A NURSE has miraculously returned to work just months after undergoing groundbreaking treatment in America for a rare form of cancer.

Barbara Green was back at work in the outpatients’ department at Burnley General Teaching Hospital, three months after being sent by The Christie Hospital for proton beam therapy (PBT) in the USA to treat her third cancer in 10 years.

The 56-year-old has returned from Jacksonville, Florida, where she was treated daily with PBT for nine weeks for a rare cancer of the spine, which had left her in severe pain and on long-term sick.

Currently not available in the UK, PBT is a specialist form of radiotherapy that targets cancers very precisely, increasing success rates and reducing side-effects.

It targets tumours with less damage to surrounding healthy tissue and is used for certain cancers in children, who are at risk of lasting damage to organs that are still growing.


Mrs Green, of Victoria Road, Padiham, said she has nothing but praise for the treatment she had in the United States which was paid for by the NHS and saw her uproot to Florida with her husband Kevin.

Although, she is not clear of cancer and will still have to attend scans, she said it has left her feeling a lot better.

She said: “Everyone was so kind and everything was sorted so well with every ‘i’ dotted and ‘t’ crossed.

"I started to feel better halfway through my treatment. I don’t know whether it was the sunshine, or the fact that I knew something was being done to treat me.

"Without the PBT I would not be back at work.”

To date, PBT has supported around 1,000 patients and from August 2018, The Christie will being treating patients in Manchester as the UK's first NHS high-energy centre.

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) will follow in summer 2020.

And Mrs Green has battled cancer for the best part of a decade, after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and then again in 2012 where she had a double mastectomy.

But after Mrs Green was told by doctors she had cancer again of the spine, she said she had been left in 'total despair'.

"Myself and my GP put it down to Sciatica so I was shocked when an oncologist at Burnley General told me that scans revealed a mass on my spine that might be a rare chordoma," she said.

“To be told I had cancer for the third time was absolutely the worst thing.

“The first two occasions had been bad but I had managed to remain positive, but the third time I was in total despair. I just wanted to crawl in a corner and disappear.”

As a nurse, she knew surgery carried the risk of leaving her doubly incontinent and in a wheelchair.

Then specialists at Royal Preston Hospital referred her to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham, where she was first told about PBT in the USA.

Mrs Green was then referred to The Christie, where her consultant Dr Catherine Coyle, informed her that she fulfilled the criteria for PBT treatment at Jacksonville, and that it would be paid for by the NHS.

Mrs Green knew this offered her the best chance of living a normal life, so they seized the opportunity.

Although her husband was granted leave from the engineering company where he worked to accompany her to America, he worried throughout the trip about taking so much time off, and they both worried about their cat, who had to be put in a cattery for three months.

She said: “I can’t praise the care we had in the USA enough.

“But going to the USA is just such a long way for such a long time. Having to travel there just added to the stress.

"If I’d been able to have the PBT in Manchester it would have been so much easier.

"I’m so glad that people will soon be able to have what I had without having to travel abroad.”

Dr Coyle said: “Barbara’s case was a rare and complex one requiring the cooperation of clinicians from more than one hospital trust.

"Not everyone with a sarcoma can be helped by PBT, but we are delighted that Barbara was suitable to receive it, given how close it was to her bladder, bowel and delicate nerve systems.

"PBT treatment has given her a very good chance of tumour control without the side effects from surgery.

“The Christie PBT facility will mean that patients like Barbara who are in pain and feeling very anxious and stressed, won’t have to undergo long plane flights to receive treatment thousands of miles from home, but can receive care closer to home with the added support of family and friends close by.”