At the very least, Caitlynne Truett, 6, deserves to smile. Considering what she has been through –- what she continues to go through –- she deserves much more.
That is what this week’s ceremony was meant to provide –- smiles and more.
On Wednesday morning, Truett completed her 30th specialized cancer treatment at the Texas Center for Proton Therapy in Irving.
Around Halloween, Caitlynne’s family noticed she was not herself: she was dizzy, disoriented and needed help just to walk in her Fort Worth elementary school’s storybook character parade.
Days later, Caitlynne suffered a seizure which prompted a trip to the hospital where doctors discovered a tumor, larger than the size of a tennis ball, in her brain. They would soon diagnose it as a medulloblastoma, which is a rare form of brain cancer.
“It is devastating to see an image of your child with that present,” said Caitlynne’s father, Chris Truett. “You hear about it on the news but you never think it's going to happen to you.”
After a medical team at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth removed the tumor, Caitlynne started her treatments at the proton center under the care of Dr. Victor Mangona, a radiation oncologist.
“Our hope is to not only cure the cancer and prevent it from ever coming back, but also minimize the side effects they endure during treatment, and for the rest of their lives,” Dr. Mangona said, while explaining why the proton therapy treatment is preferable to standard radiation.
The proton radiation is far more focused and targeted, according to Mangona, which means it does not deliver radiation to her other vital organs.
The Texas Center for Proton Therapy is one of only about 25 facilities in the United States to offer this type of treatment.
Caitlynne Truett may have finished this step in her overall treatment, but her fight is far from finished. The next step in the process will be chemotherapy, which will be administered back at Cook Children’s.
“She’s definitely a fighter,” Chris Truett said. “Her smile keeps us going, and we are on to the next phase. So prayers is all we ask for.”