What is Proton Therapy
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Explaining Proton Therapy to Your Child

To alleviate your child's fears before treatment, it may help to have a tour of the center to see the radiation technologists and equipment. You can also view the kid-friendly presentation about the whole process at the bottom of this page. For best viewing, after you start the presentation, click the full-screen button top right, and to return to the page, hit escape.

When your child asks questions about cancer or treatment, be honest. Use age-appropriate terms and encourage your child to share his or her feelings. And remember that you're not alone: Doctors, nurses, child-life therapists, and other members of the treatment team are here to reassure you and your child before, during, and after proton therapy.

With all kids, bring the conversation to their level, but also ask questions. Ask them what they understand, what they want to know and don't over-think your answers. Often your first instinct to answer is what they want and then let them ask follow-up questions. They often understand a lot more than we think and if you are not open with them, their imagination can come up with far worse things than reality.

Parents should also keep in mind that children might not ask questions that are on their mind. Children, like adults, find it difficult to ask questions when worried about the possible answer. We advise parents to facilitate questions by providing a welcoming and encouraging atmosphere for their child. And as with all stressful situations, your child might ask the same question many times simply because he or she may feel the need for repeated opportunities to discuss emotional concerns.

Child Life

At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy your family will have access to a Child Life Specialist

Dealing with your child’s cancer diagnosis is a very challenging time for your entire family, but you’re not alone. The skilled and caring expertise of a child life specialist - a pediatric health care professional who works with children and families in hospitals and other settings - can help you and your child understand what is happening. We have a child life specialist on staff, and our partner Seattle Children’s also offers counseling. A child life specialist can:

  • Explain a diagnosis or treatment in words your child or teen can understand
  • Create a coping plan your child can use during the treatments
  • Offer support during and after treatments
  • Use play to help your child understand medical procedures and express feelings
  • Work with medical staff to assess your child's unique needs
  • Give you information about child development and the effects of health care
  • Teach techniques to help your child cope and relax
  • Offer support to help families cope with death or loss in partnership with the Journey Program

We've worked with our child life specialist to create this coloring book, which can help your child understand what to expect when receiving care at our Center. 



Depending on your child’s age, he or she may have to undergo anesthesia in order to conduct treatments. This is advised for anyone who would not be able to hold still during treatments. Anesthesiologists from Seattle Children’s use medicines to block pain and make your child less aware during treatment. The doctors have special training in giving anesthesia to children.

Treatments with proton therapy are extremely precise. For this reason, the patient must be positioned in exactly the same place each time. To help with this, the team creates immobilization devices such as bean bags and masks. However, young children have a hard time lying still even with the devices. Anesthesia helps children remain still during treatment.

How can I reach you?

For emergencies, you will be given 24-hour access to an on-call Care Team doctor through a phone number. For other matters, you will be given a phone number for your nurse and doctor during regular business hours. To reach the Center, call 1-855-528-7248.