This month I had the opportunity to travel to China to participate in two lectures and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to help bring pediatric patients from China to Jacksonville for proton therapy (more on the MOU below). In addition, I was invited to a dinner hosted by a Chinese family whose teenage son we treated last year. Their son, YS, has had a very difficult road. He was initially diagnosed at three years old with leukemia. He was successfully treated with chemotherapy but subsequently relapsed. He was treated again with chemotherapy and all seemed to be going well until he was diagnosed with a base of skull Ewing sarcoma. At this point he was 17 years old and required radiation treatment. YS and his mother traveled to Jacksonville to receive his proton treatment. YS was clearly not happy with having to go through treatment. He was understandably depressed and withdrawn, but managed to come out of his shell towards the end of his treatment course.
At last week’s dinner I had the opportunity to spend time with YS and his extraordinary family. Although their English was very limited, they were able to convey their thanks and appreciation for the treatment YS received at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. YS was outgoing, engaged and looking forward to applying for college. He had zero indications that he was treated with protons. This was clearly a family who had gone through great angst and trauma. They now had the opportunity to relax and once again function as a family unit by thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. It was truly inspirational to observe the impact that we had on a family that lives 8,000 miles away. Despite our language, cultural and political differences we were able to help mend and heal this family. It was a privilege and honor to observe our impact first hand.
Stuart L. Klein