HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - Cutting edge cancer treatment is coming to Hampton next month,as Hampton University's Proton Therapy Institute -- one of only eight in the nation -- will soon begin takingpatients.
You may not have written a check, but you are partly paying forthis cancer treatment facility. Senator Mark Warner andRepresentative Bobby Scott helped bring 20 million taxpayer dollarsto support it.
The inside of the treatment facility looks more like somethingyou might see in Star Wars. And the technology is intimidating,even to a senator.
"I thought it was a bold vision. I didn't know if it would cometo pass, but here we are," said Sen. Mark Warner.
It's a complicated machine, but what it does is somethingHampton University President William Harvey said we can allunderstand.
"No one is immune from cancer and that's why I get goose bumpswhen I come here," she said.
It's a type of radiation, but unlike the conventional kind thatdamages everything in its path, protons go straight to a tumor sothere are fewer side effects.
"I'm just waiting and hoping that I'm one of the early ones toget started," said Alfred Scott, one of 30 people, mostly prostatepatients, on a waiting list for treatment.
Sixty-five percent of patients in Hampton will be treated forprostate cancer, the rest for breast, lung and pediatriccancers.
And the facility will put Hampton University on par with somebig names.
"Keep in mind the other centers are at places like Harvard MassGeneral and MD Anderson, so we're very, very very proud of howwe're doing here with the technology," said Dr. Cynthia Keppel,scientific director.
It may also prove to be a good return on taxpayerinvestments.
"It's a great economic development, we'll have a lot of hotelsin the area," said Rep. Bobby Scott.
The biggest return however, according to Harvey, is that it will"...ease human misery and...save lives."
HU's Proton Therapy Institute is already receiving inquiriesfrom as far as the Middle East and Scotland.
If all goes as planned, the first patient will be treated onAugust 23.
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