Ben's legacy helps young cancer sufferers

8:32am Friday 16th May 2014

A ROMSEY charity is providing cash for children needing revolutionary cancer treatment in the USA.

Ben’s Heroes, set up by Kate Ross and Simon Loyns after their nine-year-old son, Ben, died of cancer in December, 2010, is offering grants to help cover additional cost when travelling to the USA for the new and hi-tech proton beam therapy treatment, which won’t be available in Britain until 2018.

The grants, which are between £800 and £1,000, will help cover the cost of additional medical treatment, living expenses, travel and accommodation.

Ben’s mum Kate said: “We created this grant as we wanted to support families travelling to access proton therapy by easing the financial burden and allowing them to focus on their child during an already intensely stressful and emotional time.”

Kate added: “Although the treatment itself is covered by the NHS and the costs associated with being out of the country for up to eight to 10 weeks, or choosing to travel with their child’s siblings to keep the family group together can mount up. We have seen an increase in these grants and will continue to support these families until the two UK units open in 2018.” Treatment centres are to be built at University College Hospital, in London and the Christie Hospital, Manchester.

Proton beams are less harmful than X-ray radiotherapy to target tumours and the treatment results in less damage to tissue surrounding the cancerous growth than traditional radiotherapy.

Experts say the proton treatment is particularly effective in children because their brains and bodies are still developing whereas the use of radiotherapy increases the risk of secondary tumours developing.

Fiona Young from Ben’s Heroes Trust said: “Our aim is to help families meet the additional cost relating to the proton beam therapy so they’re able to spend more time supporting their child through the treatment.”

Cancer Research UK says that NHS patients first started going to America for treatment in 2008 and it cost about £90,000 per person and it’s too early to say whether children who have undergone proton beam therapy suffer fewer long-term side effects than those who have had conventional radiotherapy.

A member of one family, who did not want to be named, who received a grant from Ben’s Heroes, said: “It has been an incredibly long road and I really don’t know what we would have done without the support of individuals, such as Simon and Kate and all those that have given so generously to charity in order to help others.

“These efforts make such a dramatic difference to people’s lives at a time of crisis. None of us expect to find ourselves in such a position to anticipate the agony of it.” Ben’s Heroes has helped many children with cancer since it was set up in 2011 in memory of the Halterworth Primary School pupil who lived at Shootash.

This includes donating an iPad library (10 mini tablet computers) to London’s University Hospital for child cancer patients to use while undergoing treatment.

Ben used an iPad himself to keep in touch with family and friends when he was being treated in hospital.

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