Meet Our Survivors: Vaughn McCullum
Facing the unexpected
During a visit to the grocery store, James noticed that his son, Vaughn, was stumbling as he walked. He figured his seven-year-old was just being silly. Then he and Vaughn’s mom remembered that he had been complaining of headaches over the past week, which was out of the ordinary. They rushed him to their pediatrician and then the emergency room. A CT scan revealed Vaughn had a medulloblastoma.
Over the next couple of days Vaughn underwent two surgeries. The first helped him relieve pressure in his brain, while the second, six-hour surgery removed the tumor. Afterward, doctors recommended proton therapy as the best choice for treating the medulloblastoma.
Finding out about proton therapy
Vaughn’s parents immediately began researching. They learned that proton therapy could directly target the tumor while limiting radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue, thus minimizing issues with brain development. Since Vaughn was still growing and developing, proton therapy was the optimal choice. Vaughn was referred to the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center, where he completed 30 treatments.
One of Vaughn’s favorite memories of the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center was the people. “The staff was so caring and loving it made it hard to leave,” said his mom. “He would hop on there to get his treatment. Everyone, especially Leo, made a huge difference.”
Today, Vaughn is back to his active lifestyle. He’s playing his favorite sports —soccer and flag football — and he’s once again enjoying his favorite Pokemon video games.
“Nothing can seem worse than to have a child’s brain radiated. But proton therapy targeted Vaughn’s cancer. Not him.”
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