A family from Manchester has made a donation to The Christie charity to help further research after their 15 year old son, Avi Borson, who was successfully treated at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust’s proton beam therapy unit for a tumour on his spine. 

Avi’s family requested the money goes to the proton general fund which funds proton beam therapy research in a dedicated research room situated directly above the clinical area in the proton beam therapy unit at The Christie in Manchester. This fund is vital in helping maintain the research room and supports ongoing and future research.

From Whitefield in Greater Manchester, Avi is football mad and a big Manchester City supporter. The sporty teenager, the eldest of three boys, enjoyed an active life, spending summers at Camp America in the States and playing football. 

In February 2020, just as the news started to report COVID-19 was spreading to Europe, Avi started to experience spasms in his back. He remembers having to go to a Manchester City v Manchester United match wearing a neck brace which he was given following an appointment with an osteopath. 

He still continued to go to football training but gradually things got worse. One day he fell over playing football at his friend’s house. He started to walk with a stoop, then found it difficult to walk and finally couldn’t run. At his last Spanish lesson before the school closed in May, his back really hurt. And it was really painful when going over bumps in the car.

His parents, Georgie and Marc, started to get very concerned and contacted their GP. As the local surgery wasn’t a seeing patients face-to-face due to coronavirus restrictions, they took Avi to see a physiotherapist who suggested he should see an orthopaedic paediatric surgeon.

On 20 June 2020, the family were told Avi had a tumour on his lower spine, which was operated on immediately at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Pathology results showed it was a low grade benign tumour. Avi had a lumbar puncture to check if any cells had gone to the brain. Fortunately the test came back negative.

It was then suggested that Avi might be a candidate for proton beam therapy at The Christie to ensure the remaining cells were removed from around his spine. This could help prevent a recurrence later in life.

On 12 August 2020 Avi started a 5-and-a-half week course of proton beam therapy. Appointments were scheduled for after school so Avi could attend classes and then go for his treatment afterwards, where he was also able to do his homework at the unit.

Georgie Borson, Avi’s mother explained: “Avi has now had 3 scans which show that the treatment has worked so far. He needs to be continually monitored but all it seems to be going in the right direction. Apart from making him quite tired, the treatment didn’t have any side-effects so he didn’t have to miss any schooling. He’s back to being fit and healthy and enjoying all the activities he used to do with his brothers and friends. The only permanent reminder is a set of 4 tattoos on his lower back which marked out the area that needed treatment.
“We can’t thank The Christie enough. The treatment was first class and the whole team was incredible. We are so fortunate to have this facility on our doorstep. Without it we would have been forced to go abroad which would have been very stressful and hugely disruptive for the whole family. We wanted to give something back so more research can be done to help other kids like Avi in the future.”