Zach Rizzuto

By proton-admin | April 6, 2018

“Despite the fact that proton therapy seems unattainable because of my insurer, my oncologist told us he wouldn’t recommend traditional radiation therapy because proton therapy truly is my best shot at a long, healthy life.”


Shortly after my daughter Roxanne was born, I suffered from several bouts of feeling confused and disoriented. What I thought were anxiety attacks turned out to be the worst news possible: Anaplastic astrocytoma, a type of aggressive brain cancer.

Because the tumor was growing quickly and caused me to have absence seizures, I needed immediate treatment. After meeting with multiple physicians, it was clear that I would need multiple surgeries followed by proton therapy treatment.

Multiple doctors told me that proton therapy was my best option because it can reduce the neurocognitive side effects and ensure that the healthy tissue in my brain is not damaged by the radiation.

To my surprise and horror, United Healthcare denied my coverage. We moved quickly to appeal the decision – three times – and they rejected each one.

My wife and I returned to my doctor, hoping that he could recommend a different treatment approach that could work. Despite the fact that proton therapy seems unattainable because of my insurer, my oncologist told us he wouldn’t recommend traditional radiation therapy because proton therapy truly is my best shot at a long, healthy life.

My wife and I take great pride in being fiscally responsible individuals, but the price we would have to pay out of pocket for treatment is too much for us to handle. Out of desperation, we have launched a Go Fund Me page with the hope of raising the funds needed.

As I look at my 10-month old daughter, I can’t imagine accepting any treatment that could jeopardize my ability to be there for her as she grows up. Fighting brain cancer has been hard enough – I should not be fighting my insurer as well.