Barry NelsonLung Cancer |  Diagnosed 2012

Lord I trust you, my faith is in you and in you alone.

Barry's Story

In March 2012, I was diagnosed with advanced cancer, stage 3B non-small cell lung cancer. Cancer is not an unfamiliar presence in my life. My dear mother, her mother and her sisters were all affected with cancer, all types of cancer (breast, liver, pancreatic, ovarian, bladder and kidney cancer). It was a painful journey as I watched, prayed and hoped for their healing and recovery. So when I was diagnosed, it brought to mind all the suffering and helplessness that I had observed and endured with my loved ones.

I begin to talk with God and I asked for an opportunity to use my situation, to benefit others and to help eliminate all the surgeries, painful treatments my loved ones had experienced. "Lord let me make a difference for others challenged with cancer" I know you can do it and I believe you for every promise you've made me. Lord I'm not expecting that you will keep me here on earth but use me to help those coming after me". So God heard my prayer and he allowed me the opportunity to participate in a immunotherapy clinical trial that brought me healing and a full life again.

Initially I was told that my life expectancy was less than six months. God sent many angels to assist me along this journey, from the beginning when I had the first doctors visit. I was extremely blessed to have a primary care physician to champion my case. He contacted every single specialists that I needed to visit and scheduled the appointments for the following week and at the end of the week, I had a complete diagnosis. Most people don't have that kind of favor, but God has favor over me. I began radiation treatment two weeks after diagnosis, again most people don't have that experience. After radiation, I began chemotherapy and for the next two years I had attempted four different chemo treatments without gaining the desired results. I also participated in a clinical trial for Tarceva (Erlotinib), which caused me many side affects. I continued on with other chemo treatments and then I was approached to consider a clinical trial for immunotherapy.

Wow, what a wonderful change occurred in my life, immediately after the first infusion, I knew something fantastic was happening. After the third treatment, my scans indicated that the tumors had shrunk 25%! I was in the clinical trial for two years, no new growth, everything was stable and I was actively enjoying my life again. It is now seven years going on eight that I was diagnosed and three years that I have been off medication and treatment. I have semi-annual scans and all praise to God I am healed and living a productive life.

Question and Answers

How and when did you first learn you had cancer?

Early in March 2012, I was experiencing neck pain. I visited the doctor and was told that a possible infection was there and to give it a week to see if it cleared up. After a week it did clear up but returned on the eigthth day. I revisited the doctor and within a week, I received the diagnosis.

How did you learn about immunotherapy and why did you decide to do it?

I was being treated for cancer at a research inistitute and unfortunately I had many different types of chemo treatment that weren't getting the desired results. My research team advised me of a possible clinical trial for immunotherapy and it was my pleasure to participate.

What was treatment like? Did you have any side effects?

I had minimal side effects. Sunburn after not using sunblock and wearing long sleeve shirts.

How did immunotherapy compare to other treatments you may have received, if any?

Immunotheraphy changed my life! I was able to regain mobility, strength, appetite, relationships, and living with fullness.

Are there things that surprise you about the cancer experience?

Too many people are affected and too many people when diagnosed stop living, they stop focusing on life.

What would you want another patient to know about immunotherapy or about participating in a clinical trial?

Don't be afraid to try something that can give you wholeness again.

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*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.

Patient education information supported by a charitable donation from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.
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