Lucas Thorpe

Even before his first birthday, four year old Lucas Thorpe from Atherton in Wigan, was diagnosed with cancer.

When Lucas was born, his mum Jodie and dad Dale were over the moon with their little bundle of joy. But when he was just 8 months old they got the news that is every parent's worst nightmare - doctors told them that Lucas had a tumour on his bladder. 

Mum, Jodie Rothwell said: "Treating Lucas's bladder area with standard radiation could easily have damaged his developing hip bones resulting in him being in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He was simply too fragile for this kind of conventional treatment. Proton beam therapy was the only alternative.” 

Splitting the family 

Unfortunately, proton beam therapy was only available abroad. This meant splitting the family apart over Christmas as Lucas and his parents travelled to Jacksonville, Florida.

Jodie added: "A long plane journey is the last thing that a desperately sick child with a low immune system needs. Lucas was so ill when we arrived that he was rushed straight into intensive care, where he was diagnosed as suffering from septicaemia, meningitis and pneumonia. 

Final blessing 

"The septicaemia caused Lucas to lose half of his right foot and the tips of his toes, as well as the tips of his fingers

"On Christmas Eve, the doctors had to give us the devastating news that Lucas wasn't going to make it, and we requested the priest give him a final blessing. I have never felt so utterly helpless as I did at that moment."

Incredibly, Lucas did make it. After many agonising days of worry and against all the odds he recovered, and was finally able to receive the proton beam therapy he desperately needed.

Wept wth relief 

Jodie said: "We wept with relief when we found out."

Without proton beam therapy, Lucas's story would have ended very differently.

The UK's first high energy proton beam therapy service is due to start treating patients in 2018. The Christie was selected to deliver this specialist treatment, along with University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Lucas' mum Jodie said: "Because the therapy is still in its early stages, Lucas suffered third degree burns on his stomach after the treatment in America. That's why I'm so pleased that proton beam therapy is coming to The Christie and I know that the scientists at The Christie can make it work even better."