SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Groundbreaking technology at Rady Children's Hospital is helping save lives. The hospital is using a new proton therapy which proved to be successful in a local gymnast's battle against a brain tumor.
News 8's Alicia Summers gives us a look at how the therapy works and how it impacted the girl's life in this Growing Up San Diego report.
San Diego gymnast Juliana Abraham was on her way to the Olympics when her dreams came to a tumbling halt.
"I was right there at that point,” she said.
She was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor at the age of only 12.
"That was a big blow to me,” Juliana said.
Neuro-oncologist Dr. John Crawford said her tumor was probably one in a billion and that he doesn’t think anyone else on the planet has the same tumor as Juliana.
Surgery to remove Juliana’s tumor left her entire left side paralyzed.
"I was told I was not getting out of the hospital for six to eight months,” she said.
A year later, her tumor came back.
This time, her neuro-oncologist treated her with Rady Children’s Hospital’s groundbreaking proton therapy which pinpoints radiation directly to the tumor and doesn't damage surrounding organs.
After 7 and a half weeks of proton therapy, the tumor is gone, and Juliana is thriving once again.
Her mother has this advice for parents:
"When her body was hurting, she was honest and I listened,” said Nicole Abraham. “Don’t hide your pain... tell someone you trust.”
Unfortunately, it's not safe for Juliana to do gymnastics anymore.
"If my body gets too fatigued my leg will give out,” she said.
But she is still very active and says the experience she had at Rady's inspired her to have a new dream: to become a nurse, help other children and give back to the hospital that saved her life.