IRVING -- Led by a police escort, "220 Tons of Hope" rolled into North Texas Wednesday afternoon.
It's precious cargo carried on two 19-axle flatbed trucks with nearly 100 tires each.
"This is a 220-ton magnet that produces the proton beam," said Gary Barlow, director of the Texas Center for Proton Therapy, "and it was handled like a baby, because you could not change any of the internal configurations whatsoever for accuracy and precision's sake."
The cyclotron is the cancer-fighting machine at the heart of the Texas Center for Proton Therapy.
Proton therapy uses a high-energy, highly-targeted proton beam to deliver high doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells. Proton therapy is most often used to treat tumors in sensitive areas, where surgery might not be an option. Proton Therapy is a beneficial option for treating pediatric cancer, because it can minimize damage to their smaller and still-developing bodies.
Proton therapy is still a relatively new form of radiation therapy. There are very few such treatment centers in the world. The nearest locations right now are in Oklahoma City and Houston.
The Texas Center for Proton Therapy is the first in North Texas. It is set to open in early 2016.
The giant cyclotron magnet took a 5,200-mile journey from Belgium, where it was made, to the Port of Houston. It was picked up for transport to Irving Monday morning.
"And then it had to travel all the way from Houston to Irving, using back roads permitted by TxDOT," said Meredith Adams, spokesperson for Texas Oncology.
It took hours to get the machine in the driveway of the center, which is located in the 1500 block of West Royal Lane in Irving.
Workers who stopped to watch the cyclotron be delivered in wonder know it will save thousands of lives in the future.