sending the “secret” recipe.  ;o)  Finally, we received tickets in the mail from the Houston Dynamo (MLS) soccer team for this Saturday.  The boys have been talking so much about soccer and this may be our last game we can go to so they are very excited.  We will give an update about the game this weekend.

Travis has been so motivated to stay caught up with his school work that we worked on everything during the afternoon.  He is such a hard worker and a smart little guy!

The week is going by so fast we almost forgot Tony is coming tomorrow!


Lynne and Tony


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