The Procure Centre in Oklahoma
The Procure Centre was new, spacious and very welcoming. The facilities there were fantastic including a wide variety of complimentary drinks and snacks. We were shown around and made to feel totally at ease. Max was shown his room, given a special dressing gown, allowed to bring in his choice of music while under treatment and supplied with all necessary information.
The Procure Centre is run like a business, highly professional, never a waiting problem, appointments also on time. The staff, doctors and other medical staff at Procure were very professional and beyond excellent. The same goes for the children's hospital in Oklahoma, which had very useful valet parking. Community nurses were provided for dressing changes, line care and other medical issues.
Proton Beam Therapy in the USA
Max had to go for Proton Beam Therapy sessions five days a week, Monday to Friday, for 33 sessions, with his normal chemo protocol slotted in at the weekends.
The treatment was painless at first, although after half way through skin changes occurred due to the proton beam, like severe sunburn, creams were supplied and doctors were always on hand to offer advice. The machine is different for each patient, depending on type and site of cancer. The cogs are built to your own specifications.
Staying in Touch & Feeling Connected
He missed his friends in the UK very much, which was hard on him, but we managed to keep in touch via email, text and Facetime.
During our time in Oklahoma we met the most amazing families, staff and fellow american Procure patients. Everyone we met was so friendly. I can honestly say that we have never found so many wonderful people in one place. Complete strangers in the supermarket, shopping malls etc. would talk to us and invite us out to meet their families and children.
Every week at the Procure Centre there is a graduation lunch and ‘dine a round’ social events in local restaurants, for patients to get to know each other. Procure also arrange other events such as bowling, baseball etc. During our stay Max enjoyed lots of local attractions (using discounted tickets provided by Procure). We also ventured to Texas one weekend and met some fantastic firefighters!
Accommodation in the USA
When Max was well he had fun, when he didn't feel too good, he had the privacy of his room at the great accommodation that we found. We stayed at the Staybridge Suites, a 2 bed room with 2 bathrooms, lounge and fully functional kitchen, breakfast was available buffet style every day, which was great for meeting fellow travellers. David Walkup, the manager of the Staybridge Suites was fantastic. He was a great source of local information and more than helpful.
My advice to other parents would be to remember to take kid’s food and snacks for the journey as none were available - a common complaint from all the other families of children undergoing cancer treatment that we met in the USA. Parents also need to remember to pack tea bags and Oxo cubes!
I went alone to the USA with Max, my 17 year old son James stayed with his father and my 8 year old daughter Olivia went to Marbella in Spain to stay with her grandmother, who paid for her to attend a private school for the whole time. I chose not to take Olivia because she and Max tend to fight, plus when Max would be having inpatient chemo in the American hospital, there would be no one to look after her. I also had to consider the challenge of managing Max’s sometimes difficult behaviour, as the result of ‘chemo rage’.
Home After Treatment
Coming home was a great feeling. Max was sad to say goodbye to those he met, took Facebook details etc., but was excited to see his ‘mates’ in the UK and our cats. His dad came out for the last 2 weeks of treatment which also perked him up.
Max continued his chemo back at home. He keeps in touch with his new friends and has fantastic memories of a difficult time in his life. He was given clear scans in October 2014 and has started one day per week at college. He is slowly getting back to ‘normal’, we only hope that the cancer has gone for good, sadly there is no guarantee.