• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Arizona superhero harnesses the power of proton beams

April 15, 2018

Battling a brain tumor was made a little easier for Airick Amaya and his family when they found out he could receive proton beam therapy close to home, surrounded by his loved ones each day.

Airick Amaya pretended to be Batman as he spun around, kicking the air. For his superhero effort, he was handsomely rewarded with sweet treats. It was Halloween, and 4-year-old Airick had one goal: to fill his trick-or-treat bucket to the top.

Still buzzing from the candy the next day, Airick was jumping on the couch singing when he fell and hit his head. "I thought he had just eaten too much candy," says his mother, Vanessa Bonillas. But when he began throwing up, Vanessa thought otherwise.

Airick's parents took him to the Phoenix Children's Hospital emergency department. "I kept thinking he must really have hit his head hard for him to be this ill," says Vanessa.

Airick was admitted to the hospital for hemorrhaging in his brain. But an MRI revealed something else. The images showed a golf ball-size tumor on the left side of Airick's brain. Surgery was scheduled immediately. Suddenly the head bump felt like a blessing.

"Airick hitting his head when he fell off the couch was a miracle from God," Vanessa says. "If he hadn't hit his head, we would've never known he even had this tumor until it was too late." Read the rest of Airick's story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.