What protons make possible - Patients’ stories

Do you have cancer and need assurance that your proton therapy will be beneficial for you? At the Centre for Proton Therapy at PSI, hundreds of tumour patients are successfully treated every year. Here we highlight five of their stories. The gentle irradiation with protons makes it possible to destroy cancerous tissue even in particularly critical areas of the body – to the delight of the patients and their families.

Onwards and upwards
Ute from Malix near Chur used to be a couch potato. In December 2014, she was diagnosed with a sarcoma on her thigh. Because of the tumour’s proximity to an important nerve, the tumour tissue could not be completely removed. So in April 2015 she underwent six weeks of therapy at the Centre for Proton Therapy  – and started walking. Today she runs in the mountains and does a half-marathon every now and then.
(Photo: Désirée Good)
Happiness in the kitchen garden
Konrad from St. Urban was treated for 42 days at the Centre for Proton Therapy after undergoing an operation on a tumour of the parotid gland. He had shied away from an even bigger operation that was proposed as an alternative. In parallel, he switched his eating habits to a diet rich in vegetables. So today he gets all the more pleasure out of bringing in a rich harvest from his garden.
(Photo: Désirée Good)
At ease on the catwalk
Zoe from Unterägeri got her diagnosis in 2009, shortly before her ninth birthday: a rare type of tumour in the head area. Then, from October to November, she received irradiation at the Centre for Proton Therapy. Today she is happy about her recovery and can go back to doing photo shoots as a model in her free time. This year she wants to complete her technical school leaving exam and then decide what to study.
(Photo: Désirée Good)
On the road again
Paul Joseph from Horgen is a fighter, and always forward-looking. That’s a good thing, because as a long-distance and bus driver he always needs to have a view of what lies ahead. Although he retired in 2017, he still brings passengers safely to their destination six or seven days per month, driving a bus from the AHW company at Lake Zurich. He’s able to do that because his head tumour was treated successfully at PSI.
(Photo: Désirée Good)
Bending the ball
Lisa from Adlikon has a passion for playing football. She was not going to let herself be sidelined, even by the diagnosis of a soft tissue tumour in the neck area. Her seven-week treatment at the Centre for Proton Therapy in 2013 was a direct hit – so her teammates can once again count on the schoolgirl’s wicked kick.
(Photo: Désirée Good)

How can you explain what proton therapy is to your family, your friends and acquaintances, or colleagues at work?

Ultimately proton therapy is just another form of radiation. You cannot see or feel it. A beam of proton particles enters the body and deposits all its radiation energy into the cancer cells. The DNA in the cancer cells gets destroyed, but the surrounding normal cells are spared. This is important to avoid side-effects, whether it is an adult or a child who needs radiation therapy.