In just a matter of weeks Orlando Health will open the first proton therapy center in Central Florida, providing patients with a valuable new tool in the fight against cancer.
In just a matter of weeks Orlando Health will open the first proton therapy center in Central Florida, providing patients with a valuable new tool in the fight against cancer. Now, that center has a name, and one with special meaning - The Marjorie and Leonard Williams Center for Proton Therapy. Marjorie Williams, a patient at UF Health Cancer Center - Orlando Health, passed away in September of 2015 following a courageous battle with cancer. In her memory, her husband, Leonard, and the Williams Family Foundation is providing a leadership gift in her name to Orlando Health to support proton therapy treatment.
The Marjorie and Leonard Williams Center for Proton Therapy, set to open in April, joins an elite group of proton therapy centers around the world. It will mark the third proton therapy center to open in the state of Florida and the 21st in the nation. Currently, there are only 58 proton therapy centers worldwide.
Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy that uses proton beams to shrink tumors in adult and pediatric cancers, especially tumors that are located near vital organs and in young patients whose bodies are still growing. Proton therapy limits the dosage of radiation to adjacent organs, thereby limiting side effects in all patients, and reducing the impact on growth in pediatric patients. The Marjorie and Leonard Williams Center for Proton Therapy will treat cancers of the brain, spine, prostate, lung, breast, head and neck as well as pediatric cancers. Proton therapy, because it can so precisely target tumors, has proven effective at treating such cancers and patients report fewer side effects.
“We are very grateful to Leonard and the Williams Family Foundation,” said Mark Roh, MD, President, UF Health Cancer Center - Orlando Health. “This facility would not be possible without significant philanthropic support. Because of their leadership gift, along with the support of other generous donors, Marjorie’s legacy will help other cancer patients fight their battle with state of the art technology.”
Marjorie and Leonard met in North Carolina, when Marjorie was Leonard’s nurse for an annual physical. Marjorie declined to date her patient, but Leonard’s perseverance eventually paid off. They married in 1955 and had four boys in Winston-Salem before moving the family to Orlando in 1966. The Williams have made many gifts to organizations throughout North Carolina and Central Florida, including health related causes and the Boy Scouts of America.
“We are honored to be a supporter of UF Health Cancer Center - Orlando Health and the first proton therapy center in Central Florida,” said Leonard Williams. “We miss Marjorie every day. She and I were married for 60 years and raised our sons here in Orlando. I know that she would be so proud of the gift, knowing it will help save lives.”
The Marjorie and Leonard Williams Center for Proton Therapy is located along Orange Avenue between Orlando Regional Medical Center and UF Health Cancer Center - Orlando Health. The 15,000 square foot facility consists of three floors – two above ground and one underground – in order to accommodate the MEVION S250 superconducting synchrocyclotron proton accelerator. Set to open next month, it is expected that it will treat as many as 26 patients a day with the new proton accelerator.