Warrenville proton center opens

  • Don and Heidi Lomasney speak Tuesday during the grand opening of a new proton therapy center in Warrenville. Their 16-year-old daughter will be one of the first patients to be treated at the facility.

    Don and Heidi Lomasney speak Tuesday during the grand opening of a new proton therapy center in Warrenville. Their 16-year-old daughter will be one of the first patients to be treated at the facility. Bev Horne

 
 
Updated 10/19/2010 7:39 PM

More than two years ago, Don and Heidi Lomasney were told something no parent should hear.

Their teenage daughter was diagnosed with a nonmalignant spinal tumor. While the tumor wouldn't spread to other parts of their daughter's body, it was slowly growing and eventually could cause paralysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The news only got worse for the DuPage County family when surgery failed to remove most of the tumor. Doctors told them additional surgical attempts would be too risky.

"Our faith was really tested, Heidi Lomasney recalled. "It was just a really scary time.

Hope was renewed in September 2008 when Central DuPage Hospital received state approval to construct the first proton therapy center in Illinois. Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses proton beams to treat a variety of cancers.

Now that the $140 million facility has opened in Warrenville, Heidi Lomasney says her 16-year-old daughter is scheduled to be one of the first patients.

"Even earlier this year, I never would have thought she'd be having treatments now, she said before a Tuesday grand opening ceremony attended by patients, physicians and representatives from CDH, Radiation Oncology Consultants and ProCure Treatment Centers Inc. "The timing of this is just incredible. We are so fortunate.

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The CDH Proton Center, a ProCure Center, is the ninth proton therapy center in the nation. It is the second facility developed and operated by ProCure.

"CDH is dedicated to investing in the future of cancer treatment and providing the best possible treatment options for our patients, Jim Spear, executive vice president and chief financial officer of CDH, said in a statement.

The 60,000-square-foot building went up in record time along Weaver Parkway, just south of I-88. Once fully operational, it will be capable of treating roughly 1,500 patients a year.

Like traditional radiation therapy, proton therapy kills cancer by preventing the cells from growing and dividing. But because the proton beam can be specifically targeted at the tumor, higher, more effective doses can be delivered while causing less damage to healthy tissue.

The types of tumors that can be treated with proton therapy include head and neck, brain, central nervous system, prostate, lung, gastrointestinal and a variety of pediatric cancers, officials said.

"We know that it is a better treatment not for everything, but for many things, said Dr. William Hartsell, the proton center's medical director.