PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The Mayo Clinic is leading the way when it comes to a new type of radiation therapy.
It's called proton beam. Dr. Thomas B. Daniels explains how it works.
"Essentially it's the same as x-ray radiation used for diagnostic imaging, it's just a higher energy," says Daniels.
This was one of the only options they had left for four-year-old Cole, who's already gone through several rounds of chemotherapy and traditional radiation, Daniels explains.
"Cole has a tumor that has recurred along the brain stem so it's a very sensitive area and in this area we don't have the option of doing additional surgery," he said.
Cole's mom, Michelle, knew something wasn't quite right when he was twelve-months-old.
"When he started to walk in a walker he would drag his right foot. His pediatrician was like, 'well let's just get him in for an MRI' and a month later our world came crashing down," said Michelle.
Cole had surgery to remove most of the tumor, but that relief didn't last, the tumor grew back.
Next, Cole endured more than a year's worth of powerful chemotherapy.
It was about that time, after a decade of work, the proton beam facility was finally ready to go. And so was Cole.
"The great thing about proton therapy is you're able to treat the area you want to treat but you're able to spare the normal organs around the target," explained Dr. Daniels. So far it's been a perfect match.
"Cole has done excellent, he sailed right through it. He didn't really have anything in terms of side effects. He didn't have any hair loss, he didn't have any fatigue, and he's done very well," said Daniels.