Proton-Man

In 2016, I was contacted about writing a comic for kids with cancer. Naturally, I was interested, and even more so when I heard about the cancer treatment in question. It was Proton Therapy, which seems pretty marvelous to me. Basically, regular cancer treatment often involves radiation, which blankets the affected area with the hope of annoying the good cells while killing the bad cells - but certainly irradiating everything.

Proton therapy uses a stream of protons (which are smaller than an atom), thus not involving the good cells at all. The entire effect of the proton stream takes place in the cancer. The doctor uses 3-D imaging to determine exactly where the cancer is, then sends the beam to that spot, with the precise amount of energy to have it come to a halt in that spot - so the energy "detonates" inside the cancer and nowhere else. (By the way, I'm not a doctor, and don't play one on TV, so consult one if this is of interest to you.)

Anyway, my idea was to give kids beginning treatment (and their parents) an idea of what the treatment involved. I took a trip down to a facility with the fine folks from Varian, the company that makes the cyclotrons that create the proton stream, and saw for myself what the process entailed - then reimagined it as a superhero story - which was illustrated by Mike Jaszewski. The finished product is indeed available to kids undergoing Varian's treatment, and anyone else who wants a copy. Just email Tanja.Sattler@varian.com.


Proton-Man story © 2017 Steve Englehart.
Art © 2017 Mike Jaszewski.

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