ST. LOUIS - A breakthrough treatment is changing the way doctors help some cancer patients.
On Thursday, 33-year-old Steven Osborne was the first person to receive the therapy at a hospital in the St. Louis region. Osborne is a father of four from Leasburg, Mo.
"I'm a simple person, I've got simple virtues, and I just want to keep going for my children," said Osborne.
About a year ago, Steven's face and eye started going numb.
"I always worked hard for my family and it got to the point it was hard for me to work," he said.
A cancerous tumor was causing the problem. Doctors went in for surgery but couldn't remove it all. Normally, the next step would be radiation, but a team of physicians at the Siteman Cancer Center had something else in mind. It's called proton therapy, and it precisely targets the cancer without exposing a patient to unnecessary radiation. Steven's treatment went smoothly Thursday without any problems.
"We're thrilled, we've been working on this for six years. And to have this day come is great," said Dr. Jeffrey Bradley, director of the S. Lee Kling Proton Therapy Center.
"They told me I was done and I was just kind of blown away, I was still waiting for the treatment to begin," said Osborne.
Now, doctors are lining up more patients. And they're especially optimistic about using this treatment on children. Because unlike other types of radiation, protons won't hurt a child's growth or mental development.
"Likely we'll be bringing in pediatric cases from all over the country," said Dr. Eric Klein, chief of proton therapy physics.
And, it's fitting Steven Osborne has helped opened the door. Because children are what keep him fighting for his own life.
"That's why I'm sitting here today is to conquer this with honor and dignity for my children," he said.
Doctors say around 30 percent of cancer patients who require radiation will be good candidates for proton therapy. Siteman Cancer Center is the 11th facility in the country to offer the treatment.