SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — The Mountain West is getting its hands on a new major cancer treatment technology that will, in the years to come, help thousands of patients in Utah.
It was certainly good news for Taylor Lambert, who has a rare type of brain tumor called Juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, or JPA.
She had it once and had it removed, but then it started growing back when she turned 23.
As an artist, Lambert is always drawing inspiration from something, or someone.
With her own experience, she’ll likely draw up unique paintings to tell the story of her journey with Huntsman Cancer Institute.
“One in a thousand people usually get this kind of tumor, but two out of four kids in my family did,” said Lambert.
Being a young newlywed, Lambert worried about her future chances of one day having children. With this in mind, doctors recommended proton therapy treatment. It’s new and was recently made available at Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Construction on the Senator Orrin G. Hatch Center for Proton Therapy wrapped up right on time for her treatment course.
Its been just an absolute miracle, an absolute blessing to have this proton treatment center get up and running literally right in the nick of time for me," Lambert said.
Dr. Matthew Poppe, a radiation oncologist for Huntsman, said having this form of cancer treatment in Salt Lake City is a big deal.
“It’s huge, its huge for our patients," he said. "Our patients, for the last 10 years, have been driving about 12 hours to the next nearest proton center, which is either in Seattle or down in San Diego."
The treatment takes anywhere from four to six weeks of daily treatment, Poppe explained, so having this form of treatment available gives families more options and relief in trying to figure out logistics.
Poppe explained patients undergoing proton therapy usually experience fewer negative side effects, and healthy tissue near the tumor shows less negative impacts from that form of radiation.
Lambert said she’s the second person to undergo this treatment at Huntsman, and the process wasn’t bad at all.
“They clip you down with this awesome mesh mask that presses against your face. And you just lay as still as possible and they blast your head with a loud ray a couple of times and you listen to music and it’s a good time," she said.
Lambert wanted to encourage anyone facing a serious diagnosis to stay positive.
"You’re going to be OK," she said. "Especially if you come to Huntsman, because they’re amazing!”