The UK’s youngest patient to ever be treated using a pioneering NHS cancer therapy right here in Manchester is celebrating a milestone anniversary this week.
Teddy Slade – who lives in Stockport, and has recently celebrated his fourth birthday – was just 18 months old when he was diagnosed with a rare and “terrifying” brain tumour that left his family “devastated”, but after he underwent surgery to remove the tumour, he was given a pioneering form of treatment named proton beam therapy at the then newly-opened centre at The Christie in Manchester for six and half weeks.
Proton beam therapy is a specialist form of radiotherapy that targets cancers very precisely by increasing success rates and reducing side effects, according to NHS England, which makes it an ideal treatment for certain cancers in children who are at risk of lasting damage to organs that are still growing.
The therapy has been funded on the NHS since 2008, but patients previously had to go abroad to get their treatment, and it was only when The Christie’s £125 million centre opened in late 2018, that patients could be treated in the UK.
Teddy was officially the youngest patient in the country to be treated at the UK’s first NHS high energy centre at The Christie.
And now, it’s a very different story.
Now, three years after the groundbreaking therapy was made available on the NHS in England, Teddy only requires regular check-ups to monitor his progress, and is described as being “a funny, little, cheerful character” who is enjoying pre-school, and living a full and normal life.
Reflecting back on her son’s shocking diagnosis and how far he’s come, Teddy’s mum, Amy Slade, said: “It was a huge shock when Teddy was diagnosed as he was so young and to be told he had a brain tumour was absolutely heartbreaking.
“But the staff at The Christie are amazing [and] the proton beam centre is a place of hope.
“The care that Teddy, and the support our whole family received there, was first-class, and we are so very lucky to have this life-saving medical technology in Manchester”.
Gillian Whitfield – Teddy’s consultant at The Christie – added: “It is great to see Teddy doing so well and we were thrilled to be able to help him here at The Christie.
“Being able to give patients like Teddy this vital proton beam therapy in the UK is fantastic, as it not only reduces the side effects of treatment, but also means families don’t have to travel abroad as many did before the NHS opened the centre here in Manchester”.
“Since Teddy first received proton beam therapy treatment at The Christie, over 700 patients in the UK, including 300 children, have benefitted from this pioneering treatment in the NHS,” revealed Dame Cally Palmer, NHS England’s National Cancer Director.
“This is a major milestone for the NHS,” she added.
“It marks the completion of our plans to deliver proton beam therapy in the UK and transform cancer treatment across the country”.
Today is #WorldCancerDay.
The NHS Long Term Plan aims to save thousands more lives each year by dramatically improving diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and by 2028, the NHS hopes that 55,000 more people each year will survive for five years or more following their cancer diagnosis.
Featured Image – The Christie NHS Foundation Trust