Sophia, like many 12-year-old girls, loves to dance. It's such a great way to celebrate a milestone, especially one like this!  Sophia was surprised, flash-mob style, by the staff at the Willis Knighton Proton Therapy Center after completing her treatment with advanced proton therapy.

Many years ago, Sophia was diagnosed with scoliosis and eventually treated with a brace worn 23 hours a day. Her back pained worsened and two years ago, an MRI ordered by her pediatrician revealed she had a large tumor growing on her spinal cord. She was referred to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis where a major surgery was performed to remove the tumor.

A year later, tests revealed that tumors had returned to her spinal cord. Her physicians at St. Jude decided that radiation was the best option, and that proton therapy was the optimal way to deliver that treatment.

They evaluated options and decided on proton therapy at Willis-Knighton in Shreveport so that she could remain close to home and family. Her physician, Dr. Ben Wilkinson, indicated that using proton therapy would lead to decreased radiation to the esophagus, lungs, and chest.

Her family was told that this was a better option than traditional X-ray radiation for children, such as Sophia, who have a long life ahead of them. Sophia is the first pediatric patient at the WK Proton Therapy Center, which began treating patients in the fall of 2014 with ProteusONE™ , the world's first compact pencil-beam scanning proton therapy system.

I personally have had the pleasure of teaching Sophia at Shreveport Dance Academy in the past. She has definitely had a long journey for such a young individual, but has come out on top with the support of her family and friends.