Each week throughout Cancer Immunotherapy Month this June, we will introduce you to a patient who will tell their cancer story on video, from learning diagnosis to enrolling in clinical trials and receiving immunotherapy as treatment. We hope by sharing their stories that you or a loved one will become more informed about cancer immunotherapy and the patient experience.
Sharon's Melanoma Story
In 2004, at only 22 years old, Sharon Belvin was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. Running out of options, her oncologist, Dr. Jedd Wolchok of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, informed her of a new type of cancer treatment called checkpoint blockade immunotherapy that was in early stages of testing. Without any hesitation, she enrolled in a clinical trial of ipilimumab (Yervoy), a CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitor. After only four rounds of treatment, she was declared cancer-free one year later. Now, sixteen years later, she works as a health educator and wellness coach to help people with a variety of diseases return to full strength.
Sonia's Lymphoma Story
In January 2018, Sonia was diagnosed with an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Over the course of a year, she relapsed twice and received her last treatment in March 2019, when she was admitted for CAR T cell therapy. The following year, she launched her nonprofit, Kits to Heart, which delivers care packages to cancer patients, an idea inspired by a care package she received before her final treatment in a gesture that touched her heart and moved her to help other patients get through cancer.
Barry's Lung Cancer Story
In March 2012, Barry was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer and given a life expectancy of six months. Having exhausted treatment options, he enrolled in an immunotherapy clinical trial for a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor. One of the first lung cancer patients to receive immunotherapy, the outcome was uncertain. Fortunately, his tumors shrank and he was once again able to lead a happy, productive life. Now several years off treatment, he advocates for immunotherapy and clinical trials.
Matilde's Lung Cancer Story
After losing her older sister to cancer, Matilde carried fear of a diagnosis until the fateful day she received one. Having heard of Jimmy Carter's treatment with immunotherapy, she requested to enroll in an clinical trial for a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor. She had a complete response and now advocates for others to participate in clinical trials to move biomedical science and new treatments forward for families everywhere.
Immunotherapy patient stories are part of the Cancer Research Institute's Answer to Cancer Patient Education Program. We're proud to premiere these videos during our annual Cancer Immunotherapy Month.
Discover more immunotherapy patient stories in our ImmunoCommunity