Vicky Phelan: I have made a decision about my treatment going forward

After spending a number of weeks researching and consulting with experts, the campaigner has shared her plans
Vicky Phelan: I have made a decision about my treatment going forward

Vicky Phelan has shared her plans for next steps in her treatment plan. Picture: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

On Wednesday campaigner Vicky Phelan shared her plans for the next steps of her treatment. 

Phelan explained that she had spent some time weighing up the options that had been presented to her.

"In my last update, I said that I was looking into other options, so for the last two weeks I've been doing a lot of research, I've had a couple of consultations, there's been a lot of over and back with hospitals trying to get access to records and imaging scans and things like that so you know it's been a lot of the boring stuff really."

Vicky Phelan with Fiona McKiernan and her husband, Nick in Maryland.
Vicky Phelan with Fiona McKiernan and her husband, Nick in Maryland.

A targeted approach 

She had narrowed her options down to two options in America. The first was a clinical trial under the same doctor she has been treated under for the past seven months, which she said in previous updates that her gut was telling her not to do.  The second is proton beam therapy. 

"It's a form of radiation with very, very targeted radiation with a machine called a proton beam. 

We do not have access to proton beam therapy in Ireland. Patients in Ireland have to go to the UK or elsewhere in Europe to avail of this treatment. And so, while I am still here in the United States, I wanted to see if I would be eligible to have proton beam therapy."

Quality of life

Vicky said that the proton beam therapy has a possibility of shrinking her tumour mass at the back of her abdomen and circling her aorta, which is causing her a great deal of pain. 

"My pain has definitely increased over the last number of months. What happens is the pain builds up and builds up and goes up until, you know, it's unbelievably really bad, and I have to sit down to relieve it. 

It's a bit of a nuisance now my quality of life is definitely not as good as what it was because, for example, I couldn't go to a concert, stand, or even queue - I find I can't keep up with things anymore."

She wants to target this tumour mass in particular not only to reduce her pain level but because of the location of the mass. "It's very close to a lot of my vital organs like my kidneys and my liver. I'm really trying to stop it from invading organs to give me more time, basically."

Last week, she gathered all of her medical scans, records and files for the team at Georgetown University Hospital running the proton beam treatment. 

"So, the great news is that they are going to be able to give me some proton beam therapy and they're going to target that particular tumour mass because it's the biggest one I have. But there's no guarantees. It's very risky."

Vicky Phelan with her family after arriving back to Dublin Airport after spending six months in the US undergoing treatment. Picture Vicky Phelan Instagram
Vicky Phelan with her family after arriving back to Dublin Airport after spending six months in the US undergoing treatment. Picture Vicky Phelan Instagram

Buying time

Her hope is that she will get at least 20% shrinkage in the tumour mass and buy herself at least six months treatment-free. 

"That's the best birthday or Christmas present I could possibly get. If I could go home at the end of this round of treatment, which only takes about five weeks I'd be home around November. I'd be home for Christmas."

The next steps are CT planning scans, followed by five weeks of therapy, Monday to Friday and if it all goes to plan, she will be home in November. 

"Please God, if I got 20% shrinkage, I'd be a happy girl going home in November." 

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