It was December 2009 when Coleson’s mother, Julie, first noticed something was wrong. After having a second set of tubes put in his ears for residual fluid after back-to-back ear infections, Julie noticed that he grabbed at them a lot—something he didn’t do the first time.
After multiple trips to Coleson’s doctors, an urgent care center and their local children’s hospital, a CT scan finally revealed that Coleson had an ependymoma, an intracranial tumor that arises from the tissue of the central nervous system.
Once the tumor was removed, the Youngs met with a radiation oncologist in Fort Worth and learned that radiation was the best course of therapy for Coleson’s type of tumor. After consulting with Coleson’s medical team and doing their own research, the Youngs sought care for Coleson at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center in Houston.
“Children with cancer can benefit from proton therapy because it is so targeted,” said Dr. Mary McAleer, assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at MD Anderson and one of the team of pediatric specialists who treats many of the young patients at the Proton Therapy Center. “We have the ability to precisely deliver the proton radiation directly to the tumor, which allows us to destroy the cancer but spare normal tissues around it. This is especially important in young patients, like Coleson, whose still have a lot of growing and developing to do.”
It just took one meeting with the Proton Therapy Center team for the Youngs feel confident about their choice to travel to Houston for treatment.
“We were on cloud nine after meeting with the radiation oncologists at
MD Anderson and knew, without a doubt, that proton therapy was what was best for Coleson,” Julie said.
From February 17 to April 5 of 2010, Coleson underwent daily proton radiation treatments.
“Coleson would get excited about going to his appointments. He’d clap his hands when we pulled into the parking lot because he loved all the toys MD Anderson has in the waiting area. If he didn’t get to play, he wasn’t happy,” laughs Julie.
Once back home, Coleson began occupational, physical, developmental and speech therapy – all common after brain surgery. He did well and was released from all therapies around the age of 3.
Nowadays, Coleson is an active elementary school student who loves baseball, singing and remote control cars.
“Coleson’s journey with cancer made us realize how much there is to be thankful for and made us so much more appreciative of life,” says Julie.” People take things for granted, and we don’t know what could happen tomorrow. After this experience, making time for my kids means so much more.”