A lot has changed since Ana-Kate Partridge was the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center’s first pediatric patient 10 years ago. In the past decade, MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center has treated more than 1,000 children, and Ana-Kate has grown into a lively preteen who is cancer-free.
Seeking medulloblastoma treatment at MD Anderson
At 6 months old, Ana-Kate was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a common brain tumor in children. After it was removed surgically in Austin, Texas, where the family lives, they visited MD Anderson to plan the next course of action. Our doctors prescribed chemotherapy, which Ana-Kate received in Austin.
But just after Ana-Kate’s second birthday, another tumor appeared, and a second surgery was done in Austin. They returned to MD Anderson, where the Proton Therapy Center had just opened. After undergoing radiation therapy, Ana-Kate was given proton therapy at the sites of both tumors.
“My husband, Ron, researched proton therapy, and we just felt like its potential advantages and low risk of side effects were worth a shot,” says Shawn Partridge, Ana-Kate’s mother. “It was a good decision that we are so glad we made.”
After eight weeks of proton therapy, Ana-Kate returned home for chemotherapy.
A creative, energetic spirit
Since being declared cancer-free 10 years ago, Shawn has never looked back. At age 12, she’s a bundle of energy with a long list of interests, her mother says.
“She is a fish and just loves to swim,” Shawn says. “In the summer, she’s in our pool every day from sunup to sundown. This year, she’s signed up for horseback riding camp, which was entirely her idea.”
Ana-Kate has a highly creative bent and loves art. Her mom supplies endless canvases, which Ana-Kate fills with her original creations.
A love of math – and her sisters
In school, Ana-Kate has had a few challenges due to medulloblastoma side effects, but with a little extra help, she’s staying on the same level as her classmates.
Her favorite subject is math, and she excels at it. This may be a product of her close relationship with her math-whiz older sisters. One attends the University of Mississippi, and one is a sophomore in high school.
“Ana-Kate thinks her sisters hung the moon,” Shawn says. “And they think she’s pretty great too.”
Good memories and a promising future
Each year, Shawn brings Ana-Kate back to MD Anderson for an MRI and a visit with her physicians. And every year for the past 10, they’ve gotten good news. The cancer remains a distant memory.
“Ana-Kate and I talk from time to time about her cancer experience,” Shawn says. “She has only good memories of the Proton Therapy Center, and she asks frequently about the friendly people who cared for her.”
But Ana-Kate doesn’t spend much talking about the past. She’s too busy thinking about how fun it’s going to be when she’s on the dance team next year.