Sophie Vohra, who is a student in York, started her treatment at The Christie in April 2015, after being diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer at the bottom of her spine.
She said: “At the age of 23, one of the last things you expect to hear is that you have cancer. I had been suffering increasingly from bad pains and numbness down my right leg since the start of the year, which became so unbearable that I finally decided to visit my GP.
“Following various tests and investigations, I received my diagnosis and was referred to The Christie."
After 14 cycles of chemotherapy, Sophie’s consultant put her forward for proton beam therapy in America, as her tumour was inoperable.
“Because of the location of my tumour, having surgery to remove it was high risk. I was very lucky to be put forward for proton beam therapy treatment in America. It felt like it was my best chance of survival.”
Sophie travelled to a specialist proton beam therapy centre in Jacksonville, Florida accompanied by her parents. She had two months of intensive treatment there combining PBT with chemotherapy five days a week.
Away from home
“I can’t fault my treatment in America and the staff offered us all a lot of support but being so far away from home was isolating. Our support network of friends and wider family were no longer around the corner and that was the hardest thing I think, for us all.
“Having all of this available to me has meant I have received all the best opportunities to try and beat this horrible disease. I couldn’t be more grateful to The Christie for helping make it possible. I am now disease free and able to get on with my life and complete my PHD.
Help shape future
“No one should ever have to go through a life-threatening illness like cancer, but places like The Christie and the facilities they have for young patients means that we can not only get through our treatment, but can also continue to have as fulfilling and happy a time as we can.”
Sophie has joined a panel of former Christie patients, who have received proton beam therapy overseas in the USA. The group will share their experiences and ideas to help shape plans for the treatment and care offered at the new centre in Manchester.