All Eleanor wanted on her last day of proton radiation therapy was to wear a panda outfit and she wanted her proton therapist, Kenneth Manalo, to join her.
“She’s so brave. She had to be under anesthesia every day for her treatment and when she would wake up she would just smile. She’s a ray of sunshine every day. Everyone was always excited to see her. I wanted to make her happy, so I dressed up as a panda on her “Graduation Day.” Kenneth Manalo explains with kindness seeping through each word.
Conventional radiation therapy uses x-ray beams comprised mostly of photons, there is an entrance and exit dose when delivering the radiation. With protons, the energy is delivered directly to the site within the tumor, minimizing damage to surrounding organs and tissues.
“Going through radiation/chemotherapy is tough…I want to make sure they’re comfortable, not anxious or scared.”
Kenneth knows how tough radiation/chemotherapy can be, his dad died of liver cancer in 1993 and after his father’s death, he wanted to pursue a career in the medical field.
It wasn’t until college where he realized he wanted to become a Proton Therapist for cancer patients. Kenneth wants to be there for his patients during their most vulnerable time to help them heal.
His deep compassion comes from his gratitude to God and his faith.
“I’ve been blessed to have opportunities like this. To have an education, to have a career like this, I’m so thankful and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for God.”
“There isn’t a day that I”m not thankful. I believe this shows naturally with patients because I’ve been shown such compassion that I give it back. Even better is when patients come to visit when they have a follow-up and they come back with great news, either that their tumors are shrinking or that their scans are clean. It’s incredible the wonderful people you meet and the relationships you build.”
“So when Eleanor’s mom asked me to wear a panda costume, I happily obliged, Eleanor is the happiest baby…we knew how bad she felt [because of treatment] but she smiles every single day”.
You don’t have to be in the medical field to make a difference in a cancer patient’s life. Visit cancer.org to find how you can help.