Ben's Story

Ben's journey at Phoenix Children's

The Pixar movie “Cars” is a favorite of Ben Purcell’s. Putting fear and uncertainty aside, Ben focused on this small diversion to overcome the anxious energy as he prepared to pass through a large CT scanner.

Ben and parents Mark and Barb Purcell are no strangers to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The first time little Ben went through the CT (computed tomography) scanner, used for generating 3D images of a patient’s body, he needed a lot of distractions and positive coaching from mom and dad – who had their own fears. Their son, at age two, was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer called pleuropulmonary blastoma.

“We did anything we could think of to get him through the initial scan because it is a scary process,” said dad Mark. “I have even stood there with a wand, blowing bubbles in the air and pretending I was a fish.”

Imaging technology that is second to none


Now at four years old, Ben still needs periodic scans to determine how his chemotherapy is working. And Ben would be the first to use the new Brilliance iCT scanner from Philips Healthcare which was recently installed at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the first in the southwest. This state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging technology within the Radiology department at Phoenix Children's Hospital is able to process 256 “slices,” or sections of high-resolution images, in 1/27th of a second.  The result: Less time on the table for Ben and, even more importantly, less radiation per scan.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital has been involved for quite some time in what’s called the Image Gently campaign,” says pediatric radiologist Craig Barnes, MD, referring to the national initiative to minimize required radiation doses while preserving diagnostic quality.“ We focus on doing radiation according to the A.L.A.R.A. concept which stands for ‘as low as reasonably achievable’.”

With the Brilliance iCT, radiologists like Dr. Barnes are actually be able to get a highly-defined shot of a patient’s heart before, during and after a heartbeat – all in a single scan.

The new equipment enhances Phoenix Children’s ability to uniquely serve the different health needs of children, adds Barnes. “If you look at hospitals that serve the adult community, they don’t tend to take the care to make sure the radiation dose is as low as reasonably achievable,” he says.

Still, Ben and his family realize the value of CT scans in that they can provide doctors with the best quality images in the shortest time -- showing what’s inside a body without actually operating. This helps furnish information to diagnose illnesses and determine the best treatment options.

Going beyond the technology

Today, Ben is active little four-year old who still enjoys watching “Cars” and loves playing with friends from the neighborhood and any toy with wheels on it. He also loves to be with his family - grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He also continues his treatment and makes progress in fighting lung cancer. What impressed the Purcells the most is the amount of cooperation and support they've received from other parents, their community and the many Phoenix Children’s team members who had a hand in Ben's care.

“It’s not just the technology,” says Mark Purcell. “From our perspective, it’s the people first who are running the machines. We feel there’s more than a handful of people at Phoenix Children’s who have saved Ben’s life. And that’s what’s most important to us.”

Share this page: