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Roberts man undergoes new treatment

Above, Caleb Peterson (right) stands with his father, Gary, brother, Emanuel, and mother, Julie. Not all of the Peterson family is pictured. Caleb is currently in Boston undergoing Proton Radiation Therapy.

The News has been following Caleb Peterson's, 21, Roberts, second battle with cancer over the last six months.

After three types of chemo therapy were ineffective in treating Caleb Peterson's brain tumor, risky brain surgery was the only option. In a more than six-hour surgery on March 8 doctors at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minn. removed the tumor and all cancer cells visible through a surgical microscope. Almost three months later Peterson is Boston bound for a unique radiation therapy well-suited for his rare form of cancer.

Although Peterson's tumor was removed, his mother, Julie, said additional treatment is necessary to ensure the cancer is completely gone. She said Caleb will undergo Proton Radiation Therapy, "to eliminate any cancer cells that would be left behind after the surgery. Without the radiation combined with the surgery and the chemotherapy there's a 90 percent chance the cancer will come back. I don't know that you can ever eliminate the risk for it to come back, but the goal of the therapy is to get the best outcome to eliminate the majority of the risk of it coming back."

When the Petersons asked Caleb's oncologist at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, where was the best place to receive Proton Beam Radiation therapy, she told them Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston.

According to the Massachusetts General Hospital website, proton beam therapy is the "most precise form of radiation treatment available today," by destroying the primary tumor site while leaving surrounding healthy tissue and organs intact or unharmed.

Caleb has undergone a lot of regular radiation in the last two years, often times causing him uncomfortable side effects including nausea and fatigue. The proton therapy allegedly avoids the usual side effects of standard x-ray radiation as it has been found that there are minimum to no side effects with the proton beams, according to the hospital.

According to the hospital website, proton therapy is a highly effective treatment for localized tumors, which is why Caleb was a good candidate for this unique and expensive therapy.

Julie said Massachusetts General Hospital accepts only one in seven physician referrals for this type of treatment; so Caleb was lucky to get accepted.

For more information about the Proton Beam Therapy Caleb is receiving, visit the Massachusetts General Hospital website: tontherapy.aspx.


Last week Caleb and Julie flew to Boston where Caleb met his doctors, was fit for therapy devices, went through simulation of the therapy and had an MRI.

Julie said doctors made slits in Caleb's head where they inserted "skull screws."

"They're tumor markers so they line up the machine exactly every single time. The combination of the device and the tumor markers will enable them to do exactly the right radiation exactly the same way every single time," she explained.

Caleb left on Wednesday, May 25, with his father, Gary, to start his six weeks of treatment.

He is scheduled to undergo around 25 proton therapy treatments in the coming weeks.

Last week Julie and Caleb flew to Boston through the American Cancer Society's Mercy Medical Flights. On May 25, Caleb and Gary flew to Boston through an organization called Angel Flights.

"Hospitality Homes has helped us find a family to stay with while we are in Boston. We are looking forward to eating lots of seafood and seeing sites of historical significance while we are there," Julie said.

According to the Massachusetts General Hospital website the proton therapy is non-invasive and painless, enabling patients to maintain their quality-of-life during the treatment process as an outpatient.

Caleb is planning on taking full advantage of his time in Boston.

When he's not undergoing therapy, Caleb, a history education major, hopes to travel to different sites around Boston; an area rich in U.S. history.

Caleb said he's especially interested in seeing the Old North Church and the U.S. Constitution, while Julie really wants to see the Liberty Bell.

The rest of the Peterson's hope to do some sight seeing while in Boston too, as the entire family plans on spending some time in Boston while Caleb undergoes therapy.

"It might be fun to be out in Boston for Memorial Day weekend or Fourth of July, both very patriotic holidays. Those would some interesting times to be in or near the nation's Capitol and those historical cities," Julie said.

Caleb will be in Boston from May 25 to at least June 30. For updates on Caleb's treatment in Boston, visit his CaringBridge site at

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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